Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The election's first month

Some thoughts on the election after the first month.

The Conservatives have had a brutal campaign so far.  They have been completely unable to get their message across because outside events keep stomping on it.  Duffy, the recession, the picture of the drowned refugee boy have all conspired to put the Conservatives on the defensive.  The result has been predicable.  Polls are now consistently putting the Conservatives in third place and there are rumblings from within the campaign that things are not going well.  It is interesting that the stories regarding Ms. Byrne originated from within the Conservative campaign.  That is a bad sign.

Can the Conservatives turn it around?  It is not looking good but it is conceivable.  I would say at this point that they have less than two weeks at most to do so.  In about two weeks, if the Conservatives are still in third, the story of the election will become the probable changing of government on October 19.  Once that narrative takes hold it will develop its own momentum and quickly grow to the point that nothing short of a miracle will prevent that outcome.  We have all seen it before.  At that point everything the Conservatives do during the remainder of the campaign will be seen through that lens, which would result in every action they take being seen as a party desperate to stave off defeat instead of a party confident in victory.  This is assuming that they can stop the descent they currently find themselves in.  If that descent continues over the next few days the "Conservatives are losers" narrative will take off much earlier and they will be done.

The NDP are still running a disjointed election campaign.  I still cannot discern a central message. They are still doing a decent job of trashing the other guys but they have not done a good job of convincing Canadians why they should vote for them.  Their economic plan is a study in contradiction and their opponents are only going to continue to point that out to voters.  They have an historic opportunity here but I am getting the sense that it is beginning to slip away from them.  Like the Conservatives if their numbers begin to slip to the point that they lose the lead they have had for the past five month that situation will feed upon itself and make recovering that lead very difficult.

The Liberals have had the best campaign so far.  The month of August saw them pound the economic message relentlessly, ignoring virtually everything else.  Only the picture of the boy on the beach caused them to stray from that message but only for a short time.  It seems to be paying off.  The Liberals are the only party that has shown any persistent increases in their polling numbers.  The other two parties held steady or saw decreases.  By most standards that would seem to indicate that the Liberals have the momentum. Although, it is the momentum of a snail which is probably why no one is getting too excited at this point.  Not surprisingly the other parties have about two weeks to reverse any momentum the Liberals are enjoying.

I have seem some arguments about what will happen after October 19 if a minority Parliament is elected.  I have seen some rather implausible arguments of coalitions preventing the Conservatives from forming the government if they win the most seats or of the Conservatives attempting to cling to power even if one of the other parties wins the most seats.

This is great speculation but both scenarios goes against Parliamentary convention in this country.  In our system the party that wins the most seats on election night wins the first crack at forming a government.  So if that is the Conservatives they will use all of the levers of government, public funds and Conservative Party funds to discredit any idea of a coalition replacing them.  They will delay the opening of Parliament until they are certain that they can win the first confidence vote. Anybody that does not believe that they would be successful in their efforts has not been paying attention for the last decade.

If one of the other parties wins then the Conservatives will step aside.  To do otherwise would only make their defeat during the next election that much more comprehensive.  

This "October 20" speculation is all premised on the idea that the current logjam in the polls will exist on October 19.  Between now and October 19 Canadian voters will collectively decide whether they want to replace the Conservatives or not.  In either case they will vote in sufficient numbers to ensure the the outcome is not in doubt.


Blogger Omar said...

And what of your August 2 prediction? Still holding for a Liberal majority?

September 09, 2015 9:51 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...


My five assumptions are on track. The NDP has slipped very badly in Ontario and the Conservatives are also slipping there. That will probably shake loose alot of Liberal/Conservative swing voters in the coming weeks in all provinces.

If this were a campaign of normal duration the Liberals would be right where they want to be at the beginning of it. And as it happens the remaining time left in the campaign corresponds to the normal duration.

Something really dramatic could happen between now and October 19 that completely changes the dynamic of the election but if that something does not happen, if the campaign continues to unfold as it is currently and in the usual boring fashion, I believe all of my assumptions will come to pass.

September 10, 2015 5:02 PM  

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