Tuesday, October 27, 2020

On bigger pictures

There are still plenty of important results to be finalized in Saskatchewan's election campaign, and I'll have more to say about specific aspects of the campaign generally. But for starters following a disappointing election night, I'll offer a comparison to another election with a similar feel to it.

When a federal election was called in 2008, it seemed to present a golden opportunity for the NDP. The Cons had managed to trash Stephane Dion beyond repair, but couldn't make Stephen Harper seem remotely appealing (especially as he tried to minimize the pain of an ongoing recession). And both major national parties appeared to have given up on major gains in Quebec where opportunities seems to be opening up for the first time.

From there, the NDP's campaign had some successes in theory, including a clever play on the Cons' "strength" rhetoric, a memorable ad campaign, smart plans to highlight an attempted push into contention for government , and a stark contrast between in economic philosophy between itself and the government. And there was at least some polling which raised the prospect of massive breakthroughs.

But the hope for historic improvements gave way to a mixed bag of results The NDP managed slight increases in seats and vote share, while winning important beachheads. But the failings weren't limited to falling short of expectations: in the context of a disengaged electorate, it actually saw a drop in total votes at a time when that had direct financial implications for a party.

And so there was plenty of commentary to the effect that the NDP would never achieve that campaign's ambitions - or that at the very least, it should roll the dice on a new leader to try to shake things up. 

Needless to say, the party was best served rejecting the advice of the doomsayers.

The Saskatchewan campaign just concluded likewise saw a painful disconnect between a well-thought-out campaign which seemed to have been generating momentum, and the final results (recognizing those aren't yet in). 

And it's especially frustrating that election-day turnout was both low, and unusually tilted toward an incumbent party. But at the same time, it makes some sense that the public health risks associated with the election, combined with the Sask Party's flood of demotivational advertising, may have kept voters from making the effort to cast a ballot for change.

To be sure, there will be a need to reassess what worked and what didn't. But let the 2008 federal result offer a reminder that one-time disappointment can lay the groundwork for progress to come.

1 comment:

  1. Sub-Boreal11:18 a.m.

    Watching from BC, it's hard not to be concerned. I grew into political awareness back in the '70s thinking of SK as the moral centre of Canadian politics. Now it's just the grumpy old man of Confederation, yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.

    When is someone going to write the SK version of "What's the Matter with Kansas?".