Monday, October 05, 2009

Nonsense by-election spin

The headline may reflect the Conservative spin that's being pushed on the upcoming 4 federal by-elections now called for November 9: "Conservatives pessimistic on upcoming byelections." But it's punctured quite readily:
But University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman said Conservatives are tactically playing down expectations.

“That is a Conservative seat. Bill Casey is a (former) Conservative. They are going to win that seat,” Wiseman said. He believes the Tories have “an excellent chance” in B.C. where they came in 3% behind the NDP.
There you go. The Conservatives have a good shot at winning both of the seats in B.C. and N.S.. Same gist in CP:
Conservatives are trying to lower expectations, predicting they're unlikely to win any of the four.

In fact, the results of the 2008 general election suggest the Tories are in contention in at least two of the four ridings. And the results will likely be seen as a harbinger of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ability to win a majority, whenever the next general election is eventually held.
That last sentence, however, not necessarily a fair extrapolation. If the Conservatives were to win 2 of the 4 ridings, it will be a virtual affirmation of the status quo given how close they were in 2008 with that B.C. riding and the fact that the N.S. riding has long been Conservative. 3 out of 4 seems a stretch, as Conservative fortunes of late in Quebec certainly don't look favourable to a pick-up in a by-election. So it's unlikely that a federal general result could be tied to whatever happens in these races.

Another indicator of our hyper-partisan environment, the by-elections were just called yesterday and the outcomes are being professionally spun to the rafters already.

Update: And this spin by a Conservative official putting it to Liberals to make gains in the Quebec ridings in particular, which seemed to be the suggestion, is ludicrous. Those are Bloc strongholds.

I think we should adopt a rule. Listen to the spin and then surmise the exact opposite.