09.09.2015 07:48 AM

KCCCC Day 38: is the Conservative campaign in trouble?

  • The popular consensus seems to be the CPC is doing badly. Candidate controversies, refugee backlash, dropping to third place, and now unhelpful stories like this. It is not a particularly happy time for Conservatives.
  • Could they actually be losing? It almost seems surreal, doesn’t it? For the past decade, Harper and his team have absolutely dominated the political landscape. They have always seemed to be the ones who were most strategic and savvy. They have always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else. Some days, it felt like they were going to be in power forever, didn’t it?
  • But a handful of polls don’t necessarily lie. Something is pulling down their campaign, gradually but undeniably.  You can feel it.
  • It isn’t just the refugee crisis or the candidate stuff. In an era of perpetual war, we will always have refugee crises (the Syrian one, which many folks have just noticed, has been going on for half a decade). And in the era of social media, we will always have political aspirants saying and doing stupid things – in every political party.
  • So what is it? Simple: when you’ve been there a decade, voters start looking around for an alternative. In any democracy, they feel that 10 years is enough time to be running things. Voters start talking about the need for change, because they feel change is good. 
  • There are exceptions to that rule, of course. There is the most recent win by the Ontario Liberals. The one that Christy Clark won. There is the final win by Justin Trudeau’s father. Those majority victories, and others,  defied the 10 year “rule.”
  • But. But, were those situations where Grits actually won? Or, as some say, were they more accurately occasions where the Tories, per the clichesnatched defeat from the jaws of victory?
  • Bottom line: Whatever you may think of him, you have to agree that Stephen Harper is no Joe Clark or Tim Hudak. And that, if campaign experience, campaign money, and campaign discipline count – and they do – only a fool would start crowing (as some of my commenters are now doing) that the Cons are dead.
  • They ain’t dead yet. Because – as everyone agrees – the real campaign is just starting.


  1. M5slib says:

    Put simply, their numbers are where the libs were a few weeks ago. That changed. This can too.

    • Nicole says:

      Someone from the inside isn’t happy though because leaking a story to Bob Fife about potentially turfing Jenni Byrne means that not everyone is on the same page inside that CPC campaign. Leaks like that don’t happen if a campaign is running smoothly.

      • cynical says:

        Another indication that it is possible to be a Conservative and a sensible human being. I am told this. There are examples in my immediate circle. But there is little evidence in the public face of the CPC.

        • Ted H says:

          Well there are nice people who are Conservatives, I know some of them, but I find it hard to assess them as sensible because the basic tenets of conservative philosophy itself are not sensible. At it’s heart it is simply the aristocracy trying to get back the power it lost when democracy became prevalent, it’s the old British Tories. There is no real aristocracy in Canada of course, but there is an aristocracy of money, and that is the constituency behind conservatism. There are a majority of Conservative supporters who are not part of the moneyed aristocracy and they vote on the basis of values, patriotism, religion, what they think is common sense, what they think is good government, fear of their distorted view of socialism, fear of change, fear of foreigners and anything else other than the real truth that the moneyed Conservatives can dupe them into believing. It is not just team blue vs team red or team orange, it is conservative political philosophy itself that is fatally flawed.

          • davie says:

            I know a fellow who is both Conservative and nice. He lives just a few blocks from here.

            (Well…I don’t really know him. I heard about him.)

          • KBab says:

            Ted H, nice insight.

            It is ironic that Harper ran from Bishop Strachan’s Trinity College then formed a weird kind of family compact of his own; and in this he achieved the privilege of anti-privilege.

  2. Christian says:

    If I’m not mistaken this is the first election the Cons have had without Doug Finley in either a director or advisory role. I’m thinking they are missing him now and it shows.

  3. DougM says:

    “They ain’t dead yet. Because – as everyone agrees – the real campaign is just starting.”

    Exactly, let’s see where they are in 3 weeks. Then we’ll have a more accurate indication of where they’re headed. After all, the campaign just started on Tuesday.

