Sunday, November 27, 2005

Election Strategery: The Tories

I've already previewed the NDP and the BQ, now we move on to the official opposition.


C...P...C...

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".


Other Advice:
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.

33 Comments:

  • "Harper won the English debate"

    I thought so too when I was watching it. However, the effect of the debate was clearly to give Martin a boost. Harper lost the election that night.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 12:51 PM  

  • Is there any chance that the cons/dippers/bloc could find new votes from Chretien supporters bent upon revenge or will they throw their support behind Martin? I ask because I think the opposition parties could be doing more to drive that wedge. Tom Manley's (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) election banner actually says "Paul Martin's Liberals" - obviously trying to rebrand the party as "new". How's this sit with "old" Liberals? I guess you would be the "bad" Liberals then.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 PM  

  • 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.

    I think the recent byelection in Ontario debunks this notion. Despite the weather, the loyal cons did not make their way to the polls. Nobody did as turnout was a dismal 19% and the Liberal candidate strolled to an easy victory.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 1:26 PM  

  • Robert

    Comparing the motivation of provincial Tories, who have only been out of office for two years and the federal Tories who have been out for twelve doesn't work.

    With all the stuff that has happened in the last year and change, Tory voters are a motivated bunch this election.

    By Blogger The Hack, at 1:41 PM  

  • 1. Duceppe won the English debate. Not Harper.

    2. "A Change Would Do You Good." is an alright song, but I don't think the line "Jack Off Jimmy, everybody wants more" would go over well.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 1:44 PM  

  • Your talk of the last debates has me looking forward the next ones.

    Anyone want to bet the over/under on how many times Paul Jr. says "very, very".

    Does anyone remember him saying, "tres, tres" in the French debate. We can include that in the overall tally this time around.

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 2:04 PM  

  • With all the stuff that has happened in the last year and change, Tory voters are a motivated bunch this election.

    No, Tory political geeks are a motivated bunch this election. The average Tory however, is still as apathetic as everyone else. You need to stop believing the blogosphere is indicative of how Canadian society is.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 2:14 PM  

  • "I think the recent byelection in Ontario debunks this notion. Despite the weather, the loyal cons did not make their way to the polls. Nobody did as turnout was a dismal 19% and the Liberal candidate strolled to an easy victory."

    Honestly, comparing a provincial bi-election to a federal general election is troublesome at best.

    By Blogger Clear Grit, at 3:25 PM  

  • They should also take the high road, or at least a higher road. They should criticize the government as being incompetent and corrupt and even wankers, but they have to keep from jumping into the crazy barking rabid dog zone.

    That's exactly what the Liberals *need* to see. With an extra long campaign, that's just more time for the Conservatives to self-destruct, as they will undoubtedly do unless they all smoke some decriminalized pot.

    Lordy lord. Getting Stephen Harper installed as PM is going to be quite the fight; ironically most of that fight will be with his own goddamned team.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:58 PM  

  • One more thing. Harper needs to look like a pussy compared to Scott Reid, so the Conservatives can point to Scott Reid when they are called mean and nasty. Even Liberals hate Scott Reid.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:06 PM  

  • My biggest piece of advice for Harper would be this:

    Whatever you do, do not bite. The Liberals will say things about you and your party that will make you want to utter the words, "Oh, yeah? Well the Liberals are..."

    Fall for it, and you lose. Game over. Your biggest challenge right now is that Canadians think you're more interested in beating Paul Martin than you are in actually improving the country.

    Just say this in the mirror every morning: "There are things more important than beating Paul Martin."

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 4:33 PM  

  • man you are hilarious Bart, I think I'll ask you to be my campagin manager in a couple of years...watch...could you give me a quote, how much do you charge.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:08 PM  

  • I think the recent byelection in Ontario debunks this notion. Despite the weather, the loyal cons did not make their way to the polls. Nobody did as turnout was a dismal 19% and the Liberal candidate strolled to an easy victory.

    I am from this riding, and I can tell you the snow situation was very, very bad. The anti-Liberal forces were already convinced of a Liberal landslide, so when the snow came, they were like "Oh what the heck it doesn't matter anyways." This is a very strong Liberal riding, and the Liberals here are a committed bunch.

