I've made reference to this realistic strategy before, apparently some in Ottawa also quietly subscribe to the view. Anything can happen in an election, I will forever believe "victory", in some form or another, is possible, but when you move to simple probabilities, one must entertain other scenarios.
The incumbent advantage is formidable, without a massive "kick the bums out" mentality evident in the land, a tall order for a party with 77 seats at present to outright take power. I believe apathy reigns, but I'm not convinced "kick the bums out" is there, a prerequisite for massive seat shifts- always has been, always will be. More likely, a coalition scenario, but when you run the numbers, that scenario requires a very strong campaign, possible but not sure about probable. There is also the Conservative majority scenario, but I'm not buying, in fact I put odds of that well below a Liberal minority when push comes to shove.
If I'm the Liberals I shoot for the brass ring, but also keep my eye on the distant horizon as part of the ultimate plan. Right now Harper has a huge money, organizational advantage, we all recognize this fact, and it isn't something to fluff off. This pre-writ blitz once again shows that money is important, it has power, a double whammy when you consider our restraints vs their ability to toss it around with no consequence. The Conservatives have objective advantages in concrete ways that are undeniable.
I think it probable that the Liberals improve their seat tally in the next election. I am quietly confident that we will perform better, and I still maintain no real "love in the land" for this vanilla government. I think Liberals can make gains, and big picture, this election can set us up for governing the next time around.
A weakened Harper mandate is incredibly important, it really is majority or bust for him. If the Conservatives return to Ottawa back in 2006 seat terrority, then the superficial united front will begin to crack, a whole range of possibilities, not to mention the added drag that time provides for any government. This is probably Duceppe's last campaign, a good chance Layton's, after this election, Ottawa will go through seismic change. Whether or not Ignatieff survives irrelevant, but a larger caucus, a sense that 2008 was bottom, people can realistically start thinking about taking government. More money in the coffers from votes cast, more incumbents ourselves, a host of reasons to see a party poised to be that alternative.
Again, I'm not saying we have no chance in this election, history tells us we CLEARLY DO, anything is possible. That said, I'd still have one eye on the longer road, which could involve an incremental strategy and possibly might explain why many remain election "hawks" despite the perceived long odds. What constitutes "winning" a subjective interpretation.