  4. Mitch says:

    Harper’s reputation as a political genius has always been exaggerated. Who has he beaten?

    1. Paul Martin. A scandal weakened government that had been in power for more than a decade. Not that impressive.
    2. Dion. Dion is an intelligent man but his english skills were never good enough to be Prime Minister.
    3. Ignatieff. Ignatieff was also a smart man but he had no skill or experience as a politician.

    It is easy to look like a giant when you are surrounded by midgets.

    This time around he is facing 2 impressive opponents leading 2 parties that are equipped to fight a national campaign. And he is losing.

  5. Matt says:

    Pollsters have the polls with there ever shrinking sample sizes, (today’s Ipsos release (NDP 34, Libs 30, CPC 29) had a sample size of just 949. Nanos daily roling poll has just 400) wildly different numbers, especially on the provincial numbers. Pundits all have their opinions, as do the partisans here.

    The reality however is it’s ALL SPECULATION. Nobody has a freakin’ clue how this is going to end.

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      I am beginning to think that this is going to be going on long after October 19th if something doesn`t shake out this log jam. Sigh.

      • Warren says:


        The focus isn’t on this election. It should be on the one that comes very soon after.

        • Drew says:

          With a new CPC leader.
          Steve Harper should have left the building 2 years ago.
          Dalton did it right.
          Then Wynne beat the odds (thank you Tim).

        • davie says:

          …soon after?

          Oh, man…I think I’ll get Netflix.

        • Marc says:

          This. I’m not convinced they’re done but the Conservatives will roar back to life in the next election. The NDP could crumble if they don’t have substantial gains during this one.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Along those lines, Harper said he won’t be PM with one seat less than an opposition party. He didn’t say he wouldn’t be party leader or MP. Food for thought. LOL.

  6. Matt says:

    But a handful of polls don’t necessarily lie. Something is pulling down their campaign, gradually but undeniably.  You can feel it.

    But the respondents to the polls might lie.

    The NDP and Lib numbers in several successive polls have been stable. Only the CPC numbers are fluctuating. Since Friday:

    EKOS – CPC in second @ 29.5 just 0.7 behind the NDP.

    Nanos – CPC in third at 25.9 almost 7 behind the Libs now in first according to today’s Nanos Daily rolling poll (400 asked every night)

    Ipsos newest released today CPC in third @ 29

    • MoeL says:

      Each evening a new group of 400 eligible voters are interviewed. The daily tracking figures are based on a three day rolling sample comprised of 1,200 interviews. To update the tracking a new day of interviewing is added and the oldest day dropped. The margin of error for a survey of 1,200 respondents is ±2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

      • Matt says:

        Sure, I understand that.

        But polling is a snapshot of what is a specific time.

        Mixing fresh data with data two days old? How reliable is that?

        • Scott says:

          Just wait till the CBC interview with Trudeau percolates a bit. JT’s numbers gonna climb even higher.

          • Matt says:

            You mean the interviw last night where he stuck to talking points, gave no information on how to pay for all his promises, repeatedly gave the impression he can’t make a decision on his own – Shocking Mansbridge called him out on that – and Trudeau dindn’t know that if nobody wins a majority, then the incumbent, Harper, gets first shot at forming government even if the CPC don’t win the most seats?

          • Matt says:


            JT: One of the first things we do, that I’ve committed to –

            PM: NO, THE FIRST THING.

            JT: Call together the premiers, talk about climate change, get to, get to Paris at the end of November with a plan towards reducing our emissions in responsible ways, at the same time as we talk with the Premiers about intra¬provincial trade barriers, about the infrastructure projects they need. We’re going to roll out about five billion dollars more in infrastructure in that first budget that we’re going to be announcing. We have to work with the provinces and the municipalities to figure out where that money can be spent.

          • MoeL says:

            Agree. I was quite impressed. Last night’s Nanos survey (mostly taken before the interview aired I presume) now has the Libs in 1st. The next few days results should be interesting.

