Election Strategery: The Tories
The 2004 Campaign: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. After uniting the right (except for Joe Clark...and Scott Brison...), the Conservatives capitalized on an ineffective Liberal campaign to surge ahead by the midway mark. Harper won the English debate and began musing about a victory, a majority, and redecorating 24 Sussex. Then - Randy White, Ralph Klein, child pornography, and a victory march down Highway 2 sealed a Liberal win.
The Result: Just under 30% of the vote and just under 100 seats.
Since Then: Belinda and Peter started dating! But then she, like, dumped him!!! OMG! (for full details see what should be the post of the year). And Harper wore a funny cowboy outfit!
Yeah, there was some policy mixed into all of that and the Tories did back 1/3 of Goodale's budgets. But really, once you get past tight leather vests and Belinda's romances, the rest of the stuff just seems trivial.
The Leader: Stephen Harper. It's hard to know what to think of Harper. He can be the star of the Press Gallery dinner, but is one of the most charismatically challenged politicians to come to Ottawa in a long time. He has a reputation for being a smart guy, but then says that the SSM legislation lacks legitimacy because the BQ supported it. He can orchestrate a complex merger between the Tories and the CA and wind up as leader, but then kisses away an election that was handed to him on a silver platter through bone headed strategy decisions.
The Team: While their leader is probably holding them back, the Tories have a very strong team around him. Peter MacKay could be a future Prime Minister, Monte Solberg could easily be a future talk show host, and Rona Ambrose could easily be a future shampoo commercial model. OK, OK, there a few nutjobs in there too, but Harper has been able to relegate most of them to the backbenches.
Unofficial Slogan: "We won't win a majority...how bad can we mess it up?"
Campaign Song: The Odds' "Heterosexual Man"
The Issue: A change would do you good (which is, by the way, my serious suggestion for their campaign song). The most recent Decima poll shows how dangerous the desire for change has become for the Liberals. Don't get me wrong, they should hammer away at the Liberals on Adscam at every opportunity. But they need to somehow show that they'll be different. Harper's Federal Accountability Act should be the focus of his campaign. Forget tax cuts - this is what he needs to base his entire campaign on.
The Commercial: Go for reality. Show clips of Sheila Fraser blasting the Liberals, a few "culture of entitlement" quotes, Jean Brault's testimony, Dingwall holding up the gum packet, newspaper headlines about Volpe's pizza party, and the Mr. Dithers economist article. End the commercial with a calming voice saying "there's an alternative".
1. Highlight the team. I'm not saying you should air commercials of Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper strolling through the park together (or through MacKay's potato farm), but give the young talent on the front benches a prominent role on the campaign trail.
2. Pray for Snow. Seriously. The Conservatives have a much more dedicated base of supporters. An election day blizzard in Ontario is their best case scenario.
3. Push for more debates. Paul Martin is a horrible debater - even Martin supporters will concede this. Harper will wipe the floor with Martin in the debates so the more he can get, the better.
4. Play the underdog card. Start off slowly and don't muse about a majority government.
5. Muzzle your candidates. The last thing you need is another Randy White incident.
Prediction: That's the big question, isn't it? My hunch is 100 to 120 seats which means that come the end of January, Harper will either have resigned as CPC leader or he'll be Prime Minister of Canada.