Friday, April 01, 2011

Week One in the Books: Something for Everybody

The election is one week old and it has been an interesting week.  If you are sitting at home assessing how things went it can probably be concluded that every one of the campaigns can take away some positives from the week.

The Liberals can take the most positives.  Michael Ignatieff is proving, so far, to be a good campaigner.  He has been focused and that is rubbing off on the campaign.  The ads they have released are good.  He is doing a good job of comparing the Liberal and Conservative positions and priorites.  The chattering classes are beginning to see that the caricature that the Conservative Party created of him does not match reality.  The only real hiccup was the gentleman from Vaughn (sorry I am lousy with names) deciding to back the Conservatives.  Other than that it has all been good news and if they can keep it up the Liberals could win, maybe even win big.

The Conservatives have had a terrible first week.  Stephen Harper did not want to have this election and it shows.  From his first news conference at Rideau Hall to the present he has not looked comfortable campaigning.  His head is not in the game as demonstrated by the coalition gambit and the debate challenge.  By most accounts it was his idea to pursue the coalition angle and how he believed that his own words about the issue, from 2004 and 1997, would not enter into the conversation is astounding.  Then there is the debate challenge.  Making the challenge undid everything the Conservatives have been trying to do since Michael Ignatieff became leader of the Liberal Party.  It made him an equal.  Backing out of the debate just 24 hours after issuing the challenge makes him look weak.  This and other gaffes have made Mr. Harper go further into the bubble that he started the campaign in, freezing out the media, much to their chagrin, which could have some negative impacts on the campaign in the medium to long-term.  His campaign has been Seinfeldian in nature.  He only made two real promises this week.  One that will not take effect until Jim Kirk starts his 5 year mission and the one today, which everybody could see coming, and which he announced on a Friday afternoon.  Again, people are noticing, including the media, and some serious questions regarding the Conservative campaign are being posed.

All that being said, the Conservatives can take some solace from two polls today.  Despite all of their troubles they have not seemed to have suffered for it, yet. 

However, Conservatives had better take those estimates with a grain of salt.  Conservatives just need to look to Prime Minister Martin's campaign of 2006 to see what happens to party leaders who focus mainly on fear during an election campaign and who leads a campaign beset with problems like the Conservative campaign has been of late.  If it continues it will catch up to them.

Some state that the Conservatives could turn things around and that is certainly true.  However, the kind of campaign the Conservatives are having can feed on themselves and no matter what the party or leader does they just cannot right the ship.

The NDP is having its typical election campaign.  It is trying to be heard and trying to appear relevant.  So far, its policy proposals have been underwhelming.  It too can take solace from the latest EKOS poll as they were the only party that saw their estimates move outside of the MOE.  The other parties were all pretty static.

The Bloc is the Bloc.  Gilles Duceppe is a seasoned campaigner and he has the advantage of only having to campaign in Quebec.  So far, his party seems to be holding its own.  If Quebecers collectively decide, again, to be disengaged from the governance of Canada they should do well.  If that begins to change, watch their fortunes change for the worst, quickly.

The decision of the media consortium to not include the Greens is a gift for them.  It allowed them to be heard at least for a short time this week.  Any other decision and the Greens would not have received any attention at all.

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