          • Marc says:

            Matt the details don’t matter to voters. What matters is the message, how it is delivered and how it makes them feel about themselves. On those points, Trudeau did a fine job.

        • reader says:

          All major polls are done over a period of days. Latest IPSOS based on data from Sept 4 through 8th, or 4-5 days. EKOS weekly releases are typically over 6 days.

        • MoeL says:

          The Ipsos poll (like most polls) was taken over a five day period. The Nanos poll covers three days rolling. What’s the difference? Very few poll samples are taken in one day.

        • doconnor says:

          Virtually all polls are taken across several days. The CBC poll tracker shows the days each poll is taken.

          There have now been 6 polls in the row placing the Conservatives in third. Welcome to NDPland.

        • Bluegreenblogger says:

          The methodology is fine. Consecutive days with consistent questions does what it is intended to do.

      • Jim Walsh says:

        The reported “margins of error” in reported polls is nonsense. It’s only the error if your sample is truly random. I’ve never been convinced that a combination of people who answer land-line and cell-phone calls from people they don’t know, and people who answer spam or click on ads is statistically representative of much of anything. Best case, the error is likely at least twice what they state, is my feeling. Then again, they usually bury the fact that there is any error and all, and report changes of 1% as a “swing”.

  7. Bill Templeman says:

    What I find really interesting is how strongly some commenters here say things like, “You can just feel it!” re the recent drop Conservative drop in the polls. Let’s name that one: Projected Intuition (assuming everyone in your environment thinks the way you do). Most of us don’t manage our investment portfolios based on our intuition. So why base our political thinking on intuition? btw, polls are not based only on intuition (we hope). I respect those who choose not to participate in polls because they think polls are a distortion of democracy.

    • Bluegreenblogger says:

      As an Economist, I have to quibble with your contention that most people do not manage their investments by intuition. The fact is that a great many people DO manage their investments by ‘intuition’. There have been numerous economists careers built on trying to somehow model the decision making process, with ‘rational expectations’ being demonstrably NOT the case. In fact, I would bet that when social sciences catch up, and economic decision making is better understood, electoral decisions will be subject to the same behaviours. So, in short, when a LOT of people tell you something ineffable is in the air, do not scoff, it is a thing.

  8. Mark says:

    One gets the sense that the Conservative campaign is in the doldrums right now, and looking at the approaching storm with certain kind of despondency and lack of will. But what is strange is that, apart from outside events, it is a feeling that has been almost encouraged by Harper and the campaign: Harper talking about how he’s “not perfect”; the CPC youtube ad with people also talking about how he’s not perfect, but what are you going to do; Harper talking about hoping to form the next government, but if not, *shrug*…

    It’s like they’re trying to position him as some kind of underdog. Or perhaps as a possum, who, faking death, is ignored by the other two animals that then set off to savage each other. I think there is something to that, where the Cons campaign would actually prefer more focus on Mulcair and Trudeau, because they believe that given enough Media “rope” they will inevitably hang themselves. Risky business counting on the other guys to do what you want, though.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      It’s the sweater man, it’s the guy who likes and plays Beatles, it’s Tim Horton’s, it’s the lover of hockey.

      The full out Everyman persona is out. He is flawed. He has made mistakes. But he is like you, not like that guy (Justin) who wears a watch that costs as much a your car (or a year in university away from home).

      Will it work? Who knows. But I can see the gang up on Trudeau at the first debate.

    • Matt says:

      Well remember about two weeks before E-Day 2011 Conservative insiders began “leaking” info to the media they ran the numbers and they couldn’t see any way the CPC could get a majority. Then the CPC got a majority.

      Harper “finally admitting there is a real possibility of an NDP or Liberal government” (Robert Fife’s description) may be the same type of subliminal messaging like 2011.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        You are right Matt, the games played by both CONS and Libs (there will be troops in the streets – it would be hilarious if the CONS brought that back as an attack ad on the Libs) in previous elections reveals that some work and some don’t, and some we will never know if they worked or not.

