Thursday, March 31, 2011

So Far So Good

Rather than offer a million caveats, let's just assume it's part of the equation. Disclaimers aside, the campaign is now starting to take shape and I'm hard pressed to find any real positives for the Harper campaign.

People will note, starting yesterday Harper edited his phrasing, coalition was for the most part replaced by these bland references to alternative government's. No accident, in a matter of few days, the word "coalition" has become a double edged sword for Harper, no longer able to pummel opponents with impunity. The word now brings questions about Harper, moreso than his targets, this explains why the Conservatives have massaged the language, at least from the leader himself. The fact Harper has adjusted speaks to, at least, partial message failure.

There is a fast growing theme emerging, on that paints Harper as detached, unaccountable and defensive. Ignatieff, Layton are taking all comers, Harper has chosen to limit access, creating an unflattering air. Harper doesn't look comfortable answering questions, he is somewhat flat and reactionary, this comes across, this has an impact. Particularly noteworthy when contrasted with Ignatieff, who by all objective accounts is on his game, at every stop, relaxed taking questions. I always look to body language as one of my key intangibles- pretend you no nothing else about the campaign- it says a lot about how things are going at the moment.

I take a different opinion than some, I don't believe Harper's one on one debate challenge was an accident or spontaneous comment. Nothing that happened last night dissuades me from my view, in fact the Harper team did push for just this concept, a fact which shouldn't be lost on anyone. The problem for Harper, the Liberals simply bested him, we didn't bite on either/or, we demanded both, which has lead to Harper on the defensive today. Harper offered a debate, Ignatieff is now taunting that challenge, further cementing a frame of a man who isn't accountable, won't debate, won't take questions, won't even wade into crowds of ordinary Canadians, unlike his opponents. Ignatieff looks strong, offensive, Harper has lost this back and forth in a decisive way.

On the policy front, Harper has really offered nothing that has grabbed attention, apart from the mocked commitment to maybe do something in the distant future, dependent on scenarios which could change. That is the signature announcement to date? Contrast with Ignatieff, Harper comes up short again. Take away the fear, so far a pretty THIN presentation from the Conservatives.

I see the Conservatives scrambling a bit, I think they are off message and tinkering. I see the Liberals calm and cool, a leader looking beyond comfortable, out there and thriving. Again, here is where all the disclaimers come, but let's just isolate ourselves to the first few days, I certainly like the way this campaign is shaping up, go so far as to see it's been pretty much best case scenario. And YES, it can all change in heartbeat, and probably will for that matter, a few times too :)


Morakon said...

It's all looking good so far. I hope somewhere in the bag of goodies being dished out that the Liberals have something solid to attract some rural votes. Cohn from the Star has mentioned the "Risk Management Program" from the ON budget has really gotten praise from Farming orgs. I think the Fed Libs need some solid policy in this area.

Marc Bernard said...

How long until we see Harper playing the piano in a Tim Horton's?

Steve V said...

Only if the Tim Horton's is closed, or they only allow Con supporters in.

Scott in Montreal said...

You are absolutely right. Ignatieff is on his game and Harper is flat-footed. In previous Harper campaigns, his team was able to quickly get back up on its feet after early stumbles.

The fact Ignatieff is the only fresh face among the lot from the past three elections speaks to the enthusiasm of the press following, and to the fact his message is getting attention, whereas the other guys are not brimming with new ideas or "newsi-ness" so much.

The story of the comeback kid is one of the mass media's favourites. It sells every time. Ignatieff just needs to keep steady and sure and carry on with all the humble confidence in himself and his fellow Canadians that he has shown thusfar, and the rest of the story the media desperately wants to write will write itself.

Steve V said...

"The fact Ignatieff is the only fresh face"

At the beginning all the pundits said "untested" "rookie". I said, we have a field of guys who have been around forever, might be a plus to be the new guy, voters might be interested by the new dynamic.

Tof KW said...

Still a long way to go, so don't read too much into this. Nanos started daily tracking, and today's results:

Con 39.1% +0.7
Lib 32.7% +4.0
NDP 15.9% -3.7
BQ 8.7% -0.4
Green 3.7% -0.4

(Change between Mar 29/11- Mar 30/11)

Steve V said...


What's curious, Libs up that much and the gap in Ontario is huge for the Cons.

Dame said...

I went to see iggy in the vancouver rally and i was greatly impressed with him as a PERSON ... I always said i trust his heart and intellect but the PERSON was an absolute convincing WINNER ...
And the the public seems to get the same impression .
what a good feel it is..
All the liberal ads are excellent!!

Steve V said...

There seems an enthusiasm at stops, size of crowd, that I didn't see once in 08. Very good, under the radar, sign.

Mark Francis said...

Harper spent a fortune setting the bar low on Ignatieff. It's coming back to haunt him.

