Saturday, December 24, 2005

Shut up, and watch your poll numbers increase 

Here's the Politics Canada poll chart again:

And isn't it interesting -- the lates story is that the Tory campaign is failing to gain traction with voters:
Stephen Harper's policy-heavy election campaign is no better at capturing voters' imaginations than the Liberal effort, according to a new poll that also finds less gloom about the direction of the country than when the election was called . . . Allan Gregg, chairman of The Strategic Counsel, said a strategy of not focusing on criticism of the Liberals may be contributing to the Tories stall. "[The Conservatives] have to get that general protest sentiment back up there," Mr. Gregg said. "The cornerstone of any opposition party is unhappiness with the status quo. It's the oldest cliché in the book, but it's true. Governments defeat themselves."
Mr. Gregg said the Liberals may have found their game simply by fighting back every time the Tories lay out a policy proposal. "They're not doing much on the initiative front, but they're very effective in their counter-punching," he said.
The results appear to run against the grain of some commentators who have criticized the Liberals for running a relatively quiet campaign focused on their record rather than announcing new policy ideas. The Tory campaign has announced almost daily policy prescriptions, while the Liberals have criticized them for being too ideological.
This confirms my own thinking -- which I didn't blog about because I didn't think I could possibly be right -- that Martin was getting better traction NOT making policy announcements than Harper was getting by making them.
The problem for Martin with just about any policy announcement, of course, is that the response would be -- well, why didn't you do this already? Harper is not so constrained -- but, on the other hand, when a political party announces armfuls of goodies day after day after day, eventually people start to wonder whether anyone has added it up and whose money will be paying for it.
And Harper's latest one, the Arctic sovereignty thing, is just stupid -- he's trying to counter Martin's winning anti-Bush strategy with a little flag-waving of his own, but Canadians know we have better things to do with billions of dollars than harass a few US submarines.
Harper's deeper problem, however, is that he simply cannot describe how he could manage a minority government.
Canadians aren't stupid -- we know reality. We know that if the Bloc maintains their vote in Quebec, then they will prevent either the Conservatives or the Liberals from achieving a majority government. We know that to form a government, either Harper or Martin would have to ally with either the NDP or the Bloc. We don't want the Bloc to get any stronger than it already is, so we would prefer that they NOT be the deal-breaker party.
We know that Martin would ally with the NDP. And we're OK with that. But we don't know what Harper would do.
No wonder the poll numbers are dropping -- all those policy announcements, yet he hasn't announced the one thing that Canadians would want to know.

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