        However, you have to admit that the only folks in jail or charged from the previous election for crossing legal bounds were CONS, and I really don’t expect less illegal activity from the CONS in their desperation this time around.

      • Marc says:

        Exactly. I think they’d rather be in this position than in the position the NDP is in right now.

  9. Dan Crowe says:

    It’s not only fatigue after 10 years with the sane party. It’s much more than that. Canadians have become more divided under the Harper regime, more cynical. Our national identity has taken a turn away from humility and kindness towards something more fearful and hateful, like a reflection of our Republican neighbours to the south. The cpc consistently embraces the machiavellian principle that the end justifies the means regardless of how cynical those means may be. Consider the following:
    – Our net debt: $1.2T, debt added by cpc deficits:171B, annual interest on debt:29B
    – cpc was twice in contempt of parliament, and twice prorogued
    – cpc lacks accountability: it is called the PMO because it’s the office of the “Prime Minister”
    – cpc has been arrogant towards our allies on myriad foreign fronts and has thus diminished Canada’s international reputation and the importance of the role we have had the potential and privilege to assume
    – cpc has been careless with our environment
    – cpc has been careless with our missing aboriginal women and our first nation cousins
    – cpc has been careless with foreign refugees
    – cpc has been alienating our scientific community
    – cpc has been alienating jurists and our courts
    Under the cpc, Canada is no longer a role model for the world nor an exemplary democracy, we have become, instead, a dismal mess. The fact that the cpc still commands support from 26% of the polled electorate is a sad reflection of the malady infecting our nation.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Yes, yes, these are the usual Liberal and NDP talking points. Perhaps if these parties hadn’t been crying wolf with them for the past two decades, they might resonate. As it is, there’s no need for the overblown histrionics about how the Conservativs are eeeeevill and destroying Canada. I think standard voter fatigue with a government that has grown too complacent and corrupt more than explains the current dip in Conservative numbers.

  10. BlueGritr says:

    This is Justin’s election to lose. He’s unveiled a solid platform; leading a moderate party. Preaching hope and goodness (right out of the Chretien ‘93 playbook). Cons are on their heels and doubt they have the capacity to turn things around.

    • fan590 says:

      Either a minority this year or a majority in 2. JT has impressed a lot of people who don’t normally care about politics. Especially when compared to the others in the first debate.

      It’s like “That’s the guy they say isn’t ready? Over these other old guys and this nice woman who runs a fringe party!?”

  11. harvey Bushell says:

    The Con campaign is moribund and stuck in a quagmire l̶a̶r̶g̶e̶l̶y̶ entirely of their own making. Frankly I don’t see things significantly improving for them at all unless BOTH the other parties somehow commit acts of gross political suicide in the next few weeks.

    “Harper said he thinks “the polls will serve to focus the mind.” ”
    What the hell does that even mean?? Maybe he’s referring to the night sweats he must be experiencing right now.

  12. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Let’s call it what it is, a ministerial manque de courage. Jenni Byrne. Secretive and dictatorial?

    Why are they squawking? After all, isn’t that a prerequisite for any job in Harper’s PMO?

  13. John from Saskatoon says:

    That old saying that the voter is always right is ridiculous. Most voters are to be frank, politically stupid. They vote based on emotion as opposed to ANY knowledge of a parties platform. The I like him or he seems nice vote is a moronic reason to vote for someone to run your country. These choices effect our day to day lives. Your PM is never going to be your buddy. He’s never going to enjoy kissing your baby. Smarten up. Look at the POLICIES! Don’t vote for someone you like when you don’t agree with any of their policies. Don’t vote against someone you dislike even though you like most of their policies.

    • billg says:

      That’s funny. We must live in one of the greatest places on earth due to unbelievable luck then.
      I’ll take the political stupidity of voters over anything else thanks….seems to be working pretty good.

