Election Strategery: The Grits
As an added bonus, I'll lead off with a recap of the national caucus election conference call from earlier this evening. A contact of mine sent me a recap of the call (gosh, I feel just like Susan Delacourt).
Herle's Strategery: The Liberals will, not surprisingly, treat this as a two part campaign. The first part will be damage control, as they expect Harper to go negative right off the bat and get a bump in the polls. Since the electorate is still quite volatile, they're advising local campaigns to stay away from identifying voters and, instead, to find volunteers and fundraise (while people are Christmas shopping? Huh?). The second part of the campaign will feature an all out ad blitz and they're banking on Harper not having any substance past the corruption issue to maintain momentum through a lengthy campaign.
The 2004 Campaign: John McCallum and Judy Sgro were sent out to heckle Stephen Harper. Paul stumbled through the debates. David Herle said his own campaign was in a "spiral". Yes, things were looking bleak for the Liberals in the Most Important Election Ever. Then, the Liberals launched some of the most effective attack ads in Canadian history and the Conservative campaign imploded upon itself. Paul talked about the economy and his record, and then scared the bejesus out of NDP voters. I'll give the big guy credit - he digs himself out of holes better than most politicians in recent memory.
The Result: 135 seats and 37% of the vote.
Since Then: After promising to fix healthcare for a generation in front of the TV cameras, Paul hammered out a backroom deal which gave 42 billion to the provinces in exchange for nothing. And Quebec didn't even have to give the nothing. Then Danny Williams threw a hissy fit and Paul gave him a few billion. Then Lorne Calvert felt Saskatchewan was getting a raw deal so he got bought off. Then Dalton McGuinty proved why Ontario has always been the problem child of confederation and he got a few billion. Starting to see a pattern?
The Leader: Paul Martin. (I think I'll just follow the old adage - "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all")
The Team: The Grits continue to show why resistance is futile, luring over Belinda Stronach and recruiting Marc Garneau and Michael Ignatieff, among others, to run.
Unofficial Slogan: "Shit happens. But do you really want Stockwell Day in Cabinet?"
Campaign Song: Money for Nothing
The Issue: The record. The recent spending spree could really hurt Martin's credibility on the economy but it's been twelve years of, more or less, good government. Even though I don't necessarily think he's handled all of the following issues well, it would likely be a good idea to mention his accomplishments since the last election: Health Accord, Child Care, Same Sex Marriage, "No" to BMD. And, of course, Goodale's proposed tax cuts.
The Commercial: Go negative or go home. It worked last time and I think it's worth going down that path again. Make Harper the issue and the Liberals will be in good shape.
1. Marginalize the NDP. Don't even acknowledge Jack Layton's existence - focus squarely on Harper to frame it as a two horse race. And it might be a good idea to help the Green Party out, however possible.
2. Ask Harper a few times if he'd repeal the same sex marriage legislation. (I actually wrote this before Harper's comments today...keep the issue alive)
3. When Harper attacks the recent roman orgy of spending, ask him which bills he wouldn't honour.
4. Campaign extensively in BC and Ontario. Ignore the rest of the country.
5. That said, play for federalist votes in Quebec. Let Dion run the show there, rather than Lapierre. Wells has a good article on this.
6. Bring up foreign policy. I know most Canadians don't give a rats ass about it, but a lot of people think Martin is his best on the international scene. If there's a big summit or meeting he can sneak off to during the campaign and look Prime Ministerial at, then he should definitely go.
7. Oh, and this may be asking a lot, but if Paul could somehow get a clear vision for Canada, that would be a big boost.
Prediction: While I don't necessarily share Paul Wells' somewhat fantastic range of "Liberal majority to Liberal wipeout" that he mused about on the National last week, we're probably looking at anywhere from 100 to 135 seats.