Thursday, November 01, 2012

Voters Are Superficial

Every election, there is the requisite story wherein the journalist speaks to voters to ascertain what issues are important to them.  Normally this exercise confirms that we voters are sophisticated, this perception furthered by the other election novelty staple, the "focus group" segment.  While it is true that many of us do vote based on a series of issue based considerations, the SAD reality is political consideration just isn't that deep, in fact it's painfully superficial and fickle.

The latest federal polls are stunning in one sense, not so much when one considers the political landscape.  With the addition of one prominent face to the brand, the Liberals go from afterthought, a media death watch, to juggernaut, even the absurd prospect of a majority government.  Nobody knows a single real policy, nobody has crunched any numbers, nobody knows anything but lineage and hair, and yet....  

In reality, not particularly surprising the latest batch of polls.  After all, this is a country that just saw the "orange wave" roll across a province despite candidates not even in their bloody ridings, despite no real digestion of anything beyond the proverbial CHANGE mantra.  Everyone else has screwed it up, this guy with the mustache is likable, lets give him the keys.  Sad, overly simplistic, but almost entirely true.

Policy is important, but really it is just some concrete backdrop to basic appeal and resonance.  Liberals have confronted the perception wall with past leaders, no matter what we were armed with, it mattered not without a compelling figurehead.   One important caveat, if the electorate is so fed up with the current regime then a stiff can lead his party to power (you do the math).

This Trudeau wave may well be temporary, but it is still quite instructive in understanding just how easily wide swaths of voters can move, given the most basic of considerations.  The results also suggest that should Trudeau manage to stay within the lines, develop some basic slogan talking points on a host of issues, the Liberals can benefit from a largely shallow electorate.  Factor in a conduit that lacks focus and sustained depth on any issue, it all congeals into a pretty pedestrian political landscape that caters and rewards buzzwords, soundbites and photogenic appeal.

The latest "seismic" change in Canadian politic is further illustration that those of us politically engaged forever over analyze, which prevents a true understanding of the "real world" as it stands.  Fact is voters are pretty darn superficial, let us proceed with that knowledge.

2 comments:

Jerry Prager said...

I think it was the boxing match.

Sam Hejazi said...

Canadians want to feel good about Canada. CPC partisans like to claim Canada is in some golden age after the dark decade of the Liberals but really the opposite is true for most Canadians.

Trudeau represents hope for a more respected and dynamic Canada.

Harper has never been as strong as the talking heads like to portray him. 39% in a 3 party election race only seems good if you completely forget that Chretien's 38% majority was with a 5 party election.

Harper wears on people, he bores us and drags us down unless we live for eliminating the LGR and for more crime legislation. Outside of his 20-30% core Canadians don't care about those issues. His economic record is more hype than substance and many know that plus those that believe it can only feel good that other countries are worst off than us while our children still won't have it as good as the present generation.

I'd say you can't evaluate Trudeau's public standing without putting it in context along side of Harper's.

Another thing about Trudeau is that he shifts the focus away from the NDP which even under Mulcair was seem as the fresh hope. Most Canadians want a different country than the one dear to Harper and his most ardent supporters. Trudeau focuses that desire towards himself and the Liberal party.

Of course he'll have to sustain that hope for 2.5 years...