Musings —02.20.2015 08:24 AM—
It’s a Kerouac line, adapted for the circumstances. Fits.
Lately, I have been peering at this snapshot taken by Eric Grenier, like someone does when they are lost, and they are squinting at a map at the side of the road. Night falling, apprehension rising.
No single poll is reliable anymore. They get it wrong, a lot. This graph is probably different, however, because it is a rendering of a lot of polls, aggregated. It’s therefore harder to dismiss. Thus, I gaze at it, trying to unlock its mysteries.
You can divine its meaning as well as I can. You don’t have to be an expert. Among other things, it tells us:
- Trudeau has dropped, but not dramatically;
- Harper has risen, and inexorably; and
- Mulcair isn’t Jack Layton.
That’s pretty simplistic, but so is politics. Harper’s wiggly line is good, Mulcair’s is bad, and Trudeau’s is so-so. Ipso facto, the campaign matters.
That’s a cliché, but it’s also true. That’s why Liberals – increasingly nervous about assorted things – have lately taken to repeating the mantra that the campaign matters, and the pre-season doesn’t. (Maybe.)
To illustrate their point, they cite 1993. Kim Campbell was the most popular Prime Minister in the history of polling, and Jean Chretien was being measured for a political pine box. The campaign came, and everything changed. (True.)
There’s a debate raging about this over on my Facebook page this morning. In response to one commenter making the 1993-2015 comparison, an edited response from another commenter:
- Kim Campbell was untested, Stephen Harper is not;
- Jean Chretien had John Rae et al., Justin Trudeau has the folks who cooked up both Eve Adams and Sudbury;
- The issues mix favours Harper (security/economy) in a way it never favoured Campbell (jobs/change);
- The aggregate polling trend is presently slow and steady CPC upward growth, and slow and steady LPC erosion;
- Trudeau is decidedly not Chretien.
And that last one is the big one, as we attempt to divine the meaning of Grenier’s squiggles on a computer screen: if you were writing a book, a la Kerouac, and you were looking for someone to play Jean Chretien (Kerouac and Chretien were distantly related, by the way), who would you pick?
Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper?