Election Day: 9 March 2009?

New polls show huge Tory gains:
Ipsos CPC 46, LPC 23, NDP 13, BQ 9, GPC 8
Ekos CPC 44, LPC 24, NDP 15, BQ 9, GPC 8
— Bourque Newswatch

So here we are, more or less quietly reposing after Parliament has been prorogued (aside from the Coalition rally in Vancouver tonight, where a tweet decrying the fact that “Conservative staffers are here” was sent out, as though the secret police were listening to the insurrection, and “Big Brother” Stéphane Dion addressed the crowd via video). Yet into the middle of this calm comes two of the national polling firms, showing that the events of the past few days have actually accrued to the Conservatives’ benefit — and significantly so, for 44% is generally considered to be “majority territory”.

Andrew Coyne, in his usual complete way, has detailed some other aspects of these readings of the public mood:

Ipsos numbers show, further, that 60% of the public opposes the coalition, 62% are “angry” with it for trying to take power, while 68% support the Governor General’s decision. The Grits can read the numbers as well as I can. There is no way they will return to this well.

When one looks at the sheer amount of time given to the coalition, and the general presumptions that Stephen Harper shot himself in the foot permanently that have coloured newscasts, opinion pieces and punditry in the media, and that it was inevitable that the coalition would topple the Government on the House’s return, you do have to wonder how much of these numbers is your average Canadian saying “go away, leave me alone: if I have to vote in a majority to get you to stop, then I will”.

I say this because of the reaction today to all this within my own family. Both my wife and my daughter wash their hands of the whole process. “I might vote once more simply to get this to end” was my daughter’s view — and she is anything but a fan of the Conservatives or the Prime Minister. But, like an ongoing thunderstorm, there comes a point where “enough!” kicks in.

One has a greater appreciation of Bob Rae’s foaming at the mouth now. These numbers say clearly “that was your chance”.

In any event, I do expect the confidence motions to topple the Government. At that point I expect the Prime Minister to ask for a writ of election — and if the Conservatives make moves to be conciliatory, I daresay he’ll get it.

The Monday following a minimum length campaign after that fall would be March 9.

This time, I expect Canadians to vote in enough Conservative MPs to put an end to instability. Most of these will probably come in Western Canada, affecting a few Liberal seats and a number of NDP ones. Possibly the rest in Ontario, in the 905 and possibly one in the 416. These will make up for any losses in Québec.

The most interesting variable will be if the Liberals and NDP do not run candidates against each other but divide up the ridings. I don’t see this happening — look at the uproar of running in only 307 ridings last time within Liberal circles — but it is a possibility. Even so, 44%+ is a solid lead.


10 responses to “Election Day: 9 March 2009?

  1. bluegreenblogger

    March 9 election? I doubt it. It’s just too damn soon. If the coalition agreement holds together that long, then the coalition probably ought to be given a kick at the can. 44% is a solid lead? No, it’s a solid number. To interpret it as a resounding lead would duplicate the error made prior to the last election. I don’t lend much credence to double digit bounces, especially in such a volatile situation. The risk of holding an election with a very similar hung result would be pretty large.
    Nonetheless, there are a few ponderables that could have a big impact on next years election. Quebecois have had a big helping of being outsiders this week. If the Liberals lose their baggage, (Dion), then there’s every chance of a major Liberal comeback in Quebec.
    There are many things that could change between now and the end of January. What if Harper did grow a conscience ( Or the CPC lived up to a proud Tory tradition of outing their knives.), and resign? A late summer election with fresh Liberal, and CPC leaders would be refreshing, and would really clear the air.
    Actually, I think that scenario would be the best thing that could happen for Canada. I cannot believe that the next CPC leader would continue to fan the flames as vigorously. The CPC will only ever fluke into a majority if they cannot tone it down. Today, they run the risk of becoming reform Lite, and hence unelectable to moderates, and small c conservatives.
    It’s time for a few years of bland, centrist government. It’s hard to believe, but I really miss those years of Chretiens second mandate. It was a good time for the country, no?

  2. bluegreenblogger

    P.S. I live in the one 416 riding, (Iggy’s home turf), that some CPC big talkers thought could go Conservative. I know his local machine, and there is absolutely no hope of any Conservative 416 ridings. That 44% you mentioned, sure as hell didn’t happen in Toronto. 905’s another beast, and the marginal ones would go Conservative if there were a March Election.

  3. I think Harper should have to stand in review by the CPC — he damn near threw it all away this week and isn’t out of the woods yet.

    New leaders all around? That would change the game. It would also be good.

    But my point is that if we come back and the Government is summarily toppled, asking for a writ will probably be granted, as it shows the Opposition was unwilling to even consider what was put in front of them. That, in turn, on a standard campaign, would make election day March 9. That’s all.

    As for taking Etobicoke-Lakeshore, that was never going to be in the cards. If I was looking for a 416 riding to go Conservative it would be next to a 905 riding already/doing the same. Candidates that are well-grounded in the riding exist on the borders near the lake.

