Election Strategery: The NDP
Today, we start off with those lovable losers, the New Democrats.
The 2004 Campaign: Layton made some major gaffes early when he blamed Paul Martin for killing homeless people and mused that he'd tear up the Clarity Act (as an aside: even PMPM is on the Clarity bandwagon these days). Layton was accused by many of being too "chippy" in the debates and not appearing prime ministerial enough. Despite all this, his party found itself near 20% in the polls heading into the last weekend of the campaign. Then, NDP voters jumped in droves to the Liberals to "Stop Harper".
The Result: 19 Seats, 16% of the popular vote, and Layton barely beat Dennis Mills to win his own seat.
Since Then: Ask anyone, and they'll admit the Dippers have been the big winners of this Parliament. Layton has shown everyone that it's not size that matters, it's how you use it. Despite only 19 seats (now 18), he forced the Liberals to re-write their budget to suit his liking and is now controlling the timing of the next election. In addition, he's allowed the Tories to play "bad Cop" on Adscam, while he talks about the issues and "making Parliament work". He's looked like a Statesman, and has been consistently at 20% in the polls.
The Leader: Jack Layton. He's certainly the most highly respected of the three federalist chiefs. He's had a lot to learn during his time in Ottawa and seems to have come a long way over the past two years. He'd jumped straight from A-ball to the majors before the last election so he should perform better this time with the experience of 2004 under his belt.
The Team: Ed Broadbent won't be running again. And Bev Desjarlais in gone after losing her nomination (likely over her opposition to equal marriage). Apparently the NDP have actually recruited a few candidates with banking and/or economics backgrounds which is a small miracle in itself.
Unofficial Slogan: "Have you seen the other guys?"
Campaign Song: Nelly Furtado's Powerless.The Issue: Jack used private health care to distance himself from the Liberals. This is a risky strategy since voters tend to flock to the Liberals when health care becomes the issue. Of course, if Jack can paint the Liberals and Tories with the same brush, it could be a winner.
Key Strategy: Above all else, the goal of the NDP this election should be to prevent their voters from bleeding to the Liberals in a "Stop Harper" movement. I did a rough calculation after the last election and the late rush to the Liberals likely cost the NDP around 13 seats. Because of this, Layton needs to bite his tongue and play nice with Stephen. Make it known that he could work with the Conservatives in a minority situation. Let it slip that you like Harper's ethics package and would back it. And, above all else, don't play into Martin's hands when the talk of private health care, abortion, and minority rights is brought up. I know the NDP is in a lot of tight races with the Tories, but voters on the ground don't realize this. So, when they want to stop Harper, they'll vote Liberal even if they're in a Tory/NDP riding where the Liberals have no chance in hell of winning.
1. Don't forget the corruption issue.
2. Emphasize how your party tried to "make parliament work".
3. Look statesmanlike during debates. From all indication, there could be four debates this time, and with fewer candidates going door to door in the cold, the national campaign will take on greater importance.
4. Be frank about your prospects - you aren't going to win and everybody knows this. Be blunt about wanting to be the balance of power.
5. Watch out for the Green Party.
Prediction: I'll go into specific seat predictions later, but it's safe to say the NDP will finish somewhere from 20 to 30 seats. Expect some gains in Saskatchewan and BC.