Steve V said...

More good news, Liberals RAKING it in:

Kirk said...

"Don't get cocky kid"

But maybe a little bit happy.

Jerry Prager said...

We are on the side of history, and Harper is not, this particular bran of conservatism, corporatism is about to discover that, around the world, there are more of us than them. Canada is the tipping point, Ignatieff is history's child, whose time is coming.
If he delivers a substantial democracy package, we will help transform the world into a post millennial place of simple decency,all the best practices exists, or can be found, and what was Iggy doing last year at the Thinker's Conference or being told by democracy watch that he needed to step up to the plate and Iggy said "I can see how it might make it harder for me to govern, but I can also see why it needs to be done." He just has to deliver a way that moves North America and the world away from Tea Bagging movements financed by billionaires.

Deno said...

Hello Steve

Is this true?

Here are the ridings the Liberals of running in:

19 of 36 ridings in BC
14 of 28 in Alberta
8 of 14 in Saskatchewan
7 of 14 in Manitoba
101 of 106 in Ontario
50 of 75 in Quebec
10 of 10 in New Brunswick
10 of 11 in Nova Scotia
3 of 4 in PEI
6 of 7 in Newfoundland
0 of 1 in the Yukon
1 of 1 in the NWT
0 of 1 in Nunavut


Steve V said...

I haven't the slightest what that means??

Dan F said...


Nominations are open until April 11. Libs have nominated about the same number as Cons so far, and both will have 308 by the deadline.
(BTW, I've seen this in a few places today. Is this what passes for a talking point now? Nominations are not completed yet?)

Steve V said...

Oh Deno, concern troll, I get it. ZZZZZ.

rockfish said...

Another extension of this should be another challenge to Harper -- if you don't want to meet for a 3rd debate with just MI, then at least take the muzzle off your 307 other candidates and give them the OK to debate their competitors at the local riding level. The CONs under Stephen Harper have been dodging and running away from open, accountable discourse, avoiding a key part of the democratic process.

Marpman said...

I like the framing of the commitments. The education program, the child-care program are being funded from money that was being given to corporations and will be taken back.
I think that also drives home the balanced-budget approach...this is not reckless spending, it is considered and thoughtful. I also like that there are numbers assigned to the program...we know the costs.
When was the last time we heard that from a Tory? I think that fiscally conservative truly means that you are conservative about the fiscal-information you divulge

Deno said...

Dan F

Thank you

Steve V

Sorry, will not post again.


Saskboy said...

Ignatieff's got a long way to go yet, he's still given up on SK, and Alberta at this point, and that's a lot of seats to concede to Harper.

Nadine Lumley said...

Harper was in Halifax on Thursday and I kept hearing Harper say something about debating or not debating Ig or Ig's coalition partners. It was truly sad and pathetic. It's fun watching the press go to town on Harper. Pass the popcorn.

Nadine Lumley said...

Political Polls out themselves as worthless

OTTAWA - Canada's notoriously competitive pollsters have some surprisingly uniform advice about the parade of confusing and conflicting numbers they're about to toss at voters ahead of a possible spring election:

Take political horse race polls with a small boulder of salt.

"Pay attention if you want to but, frankly, they don't really mean anything," sums up Andre Turcotte, a pollster and communications professsor at Carleton University.

He has even more pointed advice for news organizations that breathlessly report minor fluctuations in polling numbers: "You should really consider what is the basis for your addiction and maybe enter a ten-step program."

And for fellow pollsters who provide the almost daily fix for media junkies: "I think pollsters should reflect on what this does to our industry. It cheapens it."

Turcotte's blunt assessment is widely shared by fellow pollsters, including those who help feed the media addiction to political horse race numbers.

Point 8:25 in the video:
Peter Mansbridge on CBC discusses story of the year: worthless polls

We invited Allan Gregg from Harris Decima (and the At Issue Panel on The National) and Paul Adams, assistant professor at the Carleton school of journalism. Adams covered Parliament Hill for the CBC and The Globe and Mail. He also worked for EKOS Research. Here's that conversation:

Marpman said...

In a quote from CBC it would seem every second word is 'coalition'. It does not sound like Harper will let it go:

"Our first preference was a direct debate with the leader of the coalition, Mr. Ignatieff insisted that his first preference was to have his coalition partners there at the debate," Harper said in Halifax.

Marpman said...

Neglected the referenced article:

Tof KW said...

Oh, a nice article in the SUN criticizing Harper ...wait the SUN?

PM's message way off target

Jerry Prager said...

Iggy comment advice from me
"If Mr Harper can manage a minority government for 5 years by showing nothing but contempt and bullying, I think I can manage a minority government with cooperation and respect for the decisions of Canadian voters, which my opponent has never shown."