Friday, August 28, 2015

On crystallized positions

I've largely held off on discussing federal polls since few of them seem to be out of line with my initial assessment of the election as a three-way race with the NDP in a narrow lead, but with plenty of room for movement during the election campaign.

But EKOS' latest signals that we may have reached the point where more of the same is news in and of itself - particularly for the party which most needs to try to change the direction of public opinion.

While there might once have been reason to wonder whether public assessments of the NDP and Lib leaders would hold up until the glare of an election campaign, those questions seem largely to have been answered. One could have doubted whether Tom Mulcair's high approval ratings would hold up when he was still unknown to a substantial number of voters - but he's still in strong positive territory with only 12% of respondents giving a "don't know" or no response. And while Justin Trudeau likely won't be returning to his honeymoon levels of support anytime soon, he seems to have leveled off at a neutral-to-positive assessment despite being the target of years of concentrated attacks.

As a result, the Cons are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to leadership. Instead of being able to rely on Harper being seen as bland but acceptable by enough people to vote them into office, they now have no choice but to try to attack the credibility of more-popular leaders in a spending-limited environment when the lone spokesperson they dare to put in front of a camera is disliked by two-thirds of the population (and distrusted by even more).

Similarly, the change/no change question seems to have been decisively resolved against the Cons. It may have been possible to point to vote splitting as a factor operating in their favour when enough voters to make up a majority were satisfied with matters as they stood; it's rather more difficult when the wrong-track and change numbers are into the high 60s, particularly when voters don't trust the government's claims as to how the country is doing.

In sum, we've reached the point where people know exactly what they think of Stephen Harper and his party, both in general and in relation to their opponents. And it's hard to see how two more months of the same from the Cons can turn the public in their favour.


  1. i suspect that in the remaining weeks of the campaign the Con strategy relies on two weapons that they will take out in the final period. One is an all-out assault on Mulcair. This assault will take various attitudes, one of which will probably be straight up lies the depth of which will depend on Con desperation. The other prong of their strategy will be some form of scare tactic. This could be anything from mass arrests of supposed "terrorists" (including maybe operatives in the other major parties) to an actual attack of some sort that they arrange. In other words they will pull out every stop to win, and if nothing seems to be working don't be surprised at a last minute effort at marshal-law and a postponement of the elections. (This wouldn't, I think, take the form of an attempt to formally withdraw the writ but an actual adoption of the War Measures Act which they retain the legal right to invoke.)

  2. To clarify, it would, of course, be the so-called Emergencies Act that the government would have to invoke, an act which is supposed to have a great deal more oversight than the pervious act but which has never been tested and might do just as well with the support of the GG.

    1. The scare tactic scenario is certainly the one that looks most worrisome to me since that's the one that would avoid or warp the election altogether. I don't see how an all-out attack on Mulcair would accomplish much with the Libs still close enough to take over the anti-Harper vote - which is why I don't see normal electoral tactics doing much to help the Cons at this point.

  3. Anonymous6:27 PM

    If anyone asks, I'll be in the beaver pond in the backyard.