      • John from Saskatoon says:

        We’ll see Oct 19th. Most comments on the election so far show people talking about voting against someone because they don’t like him or because of a false talking point they’ve heard about a policy. That is a stupid voter. Outrage over C-51 is a perfect example. Most people that hate it haven’t read it based on their blathering about things that aren’t in it.

        • Marc says:

          But I thought you wanted people to vote based on the policies? Just no C51?

          • Vancouverois says:

            I expect he means they should vote on actual policies. Not what people mistakenly imagine a given policy to be.

        • Bluegreenblogger says:

          You are joking right? Stoopid voters are those who think your guy is a twat? Here’s a basic lesson for you. Twats don’t get votes, except from the other twats. And fortunately, Canada’s twat community is shrinking.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      And you believe since a policy is introduced in an election it is actually going to be implemented?

      To be frank, you are politically stupid, or hopefully, just 12 years old, and this is your first political election.

      • John from Saskatoon says:

        You’re right buddy. Ignore the policies because none of them get implemented. You’re the exact stupid voter I’m talking about. Pre vote IQ test would save the system from braindead idiots like you voting in who has the best smile. You don’t deserve the privilege of voting. It’s wasted on your type.

        • Marc says:

          I think pretty much everyone is with Peter on this. John, come on. The policies are about messaging, not about implementing. If you’re just new at this then fine. But otherwise, most voters understand this.

          If election policy mattered, we’d have a serious of one term governments and the Liberal party wouldn’t exist at the federal level (or the NDP in most provinces.)

        • davie says:

          It’s easier when you have a dislikable human being with stupid policies.

  14. Vancouverois says:

    As I keep reminding people, as of today the campaign isn’t even half over yet.

    Let me say that again:


    There is more than enough time for any one of the parties to surge into the lead. And I strongly suspect that we haven’t seen anything yet as far as party advertising goes. Just you wait.

    What really matters is the home stretch. Unless the Conservative vote suddenly collapses completely, to the point that they cannot make it up in the last few weeks, I don’t think it matters all that much where they are today. If anything, peaking early is a bad sign — look at how it’s had an adverse effect on the NDP.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      The uptick for the NDP at the start of the campaign has resulted in the greatest collapse in modern history. NOT.

      Best to have obituaries written about you at the start of the campaign so you can miraculously rise from the dead.

      The NDP benefitted from C-51 opposition, repeated attack ads against Justin, and people wanting change. They still are, minus today’s NANOS, the ones to beat. In spite of an abysmal debate performance and lackluster campaign saving money for the final few weeks, they are still No.1.

      • Marc says:

        Not for long though. The momentum seems to be clearly on the Liberals side.
        Whether they can maintain that, or they are peaking too early, remains to be seen.
        But I really can’t envision Oct 19 with the NDP still on top.
        If the election hadn’t been called so early, no one would have taken the NDP’s summer lead seriously.

      • Vancouverois says:

        If you’re the one to beat, people will try to beat you.

        Of course the NDP is still in the lead… but as the frontrunner, they’re now under a lot more scrutiny and have become the targets of more attacks. And it looks like their support in Ontario has been softening as a result.

  15. KBab says:

    The Conservatives are looking like a spent force, bereft of ideas and without any galvanizing issue(s) like they have had in the past, ie. gun registry & same sex marriage. Fizzle, pizzle, pffish.

  16. billg says:

    There is an irony to the Conservative’s recent fall. They gained power over a Liberal govt that was running the country pretty well, economy was good, unemployment was normal and, other then Adscam no real big scandals to overcome, now, they look to be losing an election with an economy that is still performing well considering the world price of oil, unemployment rates a tad below normal, and, other then the Duffy incident of paying back taxpayers money, no huge scandals.
    I respect the fact that Mr Harper is still willing to fight an election he will probably lose. I respect that he says he will step down if he loses by one seat.
    I respect the hell out of our governments decision to vet every single refugee coming out of Syria or Turkey even if it costs him the election.
    I just cant see voters not wanting something new, and, I cant see the CPC and Mr Harper bouncing back from this.

