Friday, October 07, 2011

Election Wrap Up

A few thoughts from a fascinating Ontario election result. First off, there is a bit of utter revisionist nonsense floating around that the PC lead over the summer "wasn't real", even though all signs pointed to a huge Liberal deficit. YES, the sentiment was very real, it revealed a distinct desire for something new- and the polls never suggested otherwise, even throughout the campaign- the PC's were every bit poised for victory and the Liberal challenge looked immense. That backdrop makes this election result somewhat incredible, because "kick the bums out" was every bit a electoral mentality.

Heading into the campaign, the only Liberal hope as I saw it was "campaigns matter", as well as a firm contention that Hudak wouldn't resonate with Ontario voters, blunting the "change" mantra (btw, I now hate that word). There are now some numbers to counter, but in the final analysis, both those critical hopes manifested, the Liberals simply ran a better campaign and Hudak was more a drag on support than anything, he lost the debate and by all accounts found few coverts on a personal level, the DUD was just that. PC's and apologists can point to the seat totals- and I really hope they do- but to my mind, this election represents a failed opportunity, a better message, better messenger, better campaign, it was really all there for the Progressive Conservatives to capitalize.

For the NDP, there is little question the Layton aftermath put some indirect wind in their sails, as well as other obvious breakthroughs. A good result for Horwath, but again, during the campaign, a fairly flat baseline and she never caught fire, with perhaps the north being an exception. Again, we heard last night how Ontario voted "for change" from Horwath, but several factors suggest they voted with tertiary interest and I still see Premier McGuinty, so the revolution was clearly muted.

Of course a Liberal majority was what the faithful hoped for, but as I said privately to a few friends, given the circumstance, a minority would be a terrific result. If I said to you August 1st, "hey Liberal, you can have a minority, which is effectively a majority, given the Speaker votes with the status quo, would you take it?" YES SIR, YES SIR, sign me up NOW!! Let's keep it real, first past the post flaws aside. From a partisan perspective, I'm pleased, an agenda I geniunely believe in continues...

However, I would argue everyone is a loser here in one important and sobering sense: voter turnout was abysmal, under 50%, a RECORD low. The Liberal vote was way, way down, the gravity of which only lessened by the relatively sad ability of other parties to truly "get out the vote". Truth is, this election was a pedestrian affair, it excited no one, people voted out of duty rather than desire and apathy won the day. Turnout is a testament to a failed opposition message, a tired opinion of the government of the day and above all a repudiation of the process, the superficial debate that resonates with no one, the predictable campaign tactics and the barrage of polling which distracts(on that last point, I think we need a serious debate about limiting polls during campaigns, if not an outright ban). The cookie cutter campaign and the coverage, someone needs to digest that Canadians are increasingly tuning it right, it bears no relationship to their lives, the disconnect is FRIGHTENING. The political party that can solve the riddle and challenge the entire status quo process will find a very fertile audience. We desperately need some entity to blow it up, and blow it up real good, this recurring template is an electoral loser, that only gets worse with successive disappointments.

One final point, not a great night for first past the post, the raw vote totals clearly at odds with seat counts, and while it worked to my party's advantage this time, that's irrelevant, the optics are somewhat brutal.

All in all, happy to have Premier McGuinty back with a practically strong mandate, I truly believe we are in the midst of a greening revolution in this province and will only become clearer with the superior eyesight that time affords. Now, let's just hope the PC's decide to keep Hudak on ;)

9 comments:

Mark Francis said...

The horribly low turnout argues that people did not want change. Or [change].

All the parties, outside the Liberals, had change that as a concept, if not a word, in their slogan.

I considered that stupid.

In uncertain economic times, change is scary.

Instead, arguing that we're all in this together, and that we'll work together to survive it, is a far better message. As in 'Forward. Together' - the Liberal slogan.

I'm not saying people weighed slogans, but the campaign themes were detected by the electorate. We didn't want change, really.

So why a minority, then? Well, no electorate is consistent, and the ground war targetted ridings to swing.

I think the Layton bounce also interfered, and may be a better measure as to why the Liberals lost their majority, as the NDP gained at the Liberal's expense.

Marpman said...

congratulations Ontario...now if you can get rid of Ford and all of us get rid of Harper we could complete the sweep of reality

sharonapple88 said...

All in all, happy to have Premier McGuinty back with a practically strong mandate, I truly believe we are in the midst of a greening revolution in this province and will only become clearer with the superior eyesight that time affords.)

Hopefully. Depressing to consider that we might end up going backwards on this.

And DL, if you're out there, I'll admit to being wrong about Bramalea-Gore-Malton. :P

lma1 said...

Yes, thankfully McGuinty can continue his opposition to Harper's irresponsible Tar Sands energy agenda. Maybe Mulcair will soon be joining the fight?

DL said...

Thanks Sharon, I knew BGM was a good possibility for the NDP - and its a big one to get since having a presence in 905 is very key. I also predicted an NDP pick-up in Essex which most people expected to go Tory. It'll be interesting to see how things unfold with this minority gov't. Needless to say any byelections that take place over the next couple of years will suddenly have extraordinarily high stakes!

Shiner said...

I truly believe we are in the midst of a greening revolution in this province and will only become clearer with the superior eyesight that time affords.

I agree, Ontario is way ahead of the times on this. Unfortunately I don't think that the next election will be far enough in the future to realise it. Rates are going to explode in Ontario. I'm happy enough with that, energy shouldn't be cheap, but I can't see the Liberals being rewarded for it. I agree with Hampton's suggestion on TVO last night that Hudak should take solace in the fact that in less than four years he will have the opportunity to absolutely spank the Liberals, it'll be ugly.

Steve V said...

Probably the best move is for McGuinty to step aside in a couple years, if the minority holds. The Libs elected no new members last night, what they really need now is some fresh faces to blunt the inevitable growing baggage syndrome.

sharonapple88 said...

Thanks Sharon, I knew BGM was a good possibility for the NDP - and its a big one to get since having a presence in 905 is very key.

In the end, it was good to see that the Conservatives was third in the riding.

It'll be interesting to see how things unfold with this minority gov't. Needless to say any byelections that take place over the next couple of years will suddenly have extraordinarily high stakes!

I think both Horwath, Hudak, and McGuinty have signaled that they're willing to work with each... at least in the near future. Hudak staked a claim in fighting tax increases (none planned). Horwath mentioned in her speech last night that she would fight for education and health (two planks that go well with the Liberal agenda). McGuinty said he'd run from the centre. All three parties got a bit of a spanking from the electorate. Money might be a reason not to have another election too soon. Elections are expensive, and all the parites probably have loans to pay off. Anway, I can't see them being at a rush for another election.

But hey, I've been wrong in the past. ;)

CK said...

I have noticed some making excuses for the low voter turn-out from both the federal election and this one. First past the post, lack lustre campaigns, same ol' - same ol'. Perhaps a small portion of that is true, but I've said this before, and I will say it again, and again, at the end of the day, the reason for low voter turn out, is laziness. Pure and simple. They'd rather not interrupt their Facebook chat time, or time with trashy family of the month with Dr. Phil, and what not. That's all it is. Sadly today's society really isn't all that complex. The big tv tube and intertoobz have removed all imagination.

Nowadays, with so many dates they can vote from the time the writ is dropped, heck, even shut-ins can vote, there is no excuse.

All I hear is "Engage me!" "Engage me!" Well, I'm sorry, there is an expression Help yourself if you want to be helped. In this case, If you want to be engaged, engage yourselves first.