    By Blogger mezba, at 6:29 PM  

  • I have to agree with pretty much you posted except for the campaign song. My vote goes to "Don't Fear the Reaper"....

    Oh, and the Liberal song should be "Sweet Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac.

    And just for the heck of it cause I wanted to; PQ - "Cocaine"

    By Blogger Glen, at 9:19 PM  

  • "Harper won the English debate"

    As an arch-Conservative, I dunno. Between Martin and Layton (*head in hands* Oh dear Christ, Jack...), there wasn't to much to surpass. I was disappointed in his performance and thought he was far too uptight and far too lenient on the bullshit.

    (That being said, though, I know a lot of people who decided to move to Martin from Layton simply because they were impressed with Harper's performance... so who knows?)

    For me, the winner of both the English and French debates was actually Gilles Duceppe. Little to no bullshit. Brought up actual issues. Acted like an adult. Kept the situation under control.

    By Blogger Jarrett, at 10:29 PM  

  • I'd have to agree that, other than his unintentional funny faces, Duceppe is the leader that least often makes an ass of himself in public. I would have given him both debates as well. Too bad he's the leader of the Bloc instead of one of the federalist parties.

    -Socialist Swine

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 12:37 AM  

  • I would have gone to the Grey Cup if I knew I would have had a chance to boo Paul Martin..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:45 AM  

  • I was disappointed in his performance and thought he was far too uptight and far too lenient on the bullshit.

    Heh.

    I actually thought he came across as composed and statesmanlike. If he went in like a rabid dog that probably would have played into that "Harper is scary" garbage.

    But of course the wheels started coming off the campaign bus the next day anyway.

    What's unfortunate is how our debates have to be four man circuses.

    Only two of them can win the election and become PM. The fourth guy isn't even in the running. If Harper had the opportunity to debate Martin alone I think he'd tear him apart.

    I can hear hear the moron on stuttering already.

    By Anonymous Brandon, at 2:02 AM  

  • You're right, the Federal Accountability Act should be front and centre. It's a natural bridge from Harper's reasoning for toppling the government and answers the question; "What do you offer Canadians?"

    But it's not a complete platform, and governance is a policy area that lights few fires.

    The Conservatives will have to offer a bigger package (and they can) at some point. This however poses a problem. Offer to little and leave Canadians unimpressed, offer to much and lose focus.

    By Blogger thoughT particleS, at 9:52 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger thoughT particleS, at 10:00 AM  

  • Is it too early to ask who, exactly, a conservative minority would govern with. (Assuming, for the moment, that that's the best they can hope for.)

    Bloc? NDP?!

    Is it safe to assume that pairing with the Liberals would defeat their every purpose, as currently expressed?

    By Anonymous dru, at 11:31 AM  

  • I'm not sure the Tories should put the spotlight Peter Mackay. For all his alleged charisma, he's a lot further to the right than Harper. I'm pretty sure he's said some stuff in the past on both same-sex marriage and the death penalty that'd make him seem just as right-wing as Randy White...plus there's that whole deal with David Orchard.

    As for who a CPC government would work with, if they were to try and govern according to actual conservative ideas -- rather than trying to act like Republican neo-libs -- they might find some common ground with the Bloc over devolution of powers.

    By Anonymous matthew, at 12:25 PM  

  • Voting records for the last session showed that party support varied per bill. I don't think forming coalitions as needed is really that big of an issue.

    The real question is what bills get on the order paper, and consequently defeating which party's bills results in an election.

    Speaking from a voting perspective. There are other benefits to wearing the shiny tiara, of couse.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:48 PM  

  • Matthew, those things you said about MacKay are true, but he is not from Alberta (the place Liberals see when they think of hell) so he'l do just fine in Ontario.

    By Anonymous MSFan, at 1:51 PM  

  • The problem for the Conservatives begins and ends with Harper. If a non-Albertan was their leader, you’d probably be looking at a Conservative majority. Being from Nova Scotia, I don’t think westerners can appreciate just how much Harper is loathed in eastern Canada. I have family members who won’t vote for Harper because they despise Klein – “I’m not voting for some damn conservative from Alberta”. It’s guilt by association.

