Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Is Stephen Harper Finally Running Out of Time?
He has been keeping a low profile. Apart from a steady barrage of short statements on the Ukraine crisis he isn't saying much about anything else.
Let alone this devastating poll.
Far from the apparent ascendance of the Conservatives as the new natural governing party, their reign appears to be closing and the recent surprising (not to us we note ) election of majority Liberal governments in Canada’s two largest provinces, may well be a harbinger of the end of the period of conservative political dominance in Canada.
But as Chantal Hébert points out he will not long be able to ignore its implications, for it suggests that the Con regime has a real leadership problem.
Buried in the EKOS analysis — possibly because it is a provocative notion at this juncture — is the tentative proposition that, at this rate, the Conservatives could have a fight on their hands just to hang on to official Opposition in the next election. With a year to go until the campaign, a more topical question is what ails the Conservatives to the point that more and more voters are starting to take their 2015 demise for granted?
And that the Cons are in denial and blaming the wrong leader...
If one is to believe government spin-doctors, the ongoing Liberal recovery is a passing fad, based on the political equivalent of fool’s gold, i.e., Justin Trudeau’s status as a celebrity and its purported fatal attraction on the media.
But the fact is that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair routinely scores as high or higher in the best prime minister category. In the EKOS poll he beat Trudeau 54 per cent to 49 per cent. Harper, by comparison, scores poorly outside the cohort of core Conservative supporters.
Which if true, is also ironically enough bad news for Tom Mulcair and his NDP...
Even as he more than holds his own against Trudeau in the leadership category, Mulcair is so far failing to translate the positive impression he makes on many non-NDP voters into support. And that may be because a plurality of Canadians is shopping for a different, more collegial leadership style and not the more fundamental policy shift they often associate with the New Democrats.
Which as Campbell Clark points out, has the NDP understandably bitter, and many blaming the media for focusing too much of their coverage on Justin Trudeau.
In English Canadian media, there was 69 per cent more coverage of Mr. Trudeau than Mr. Mulcair in the first six months of this year, according to Jean-François Dumas, president of Influence Communications. In Quebec, Mr. Trudeau had a 17-per-cent edge.
The New Democrats see it as bias, even if they understand some of the reasons for it: the family name, the pictures of him a child with his PM father, the good looks and now momentum – editors and producers think people want to see him. One NDP official noted that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, comparing it to the old Hygrade hot dog slogan: “More people eat them because they’re fresher, and they’re fresher because more people eat them.”
But at least the NDP seem to recognize that part of the problem is that Mulcair has spend too much time in the Commons, and not enough time meeting ordinary people, and getting his message out...
Mr. Mulcair can’t compete on the same field. While he won plaudits for his role as Opposition Leader, his strategists realize that’s not doing them much good any more – he has to go to towns in B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario, and be seen outside Commons debate.
That’s not entirely new, of course – Mr. Mulcair has travelled. But the party will emphasize it more, because they have to find novel ways to define him soon, outside of the Ottawa bubble, or he risks slipping out of the conversation.
But while that change of style may help Mulcair, if style is the problem it won't help Stephen Harper...
If leadership style rather than core substance is the issue, the Conservative brain trust has a problem on its hands — for the more it puts a take-no-prisoners Harper in the face of voters, the less they see in him the consensual leader that they increasingly seem to crave.
Not if Canadians are signalling that they have just had enough of him, that he's yesterday's leader, And that they now not only can imagine a Canada without him, they actively desire it.
The more obvious question now isn’t whether the Conservatives can repeat its stunning majority triumph of 2011; it may be whether it can even hold onto opposition leader status.
Of course it's just a poll, and the Cons still have a lot of things going for them like a healthy war chest.
But as Warren Kinsella points out if the poll is signalling a real trend, it probably is time the Cons started to panic.
But here’s the thing, and it’s a good place to conclude: what if the polls are right? What if the Conservative trend line is all down, not up? What if the stuff the Con war room used against Messrs. Martin, Dion and Ignatieff just doesn’t work on Trudeau? What about that?
Sometimes, in politics, things truly are as simple as they seem. And that means this: The Conservative Party of Canada, and Stephen Harper, are going to lose. Badly.
And of course, you know what I believe.
When you're hugely unpopular, and you've been around for too long.
Sooner or later.
Down the memory hole you go.....
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