Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On election strategies

Lawrence Martin, at the iPolitics site, apparently has some of the low down on possible Liberal strategy in a coming election as the Ignatieff road trip begins today. A few quick thoughts...

On first reading, I thought, hmmm, it might not be the smartest thing to be telegraphing strategy so publicly and in what appears to be a fair amount of detail. On further reading though, when you size up the piece, what's really being said there is one thing. That the ballot question is going to be about Harper and his government's record. The column's "are you better off" framing speaks to that point, so I'm not making too much of the unfortunate Reaganesque evocation it carries with it. The issues canvassed are the expected ones, so again, not too much downside in laying it all out like this.

You can hear the predictable reaction coming to the "are you better off" framing, that surely this plays to the Conservatives' economic strong suit. Yet...there's still no willingness evident in the polls to hand Stephen Harper the majority keys on economic or any other issues no matter how much they push their focus-on-the-economy shtick. Political unease, financial unease, it's here. How that will play out during an election is unpredictable. See for example, the last quote of the story, on the F-35 purchase to the effect that the more the public hears about it, according to polling, the less they like it (put much more colourfully there). That has been borne out by at least two public polls to date as well. It's also one of those hard and fast issues that will have the parties on opposite sides. Pensions are another sleeper issue, perhaps, although not given a lot of attention in the piece.

It's a positive that democratic reform is being singled out as one issue that will see more proposals brought out for an election.

This notion that people pay more attention during a campaign and that opposition leaders will make it or break it during that campaign...I'm not so sure about that theory anymore in this heightened media era. Anything that can be done today to help "make it" should probably be in the doing stage now, i.e., don't wait. Which is why this tour that is kicking off today is a good thing. And if there is no election this spring, courtesy of the Bloc, then Liberals should tour, tour, tour and tour some more.