    It’s not that eastern Canada is inherently liberal in its outlook – all 4 Atlantic provinces have Conservative provincial governments. Heck, Nova Scotia voted down Sunday shopping last year. The intense loathing of a leader with roots in a western based populist party probably counts for about 15 points in the polls. It’s probably not nearly as pronounced in Ontario, but the same sentiment is definitely shared by large swaths of the population who would vote Conservative if only they had a different leader.

    If Jean Charest were the leader of the Conservatives, he’d probably sweep Atlantic Canada and pick up 60 seats in Ontario. The Conservatives are not going to win with Harper.

    "I'm pretty sure he's said some stuff in the past on both same-sex marriage and the death penalty that'd make him seem just as right-wing as Randy White"

    Contrary to popular media-fed belief, this would actually win him votes in most of Canada.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:56 PM  

  • And easterners wonder why Albertans would think about secession from Canada!

    "If a non-Albertan was their leader, you’d probably be looking at a Conservative majority"

    "...“I’m not voting for some damn conservative from Alberta”"

    This country is fucked thanks to this kind of thinking. But, oh wait, the Liberals are the only ones who can unite Canada! The Liberals are ripping this country apart, and if they get elected again then say hello to the Bloc Albertois!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:13 PM  

  • I love how only Albertans can have a monopoly on self-righteous hatred of the rest of Canada...

    "Contrary to popular media-fed belief, this would actually win him votes in most of Canada."

    I'm sure it would, but it would also ensure that Mackay wouldn't win most of Ontario, and probably all of Quebec (as if he'd even have a chance there), and last I checked, those two provinces were essential to winning elections.

    By Anonymous matthew, at 5:03 PM  

  • Alberta separatism is a whole lot of hogwash. Where are the rallies? Where are the radical youth waving Alberta flags? Where are the separatist youth clubs on campuses? Where is the passion? Albertan’s like to complain but for the most part enjoy life, and enjoy Canada. I’m sorry Mr. Anonymous, but movements for independence are born out of sense of nationalism, a unique culture, language, and religion – the best Alberta has is “um…damn Easterner’s and their NEP!”. I have a report sitting here from the “Calgary’s Youth, Canada’s Future” conference put on by the Canada West Foundation last spring with about a hundred of Calgary’s “youth leaders and top achievers” here are some choice quotes:

    “When asked if Albertans should emphasize their regional identity less and their Canadian identity more, over 60% per cent gave priority to Canada”

    “Perhaps the greatest surprise is that very few young people seem to identify at all with the province of Alberta or Western Canada. When asked to describe their principal attachments, the overwhelming majority chose to identify first as Calgarians and then as Canadians. Only one person out of all the participants chose Alberta”

    From a participant: “I’m sorry when you put the guy on the horse with the cowboy hat in front of a sunrise and say that’s Alberta, you’re wrong, that’s not Alberta. Alberta’s changing. Alberta’s gay and lesbian but it’s also racial differences…we are not the cowboy that took over the West”.

    That’s our future folks, not the Red Neck Utopia of Mr. Anonymous dreams.

    By Anonymous Bgwest, at 5:52 PM  

  • Sorry Anonymous, but I'm from B.C. and “I’m not voting for some damn conservative from Alberta” either.

    And every time I hear an Albertan talk about seperation it just reinforces this opinion. Don't even get me started on the whole "Alberta = Western Canada" attitude either. I feel that I have more in common with a voter from Ontario that I do with you.

    By Anonymous Ian, at 8:50 PM  

  • BGWest....Many Albertans are echoing pretty much the same thing, they want unity. But without a change in government this time around, the ASP will gain some support in the next election. I wouldn't say they get any seats, but they will start to gain momentum. It may not amount to much, but eventually they will nab a seat somewhere.
    Farmers are generally a pretty relaxed bunch and call em as they see em, that's why no big rallies or anything. The ASP did have quite a successful rally in Leduc however, and managed to raise a fair chunk of change...

    By Blogger DazzlinDino, at 1:52 AM  

  • Albertans are tired of paying for a confederation that they recieve NOTHING for.

    It is the angry anti-albertan rhetoric seen here that has seen me purchase a seperation party of alberta membership, along with several of my friends.

    We are young, educated professionals who want nothing to do with an Ontario ruled Canadian quagmire.

    Check your facts bgwest, the fastest growing party in Albertan politics aint the NDP.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:53 AM  

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