Canadian Politics. It's not so boring.

December 25, 2005

Tory campaign failing to gain traction with voters

A mid-campaign poll for The Globe and Mail-CTV News shows that Canadians actually like the Liberal campaign marginally better than the one run by the Conservatives, despite positive reviews of the Tory effort as mistake-free and heavy on ideas.
I'm surprised the Tories didn't see this coming but then again, nobody seems to pay much attention to the NDP and they're the party that usually runs positive campaigns with lots of ideas. Last federal election I was working on the local NDP campaign, we had around 14-15 issue sheets we passed out from the federal office. We did well locally at 19% of the vote (that's 3.5% more than the national numbers) but still came in at third place. The Conservative candidate had essentially NO platform and came in second around 30% (I don't recall the exact number).

A positive campaign with lots of policy isn't a bad thing but alone it won't win an election. That's because of the same reason that negative advertising works. During an election, you need to set your candidate and party as being different from you opponents. Policy can help with this but only to a certain extent because you can't really make your specific policy plausible without successfully criticizing the other guy's different policy.

Being positive helps the governing party since it's to their advantage to make everything seem OK. Nobody wants to get rid of an incumbent MP who has been doing alright. For the opposition it's better to emphasize what's wrong as a result of the governing party and just be positive about what you'd change to make it OK again. The Globe article says pretty much the same thing:
"[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."
Of course, the real groundwar will be in the new year. Until then, Merry Christmas to everyone!


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