    Here in Vancouver, Dosanjh might have trouble (he barely squeaked home in the recount) in Vancouver South, and a real swing make drop Vancouver Quadra. Vancouver Kingsway and Vancouver Centre, like Vancouver East, would be far more likely to go NDP if not Liberal (or Liberal if not NDP).

    The other thing I’ll say is that I think Rae has cooked his chances at the leadership. It will be Ignatieff.

  4. bluegreenblogger

    I think that Liberal fortunes anywhere in coastal BC, through Vancouver will be very closely, and inversely related to the GPC’s fortunes. I am less certain about the nature of CPC support in these ridings. I guess I should look at older reform/alliance outcomes to get a flavour. (polls would be nicer, but I don’t really have access) Elizabeth May has failed to balance the GPC’s growth the way we did it ‘in the old days’. Had we continued to focus on former PC’s, as well as Liberals, and scooped more than just the rump of Orchard’s people, then the GPC growth would have continued to have a fairly neutral impact. Alas, we have a temporary drift leftward, at least in the electorates eyes.
    I agree that Rae is cooked. According to local Tories, they, (privately, so no names), are really nervous about Ignatieff. The CPC, if it has any sense, will be trying everything to make your’ March election scenario come true. It would still be far healthier for them long term to swap for a new leader, and move back to the centre. But for the Harper himself, why not put it all on black, and spin the wheel?

  5. 53% in English Canada would vote Conservative. Based on a range of independent polls, the Conservatives’ polling numbers now range from 44-46%. An election, therefore, cannot come soon enough. Then again, it would give the coalition even more time to make asses of themselves. By the time we head to the polls, the Liberals’ numbers, dropping fast by the way, will be in the single digits.

  6. bluegreenblogger

    An election could certainly come too soon. Be careful for what you wish. First off, what happens to voting intentions if there is a spurious election? These poll numbers are too volatile to risk everything on. On top of which, gaining total power is not a worthy objective in this environment. Single digits? Don’t be silly. Wishful thinking is not a useful substitute for reasoned analysis. The Liberals plumbed the depths in the last election. There are still plenty of places where the Liberals could run a poodle and still win a plurality.

  7. Please note, BlueGreenBlogger, that I never said I wanted an election, just that I expected it.

  8. I will say, in general, that as this week has unfolded I think more damage has been done to the Liberals than anyone else this week. Harper may have roasted himself to a crisp, but his party remains in good shape. The NDP are probably a wash. The BQ picked up from the coalition attempt.

    Were the Liberals paying for my advice (they’re not; they don’t even pay attention to me) I’d say don’t come back on January 26 without a new, permanent leader.

    Were the Conservatives paying for my advice (they’re not; I don’t shill the party line so I’m not on their radar either) I’d say announce a leadership review before coming back — execute it would be even better. Harper needs to face the music for risking the party’s position.

    Were the NDP listening to me (they’re not either) I’d say this had been a real coup for them, but if they use it to put forward the same-old, same-old as before they will not only lose their opportunities, they will actually lose seats. You want to become the other party in a basically two party (BQ excluded) setup? Occupy all of Bob Rae’s position and maybe a little further.

    As for the BQ, they don’t need advice. But I’ll give them some anyway: if your goal is to ultimately lead Québec to become a nation-state (rather than just une nation dans le Canada), be prepared to be called “Separatists”. After all, it’s the right word to describe your project, and hardly an insult to speak the truth.

    Finally, the Greens: instead of dancing at the Senate door, the Greens should have been all over the place this past week showing that they mattered — not in the coalition and with alternatives to put on the table. But Ms. May only concerned herself with her own welfare and once again abandoned her party. So get rid of her and get a real leader who will build the Green Party.

  9. bluegreenblogger

    I think that perhaps all of the above should be paying for your’ advice! As far as the Greens go, I have an advantage over you, I’ve been intimately involved with organizing for years, and have access to data, and the ‘players’ therein.


    I caused a lot of consternation when I suppoted Elizabeth May for the leadership. In all honesty, I locked down support for her that turned the leadership camapign into a rout. Perhaps it was a mistake, because she ignored my advice to share power with those experienced organizers who supported David Chernushenko. (Including David). My arguments are still valid. The GPC got small amounts of positive press for their good policy, but it was really dispiriting to fight elections without any effective media presence. Many media outlets really love Elizabeth, and the GPC is guaranteed an Air War with her as a leader. We were then building a respectable ground organization, and she would have complimented it admirably. The problem is that she pissed off the ground war team, and we swapped an organization for a media presence. She isn’t stupid though, and now that she’s actually been through an election, she might still fix the organizational problems.

  10. Thank you for that vote of confidence!

    I agree wholeheartedly that Ms. May is good for the Green “air war”. But elections are won on the ground once the air war makes it possible. Strong organization is essential.

    Let us hope she either listens to this and acts upon it, or stands aside for someone who will put the package together.

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