41st Federal Election Thoughts & Predictions
Always easier to find old political predictions on the blog as opposed to Twitter where they are quickly lost to the sands of internet time. I can still locate some of the Ghosts of Elections Past by using Google to find them here. E-day is upon us and I had originally planned to dig into it province-by-province, if not riding-by-riding, but events got into the way last night (you may have heard) and I lost a couple of hours to the television and Twitter.
I was not active for this federal campaign. Some other roles have kept me busy two or three weekday nights as it is, plus my wife and I are getting our house ready to put it up for sale within a few weeks. I'm not paid for politics nowadays, so I felt okay making the choice to just sit one out, but I'll admit I started to feel bad in the last week when my opinion on the local race started to soften somewhat.
So here is some basic thoughts and observations on the election in general:
- The Conservative Campaign was poorly run for the first time in three elections. Message track was lost, it felt slow to react (save for the one brief glimmer of abortion talk) and overall, gave Canadians no particular reason to think about them positively. That could cost the majority, but what it really did was prevent any chance that the weakening Liberal vote would consider moving to the Tories in any serious numbers. I hope a serious regroup and rethink will be a part of the postmortem.
- Well, well, well... Hat tip to Jack Layton. His eight-year plan to change the NDP from a Labour/Farmer party to a Downtown-Urban Canada party is finally paying off in spades. Coming off the cancer, and getting through a grueling campaign pace, I must say I am in awe of the achievement. The federal NDP finishing ahead of the Liberals in a general election will be a tremendous psychological achievement for the party. Quebec looks to give the NDP the beachhead that they gave Stephen Harper in 2004. "Official Opposition" will look good on them and bring a new swath of voters to the party.
The shame of it is that Layton is at an age (and health) where he is unlikely to enjoy this success for the long term. Even if I am disturbed by the massage parlor story, I think that political successes such as his should get to be enjoyed, because they are hard to achieve and miserable getting there.
For the record: The Layton-acknowledged facts open up more questions than they answer. The official storyline of the apologists insults my intelligence in light of the scenario that admittedly took place. I make no excuses or apologies for holding up a potential leader of the country to a higher standard than the guy I get to work on my car, be my dentist, etc. We'll see if more media come to this story in the week ahead, but the double-standard in coverage bothers me as a conservative who usually defends the media to other conservatives. I don't believe for one second that the coverage would have been the same with other politicians. Get the facts out of the table, let the public decide if it matters or not.
- I was wrong on Michael Ignatieff. He appears to be a solid campaigner and took the role on with gusto. Problem is, he and the party allowed the Conservatives to establish enough negatives against his leadership, that the best first week of the election still couldn't get his positives to budge. And then when he took the attendance killshot from Jack Layton in the debate, he was suddenly taking fire from both sides and couldn't react quickly enough. (Possibly because of his campaign inexperience. Say what you want about long-time veteran pols. they have usually seen a little bit of everything on the campaign trial and know how to recognize when course corrections must take place.)
Michael Ignatieff's brief sojourn to Canadian politics will be ending shortly. I have never made fun of his accomplishments. I have never made fun of his education. I didn't even give him a hard time about living outside Canada his entire adult life, then returning to run for Prime Minister (and it was always the top prize that appealed to him), though I considered it a major liability. I cannot imagine someone wanting to lead the complicated country that is our homeland without being here to experience some of the major formative events of the last thirty years. Anyone who travels abroad knows that Canadian news does not filter out with the depth and breadth that one gets the full picture.
The party is in major trouble and Liberals will need to pick up the pieces quickly and move on. I don't believe it can survive another dud leader, so who they chose to lead them will make or break the future of the party.
- I strongly believe that a Tory majority would be best for the country. I'm an apologist for Harper somewhat, but I believe that a lot of the gov't shortcomings have come about because of the minority situation combined with not one single natural partner amongst the opposition for cooperation. When that happens, you need to game the system to pass your agenda, and it's that gaming that I really detest about some of the choices made.
I believe that a four-year cool down from constant campaign mode that the country has been in since '03 would only be a good thing for everybody involved. A majority would allow the Prime Minister and gov't to pass their agenda as they wish, finally revealing to all exactly what they would like to implement, as opposed to some of the blocking and stalling that results in the watered down finesse required of passable bills today.
A majority would also allow the opposition to oppose without having to dance around bring down the government. The Liberals and NDP are both experiencing big shake ups. Four years of planning and preparation would make for a stronger pair of parties in 2015 when we would have our next election.
- Now a few factors I'm working into my predictions:
a) Canadian politics usually defaults to the less-interesting.
b) The NDP surge is real, but not overwhelming.
c) The Tories ran a strategy that will pay off with pockets of victories that will offset any losses.
d) The destruction of the Bloc - while something to cheer for - won't be as dire as projected.
e) Elizabeth May still won't be winning a seat.
After looking at it pretty closely for a week, asking around as many folks with knowledge I could, following expert picks on Twitter, and waiting out the last possible polls to gauge the NDP, I'm going with the following numbers for tonight:
New Democrats: 64
Bloc Quebecois: 28
Independents: 1 (Arthur)
I think the Tories typically pull more vote than they poll and had them starting the week in the 160s, but had to dial that back, if only to be on the safer side. I see seat pick-ups in Ontario being good for most of their 15 seat gain, but also one or two here (Newfoundland, PEI) and one or two there (Vancouver Island, Yukon). I also don't see them losing a lot in any given area. Maybe one or two in BC, another three or four in Quebec. But nothing major in the form of a country-wide sweep.
People have the advanced polls wrong. Many think that advanced polls will deliver a big victory for non-incumbents, but if you look at where the advanced polling increased the most 2008 to 2011, you start to recognize that it is a lot of Tory ridings and a lot of ridings where the Tories are expected to seriously challenge the incumbent. It will not shock me if in many ridings, the advance poll has the Tories at a larger percentage than the rest of the riding.
Locally, I started out saying 14/14 Manitoba incumbents returned and that was my position as recently as last Wednesday. On Thursday, I began to waiver on Winnipeg North and now think that the NDP wave will get Kevin. Interesting sub-plot there will be if he then runs for his open provincial seat again. Everyone has that as a provincial NDP pick-up right now.
Interesting things could be taking place in Elmwood-Transcona, St. Boniface and Winnipeg South Centre, but again, default to the least interesting and leave them be until somebody surprises tomorrow.
And there will be surprises. Every election has them.
My various wagers at play that have been accumulated over time:
- Harper Majority (made last year) - $20
- Maxime Bernier will return to cabinet under PMSH (made before '08 Elxn) - $20 (I like this one to pay off if the Tories lose Cannon.)
- Winnipeg South Centre goes Tory (made two Christmas's ago) - Pitcher of Beer
- Winnipeg South Centre goes Tory (made last night) - $5 getting four to one which would pay $20
- Winnipeg South will remain Tory (made last year) - $20
- Elizabeth May will not get elected (made six months ago) - $10
- Elizabeth May will not get elected (made three months ago) - $10 (same guy)
- Elizabeth May will not get elected (made two weeks ago) - $20 (yep, all the same die-hard)
- Ruby Dhalla will lose (made last week) - $10
- The Tories will be declared winners (but not majority or minority) within minutes of BC going on-air (made last night) - $10
Probably have room for a few more. Any interested parties can email me to present proposal.
Not sure where I'll be tonight. Most likely landing spot will be the Winnipeg Free Press Cafe downtown. I have heard that there won't be a central CPC party this election and besides, I wouldn't feel right drinking the beer when I didn't help out.
Get out there and vote.
(Ideally for a Conservative.)