It looks like my prediction of AdScam not benefitting the Conservatives as much as Conservative supporters would like is bearing fruit. The Liberals may be out of the lead, but despite the “explosive” revelations, the Conservatives remain mired at around 30-33%.
For point of reference, that’s still 4-7% shy of the combined vote of the PCs and the Alliance in the 2000 election. It’s below even the lowest level of popular support ever won by a party that went on to form the government in an election (35.9% by Clark’s Tories in 1979).
I’m not surprised, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not amazed. For this past year, Paul Martin and his Liberals have done the electoral equivalent of banging themselves on the head with a ballpeen hammer. Repeatedly. They should be bloody messes on the floor, by now, but they’re still in contention — a fact that says as much about the public’s viewpoint of the Conservatives as it does the Liberals.
Clearly, voters are sick of the Liberals. Over and above the Gomery Inquiry revelations, the budget overrun of the Gun Registry and Paul Martin’s lacklustre leadership, the Liberals’ worst enemy is simply this: Time. They’ve been in power for about twelve years. In the history of Canada, only three governments have lasted longer at the federal level, and not much longer than that, and Canadians sense this. It’s time to change the government. It’s long overdue. But who to change it to? Who?
Clearly, most voters do not like the Conservatives enough to embrace this obvious alternative. If “none of the above” were placed on the national ballot, that option would sweep. But it isn’t on the ballot, and so the logjam continues. What’s it going to take to break it? I’ve already suggested the Greens, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way that movement might happen.
Here’s an idea: what if the Liberals fell far enough, to say, around 25%, and the NDP rose to meet them? What would the psychological impact of the NDP being in second place do to the dynamic of this four-way schmozz? A lot of people not voting for the Conservatives have written off the NDP because it appears to be mired in third place. If we got evidence that the NDP had traction, might there be more movement?
Either from voters deserting the Liberals to go to a viable NDP, or voters heading to the Conservatives to head off that very possibility?
(Cue a political cartoon of Layton and Martin, dressed up as scarecrows, pointing at each other and shouting “You’re scary!”)