Saturday, October 17, 2015
Election 2015: The Final Days
This campaign for the Conservatives has been a total disaster from start to finish, and it frankly shocks me that with such a poorly constructed and delivered campaign that they are still enjoying the support of 30% of the electorate, which has been basically unchanged from the start. It seems that there are people who will vote for Harper no matter what, and this baked in 30% will remain with the Conservatives into the future, and because of this the choice for the next Conservative leader will be an interesting race. Harper managed to keep the fringe right mostly at bay, but the next leader could decide to go the Republican route and focus their policies entirely on the base, which will essentially make them undetectable in a general election, just like the Republicans.
Now looking back on the campaign, it started out quite well for the NDP, but what probably caused them the greatest damage was not proposing a platform that would appeal to Quebecers. I am not sure the niqab was the only issue that hurt the NDPs chances. The main problem was that the NDP platform was making many promises, while at the same not admitting that they would have to go into deficit to fund them. They also made the critical mistake of backing away from their progressive roots and moving too far to the centre. Progressive parties have to learn that voters who vote progressive actually want progressive policies, not Conservative light, or Liberal policies. Toward the end of the Campaign Mulcair started to hammer away at the issues that progressive care about more (like C51 and TPP), but it was a bit too late. He tried to go for the middle, and ended up being smacked down by disappointed progressives, and was unable to convince the "anyone but Harper" crowd that he could form government, so they headed over to the Trudeau camp, and are poised to put him into office on Monday.
The Liberals have run a very impressive and disciplined campaign. Trudeau performed well at the debates, and was able to capitalize on Mulcair's mistake and position himself as the agent of progressive change. Whether he will actually govern progressively is another matter, but his tactic of out left-ing the NDP worked. The dark spot was the corruption allegations that came out in the last week of the campaign, that had they had time to percolate could likely have cost the Liberals more than they are probably going to lose because of it. The old Liberal party is still there, and that was a very unfortunate blot on an otherwise very well run campaign. I suspect that people who are worried about Liberal corruption will probably weigh that with the fact that the Liberals look to be the best choice to replace Harper and will overlook it.
Now as for predictions of the outcome it is hard to say. I suspect that by the time Ontario votes are mostly in we will have Liberal minority, and I think a strong one. I think there is a possibility of a majority as the Liberals have been polling at 38% in some polls, but that support is mostly concentrated in Ontario, and unless Quebec goes red in a bigger way than the polls are currently showing it will not be a majority. the Conservatives will hold on to the rural and western base but they will get around 28 to 30%. The NDP will probably fall to around 23-25%, and will lose a good chunk of Quebec seats to the Bloc and Liberals. Harper will step down, and if the NDP does much worse than 25% Mulcair will too. If there is a closer minority then Mulcair will likely stay on.
This campaign has been a real test for Canadians, and the main question has been not so much about Harper, but about how Canadians see themselves, what role they want Canada to play on the world stage, and the direction they want to see their country go in. I am hopeful that the negative rhetoric and Islamophobia that was being propagated by both the CPC and the Bloc during this campaign will not sway voters toward them. I am hopeful that Canadians will see that for what it is and vote against it. I am hopeful for Canada for the first time in a long time. Canadians have a real choice on Monday. I hope everyone who can vote, does vote.