Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Key Issues

The National ran a story tonight on the Top 10 issues for the election campaign, based on a poll they did. I forget the details and can't find the list on their website but, from memory, the top 7 were:

7. Iraq
6. Gas prices
5. Poverty
4. Taxes
3. Economy
2. Sponsorship Scandal (14% of respondents)
1. Health Care (35% of respondents)

The thing is, I doubt any of these will be the main issues by the end of the campaign (although gas prices could be a bit of a sleeper issue). Sure, the sponsorship scandal and taxes vs. health care are front and centre now, but will they stick? The 2000 election was decided by Barney the Dinosaur, Rick Mercer, a ski-do and Niagara Falls. I also have a hunch the debates will be very important this time around. With three new leaders and an election which matters, mistakes will be made and no one will want to play it safe. As a result, we might see a repeat of 1984 or (to a lesser extent) 1988, when the debates made a real difference. Which issue will get the sound byte? Your guess is as good as mine but I wouldn't be surprised if that issue turns out to be the one which frames the campaign. And it might be something trivial like CSL or Harper's firewall comments - who knows?

Now, as for health care, the interesting thing about the CBC poll was they asked which party was best equipped to handle health care:
Liberals 30%
NDP 22%
Conservatives 20%

Honestly, I'm surprised those numbers are so close. And assuming very few feel the Bloc or Greens can handle health care, that leaves a good 30-35% of the population undecided. So can the Liberals really run on health when only 30% of Canadians feel they're the best to handle it? I guess we might be about to find out.

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