Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 4 in Review: Here Come the Socialists!

Previously: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Last week, I said the election was still searching for a storyline - with the Bloc imploding and Quebec turning orange, it seems we finally have one.

Over the last 7 days we've been reminded that a week is a long time in politics. A dull campaign has suddenly sprung alive, and who knows what's in store over the final 8 days?

Poll Soup: It's been a quiet weekend for polls, with only Nanos releasing new numbers: CPC 39%, Lib 26%, NDP 23%. We did however, get a flurry of polls on Thursday, started off by the CROP shocker, which showed the NDP leading in Quebec. Ekos has the Tories up by 10, with the Liberals and NDP in a dead heat for second. And Ipsos...well...if you're a Liberal, the less said about that poll, the better.

Election Prediction Project: CPC 119, Lib 61, NDP 29, Bloc 38, Too close 61

Gaffe Pool: The campaigns have been playing surprisingly error-free ball this election: Harper 16, Ignatieff 2, Layton 0, Duceppe 3.

Ad watch: It's a Jack Attack! The Tories and Liberals both launch attack ads on Layton, who responds with this feel good gem. And the Conservatives launch this one, scaring voters about a GST hike which nobody paying even the remotest amount of attention to politics believes is a remote possibility.

One-on-One: All three leaders sit down (or stand up) with Peter Mansbridge.

Blog Post of the Week: James Bow rants about the state of politics.

In Case you Missed it: Layton's Free Ride

Liberal Week in Review

Battle Cry: "Beware of the NDP! NDP Premiers have ruined Canada. We should know - they're all running for us."

The week that was: If you dissect individual campaign events, individual policies, individual ads, or individual speeches, it actually hasn't been a bad campaign for the Liberals outside of the debates. But for whatever reason, Ignatieff hasn't caught on, and the Liberals haven't been able to get that illusive thing known as "momentum".

So with the Liberals down in the polls, they've done their best to rise up on Easter Sunday, and start generating some of that Mo. At noon today, they aired a half hour infomercial with Michael Ignatieff. I watched it and I liked it but, then again, Michael already has my vote, and Vince talked me into buying both a Slap Chop and a ShamWow, so I'm a sucker for these sorts of things.

For Quebecers, they got a chance to see Ignatieff on Tout Le Monde en Parle tonight, and the early reviews have been quite positive.

Playing for second isn't where the Liberals wanted to be at this point in the campaign, but Ignatieff still sounds confident and the campaign hasn't looked desperate, or even fazed, by any of this. Which is good, because there's a lot riding on the next 8 days.

Battle Cry: "Canada Good! Taxes Bad! Canada Good! Taxes Bad!"

The week that was: Is there even a point in doing a week in review for the Tories? Every week is the same. A few minor controversies, some rogue candidates, some accusations about Harper refusing to take questions...but, a tightly scripted and unwavering message: "Ignatieff will raise taxes", "Ignatieff wants a coalition", "we need a stable majority government".

Jack Layton rises in the polls? Harper just adds his name to the stump speech, and re cuts the coalition commercial. Nothing changes.

Which gives you a pretty good idea of why Harper is winning.

NDP Week in Review

Battle Cry: "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? "

The week that was: The NDP surged ahead on International Reefer Day, and haven't looked back, pulling into first place in Quebec, and drawing even with the Liberals nationally.

The NDP are now blessed with the all important "momentum" that all campaigns strive for, but few capture. It lets Jack go into Duceppe's riding. It lets him air positive commercials. He can shrug off any attacks against him as "desperation" without directly responding to them. The newscasts talk about Layton "surging", and the newspapers all show more flattering pictures.

It remains to be seen if Layton will be able to ride the wave of momentum to election day, or if he'll actually have to answer tough questions about his candyland platform. On political shows this weekend, on 8 separate occasions I heard pundits say that the NDP platform would now be put under greater scrutiny, but I did not once see it actually being put under scrutiny.

For Jack, the week ahead will decide if he becomes a God to future generations of NDP partisans, or if 2011 will be looked back upon the same way 1988 was - as a missed opportunity to kill the Liberal Party.

Battle Cry: "Merde."

The week that was: A week ago, most assumed the Bloc was heading for their usual 40 to 50 seats. Now? Complete panic has set in, with the NDP surging ahead of them in the polls, and Duceppe left with no option but to rally the hardcore separatists to avoid a complete wipe out.

So what went wrong?

As I said in my french debate recap, Duceppe has sounded like an angry man without a reason to be angry all campaign. Simply put, the Bloc has long since lost its raison d'etre.

Until now, they've survived by latching on to hot button issues. They've survived on Duceppe's popularity. They've survived due to the struggles of the federalist parties.

At various times in recent years, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper, and Michael Ignatieff all came close to knocking them out - now, Layton has them on the ropes and we'll know in a week if he succeeds where the others failed.


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