Campaign 2008 -- An Overview

Originally posted from August 25, 2008


It’s been an… interesting campaign, to say the least. But then, I thought it would be.

The 2006 election campaign was remarkable both for how badly the Liberals campaigned and how disciplined the Conservatives proved to be. When Paul Martin and his advisers were ousted from the Liberal leadership, I figured that the next race would be a lot tighter, and it was. After all, in 2006, the Conservatives were confronted with the worst Liberal campaign in living memory but still could only manage a minority. On the other hand, with the Conservatives now having a record to run on, there was no way that Liberal fearmongering was going to work.


As a result, the Conservatives and the Liberals had to work a lot harder to open up a lead against the other, and that was far too much of an opportunity for negative campaigning that the parties could resist. Liberal fearmongering might not be as effective now as it was in 2006 or 2004, but there is a theory among political pundits that if you say something often and loudly enough, it will stick. And the Liberal admakers seemed to learn their lessons from 2004 — unfortunately not about not going negative, but rather about how to make their negative ads less hokey. Some of the commercials were downright vicious and I’m surprised that nobody got sued. Of course, perhaps it was because the Conservatives responded in kind. And between the chatter, nobody took much notice of the NDP.

Election day is tomorrow and I’m feeling… uneasy. There’s something in the air that wasn’t there the last time around. I’ve heard it spoken in conversations at my local Tim Horton’s and my local Starbucks: the voters are mad. Actually, the anger isn’t so unusual; what’s different is the sense I have that people want to do something about it, even if they don’t know what that something is. I’ve seen voters this angry before, but I’ve never seen them this engaged. I hear, again and again, “throw the bastards out!” When somebody pointed out that we were in a minority government and which bastards should we throw out, the enthusiastic response was “all of ‘em! Screw ‘em!”

Has there ever been an election where opinion polls pointed to a 40% undecided rate on the day before the ballots are cast? More than the virtual tie that exists between the Liberals and Conservatives, this gives me the sense that anything can happen, and I’m a little worried about what that might be.

I expect we’ll all be sitting up late at night viewing the election results. It may be quite a hangover on Wednesday. But only time will tell.

(Update): This opinion poll says what I’ve been saying. And if the numbers bear out on election day, the Conservatives will shatter all records for being the least popular, most popular party in an election.

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