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Old 04-01-2011, 10:50 PM   #29 (permalink)

giant steps
'trane's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 15,190

You might find the current federal election campaign underwhelming.

You are right.

This is particularly true if you live in the majority of this country in the West outside Vancouver and Winnipeg, or in Toronto, rural Quebec or English Montreal, or those seats held by a long-time and popular incumbent.

Oh sure. Signs are up. You might get a leaflet on your door. On election day, people will pester you to vote.

But the full force of the election isn’t aimed at you. Your vote is already taken for granted and your MP notionally placed in the “elected” column. You know who I’m talking about. The one that won last time and is going to win again.

Basically, most of us live in the electoral equivalent of Utah.

Allow me to explain.

In U.S presidential elections, campaigns worry about winning states rather than total votes. So states that are strongly Democrat or Republican are ignored, and “battlefield” states, particularly large ones with a lot of Electoral College votes, are bombarded with ads and events.
The 2011 Canadian election is being fought by the Conservatives in almost exactly the same manner.

They are focused like a laser on the 20 or so seats held by the opposition that can put them over the top for a majority. The rest of the country is basically meaningless for them.

The Conservatives have a pseudo-campaign that is there as a placeholder for the rest of the country. Stephen Harper takes a couple of questions from the national gallery and puts out a message about “the coalition.” That is all designed to hold the base in place for the Conservative incumbents and get the supporters out to vote on election day.

Then he goes back to an event aimed at the South Asian community in Mississauga.

Basically, there is only the semblance of a national election campaign from the Conservatives. There is a tightly controlled, no-mistakes, low-risk tour, and ads designed to goose turnout and rile up existing Conservative voters.

But if you live in Vancouver South or Brampton West or Welland, it probably feels like someone is driving up and down your street with a bullhorn.

You are getting direct-mail pieces on issues of core interest to you. If you are a senior, on increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement. If you are a parent, on the arts-and-crafts tax credit and RESP sharing. If you are a one-income family, on income-splitting.

You are getting robo-dialers leaving messages in your voice mail.You are receiving letters from community leaders in your cradle tongue.

And that’s every day.

At the same time, there is a constant attempt by the Conservatives to weaken turnout among Liberals.

The “boring campaign” strategy is a part of this. Conservative voters skew older and wealthier, and are more likely to vote. Liberal voters are younger and poorer in these ridings, and more likely to forget about the election if they aren’t engaged.

However, the big thrust is the move to overcome the natural incumbency advantage by linking the vote to the national leader, Michael Ignatieff, and not to the local candidate. Incumbent MPs are tricky to defeat, as they have name recognition and an expectation that they can do the job.
By running ads (and more importantly, in riding messages) that emphasize the perceived weaknesses of the Liberal Leader, the Tories are working to de-motivate Liberal voters and get them to stay home. “Just Visiting” isn’t about making swing voters cast a ballot for their local Conservative. They are about making Liberal supporters stay home, and lower the number of votes a Conservative needs to win the riding.

If you live in a battlefield riding, you probably know it. And if you don’t, you will before May 2.
Tory strategy ensures there is no national election - The Globe and Mail
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