Two fascinating pieces, detailing how and why the campaign turned. When history looks back on the 2011 election, I do believe the moment in the debate, discussed in these articles, will be the "spark" turning point so to speak.
When Layton delivered the attendance line, I was also yelling at my television for a powerful response, because frankly there were obvious retorts that would have negated the entire attack. In that one moment, we had a sobering recognition, that while we admired our guy, his political instincts were still wanting. The response to Layton was obvious, immediate and yet nothing came, I was immediately disappointed. No one could have foreseen that the NDP would use that exchange to the degree they did, but it is also true that line was a central strategy. Not showing up for work, it's simple, it speaks to people, it resonates in a clear way. One can see why the NDP fancied the attack, but a more skilled response and I think the accusation could have been turned around into a wonderful positive.
Our pollster confirms what many of us thought pre-debate, things were going quite well, the numbers narrowing ever so slightly, we were within range. That the debates were central isn't news, everyone agreed prior that Ignatieff needed a strong performance. I found the contention that Ignatieff didn't do much prep, most of it was done pre-writ, a bit of surprise, because he looked over prepped to me. Instead of a natural flow in the English debate, his answers were choppy, as if he was searching for the line he was supposed to "insert here". Ignatieff was much more at ease in the French debate, but the damage was done, Layton had his line and the NDP shrewdly shoved it down our throats.
I would agree with the "what really sunk Ignatieff" arguments, seems a fair read of what transpired. If one is looking for an election soundbite to encapsulate the campaign, the exchange between Layton and Ignatieff is most suited to be the "moment".