  17. Liam Young says:

    I hope the wheels continue to fall of the Con bus. They deserve it.
    That said, I’m sick of this junk and I’m voting for the party that has the best chance of winning that consistently promises electoral reform. It’s a toss-up between the NDP and Greens for platform and since the Dippers have the greatest chance of winning, they’ve got my vote.

  18. Michael Bluth says:

    I suspect this will be the nadir of the Conservative’s campaign.

    Harper appears to have found something of a talking point on the refugee crisis.

    Basically it’s “Can’t let refugees flood in, have to go through security checks.”

    Seems like a reasonable line. May not lead to an increase in support, but staunches the bleeding. Paints a reasonable counter-point.

    Who will take advantage and become the main opponent Trudeau or Mulcair? The faster that is decided the better for the ABC crowd.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      I don’t know that this is their nadir yet– we have yet to see how much play the Bruce Carson trial gets starting Monday and whether the Mounties charge Pamela Wallin with anything.

      • Bluegreenblogger says:

        plus EVERYBODY with an axe to grind has been saving the juicies until Duffy effect winds down. That includes unions, enviro groups, dare I say the CBC? etc etc etc. I think that the CPC is going to be dodging sh*t bombs for the next four weeks.

    • Matt says:

      CBC had a former ambassador to Syria on today (He left in 2012 when the shit really started to hit the fan) who agreed with Harper that the refugees need to be checked out for security purposes.

      He also indicated it could be done quicker than the current time table but the oppositions timeframe is completely unrealistic.

  19. Not sure to understand what this conversation is about. Maybe polls are right, maybe they’re wrong. But the fact is there is no way of knowing before election day. So what’s the debate about?

  20. ottlib says:

    The Conservatives are not dead yet but they do not have much time to turn it around. I would say two weeks. Polls are beginning to consistently put them in third. If they are still there in two weeks the “Conservatives are going to lose” narrative will solidify and gain momentum. We should all know what will happen then as we have seen it often enough.

    If you do not know what will happen at that point I would point you to Premier Prentice, PM Martin, Premier Eves and PM Campbell, to name just four, for their insights on what I am talking about.

    Of course, that narrative could begin to take shape earlier if the Conservatives continue to slide in the coming days.

  21. patrick says:

    There should be no public polls during elections. Parties can of course do them for themselves but forget publicizing them. Let voters think for themselves without creating a herd mentality.

  22. Jon Evan says:

    The polls will be used to set a trap! It has worked before for Harper. The other parties are already taking the bait! All talking on joining in on the fun of together forming a coalition govt. How intensely frightening is that scenario? Do you have goose bumps yet? I do. When Harper pushes that button in a scary ad. voting day might turn out differently! Fear wins. It does.

  23. Ron says:

    Right now I think Harper wishes he could keep the media away. His fans are turning out to be harder to control than his MP’s and Ministers.

    No wonder he never did scrums. He looks like death warmed over, even at the current level of exposure.

  24. JonT says:

    Well…. according to the current polls it looks like we will have a NDP minority government. Now the question becomes: will the capitalist Liberal party support a quasi-socialist NDP minority government?

    PM Mulcair and Leader of the OOP Justin Trudeau supporting the NDP rabble. Might as well enter into a merger of the centre-left components of the Liberal and NDP parties rather than continuing the charade.

    If the Justin Liberals prop up the Mulcair NDP, there will be no good opportunity to vote no confidence and go into another election 18 months later. The Liberals will dissolve away and all that will be left is a strong NDP and weak Conservative opposition.

    That’s what will happen if the Justin Liberals have an ‘informal’ coalition with the Mulcair NDP. Canadians will polarize between the Left and Right of Canadian politics and the liberal Centre will just fall into the hole of political oblivion.

  25. dean sherratt says:

    One recalls the statement to Napoleon by General Desaix at the field of Marengo in 1800: “Sire, this battle is lost” then glancing at his pocket watch “But there is time enough to win another”.

    The current problem though is that no one is listening to PM Harper…

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