Thursday, August 6, 2015

Election 2015: What Each Leader Needs To Do To Win Debate #1

With the debates set for tonight, now is a good opportunity to think about what each leader needs to bring to the table to be successful and get a "win" if not a "knockout" that might influence the polls in the coming days. Each of the three major party leaders has their own challenges coming into this debate, and the one who is most successful could well see public opinion start to move in their favour. All of them want to say they came out on top, but it takes time after a debate to know for sure who was the "winner", and all of the parties will try and capitalize off any gaffs or good soundbites they can get from the other leaders to use in ads after the debate.

Thomas Mulcair coming into the debate has the most to lose. He is ahead in the polls.and is perceived to be the strongest debater of the three leaders. So if he does not perform well, it may hurt him more than the other two. Harper and Trudeau will zero in on Mulcair's economic credentials, and question his platform, particularly the pledge for a $15.00 minimum wage which is somewhat less than truthful. Harper will probably question Mulcair on taxes, and being weak on terrorism, and Trudeau will try to pin Mulcair down as being more similar to Harper than not. This is the biggest threat to Mulcair. He wants to be the face of change, and if Trudeau can successfully paint Mulcair as being more of the same closed off, bullying, media shy style of the past 10 years under Harper, it could be disastrous for Mulcair. The key to winning the debate for Mulcair is to not allow himself at any point to look like an uptight bully, particularly standing next to Trudeau. He needs to make sure that he keeps his composure, hits at Harper's record, and does not entirely dismiss Trudeau, because if he does it could harm him. He also needs to make sure he has all his numbers straight, and won't be caught off by economic questions. If Canadians think he can't be trusted with the money, he will see his soft support run back to the Liberals.

One of Harper's spokesmen said that Justin Trudeau would succeed in the debate "if he comes on stage with his pants on", and he isn't entirely wrong in that assessment. Trudeau is the candidate with the most to gain from the debates. After months of relentless ad campaigns trying to make Trudeau look like a fool who can't even tie his own shoelaces, if he can make it through the debate people will probably take a second look at his policies, because by and large they are the most sensible. Trudeau can also use his appearance to his benefit in this debate. He is younger, more fit, and more confident than the other two leaders in the way he carries himself. If he can contrast himself as the nice guy with decent policies who is going to answer questions and is willing to attend all the debates, as opposed to Harper and Mulcair who are more about the political play than the Canadian people, he could score some major points. Trudeau's biggest challenge will be not to give Harper or Mulcair anything to run with that confirms the attack ads. He needs to be careful not to have any obvious gaffs, and to speak clearly and confidently. He will need to hit out on both sides, but he would be wise to let Harper and Mulcair go after eachother more than him, and squeeze through the middle with a few mentions of their similarities, the way Jack Layton did in 2011.

Mr Harper is an experienced debater. He also has the weight of his record on his back, and both Trudeau and Mulcair will try to make the debate about both ethics, and the economy. Harper doesn't want to debate to turn into one about ethical concerns, particularly as they pertain to some of the criminal investigations past the present that surround his government.Harper will come out well if he can make Trudeau and Mulcair look like risky choices, which he has already started to do. What he doesn't want to do is to get caught out too much on his more obvious lies, like the budget being balanced. He needs to come up with real answers to the questions that Mulcair and Trudeau will have, because if it looks like he is outright lying about everything, the public are going to wonder how highly he rates their intelligence. Harper's biggest challenge will be to get through the debate without having to talk too much about things he doesn't like, such as the Duffy trial. If he can frame the debate to be about something like national security or making his case to stay the course on the economy. he would be happy. Harper isn't trying to win new voters, he is trying to keep the base, so he needs to tell them what they want to hear. They want to see someone tough on terrorism who will give them tax breaks. This is what he will try to deliver.

The person who wins the debate will be the one who is able to get their point across while simultaneously discrediting their opponents.This debate has the possibility of being very important in terms of the overall course of the election, so every leader will bring their their best . It's up to the public to judge the outcome.

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