Thursday, January 27, 2011

15% Of Voters "Paying Attention"

It's a recurring theme in this corner of the blogosphere that apathy rules, Canadians simply aren't engaged, this reality crucial to understanding what's going on or could happen. We get frustrated when things don't "stick", numbers don't move, we over analyze every little detail, fret about negative this and that, when really, rarely does much resonate, at least in an impactful and sustained way.

The Liberal pollster has apparently found that only 15% of Canadians are paying attention to federal politics. The number isn't a surprise, in fact it fits, explains a lot actually. Federal Canadian politics bore people to tears, those of really engaged are a rare breed. This reality explains why message repetition is essential in politics, because only sheer mass might just might reach a sizable portion of the population. Most people catch a bit here, a headline there, a story once in a while, a very disjointed- lots of gaps- perception of what is going on. Only on a rare occasion does an issue resonate enough to really move and change perceptions.

One of those rare occasions is an election, and that's why people that are already writing Ignatieff off are sort of clueless to be honest. Canadians have an entirely superficial impression of the man, strong feelings simply don't exist. A solid campaign, a good debate performance, and this "weak leader" at present can get some traction- any student of political history knows this well. It is also true that any weakness on the trail when eyes are trained, and it could spell a quick end, the lack of engagement to date works both ways.

Ignatieff heads into this campaign a bit bruised, but not to the degree the pundit class endlessly digests, he still remains largely an open book. In the larger sense, this poll supports the underlying reason we political geeks all look forward to campaigns, because we know anything can happen and does. This current apathy translates to potential volatility, things can move quickly once people do "pay attention". Probabilities still suggest likely outcomes, no dispute there, but with people so disengaged, it's a "rookie" read to be definitive at this point...

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