, 07.31.2018 07:58 AM

Change vs. More of the same

That was the frame in the epic 1992 Clinton vs. Bush matchup.

I talked to James Carville about it for my book The War Room.  Snippet here:

In 1992, the strategy Carville designed for Bill Clinton was the same from the start of the primaries to voting day in the general election for president. Clinton was the candidate of change — the new ideas Democrat who would fix the economy. It was always the same strategy, the same plan, from beginning to end.

“Our staff, however, was frequently distracted,” Carville admits. So he put up a famous sign on the war room wall in Little Rock. Here’s what it said:

Change Versus More of the Same

It’s the Economy, Stupid

And Don’t Forget Health Care

Change, as James Carville recalls, was the message. Positioning Bill Clinton as the agent of change was the strategy. The message was heard; the strategy was a winner.


Abacus is out this morning with this.

So almost 60 per cent of Canadians want a change – which means, per the cliché, if an election were held today, Justin Trudeau would be toast.  Abacus decided to probe deeper about how truly committed these folks are to “change.”  here’s what they found:

When asked if the government could do anything to change their mind, 14% (or 8% of the population overall) said “yes, for sure” while another 33% (19% of the population overall) said “there could be”.  In other words, the number of “hard change” voters is about 30% in total.

Among voters who say they are inclined to vote for a change but could be persuaded to vote to re-elect, 30% voted Liberal in 2015, only 15% would today.  35% voted CPC – 41% would today.  26% voted NDP – 29% would today.

We asked people to tell us which of several potential factors had been contributing to their desire to change the government next year.  Overall, fiscal and tax issues rank high in importance as do immigration and refugees issues and the PM’s trip to India.

They dug even deeper, too.  They put together a ranking of why New Democrat-leaners and Conservative-leaners favour change.  Here’s what they found.

What’s it all mean, Virginia?  It means Trudeau is being squeezed on both flanks, with defined issues.  It means that Trudeau’s detractors have identified clear reasons to defeat him.  It isn’t just some amorphous desire for change to whatever.

And that India imbroglio?  It pissed people off on both sides of the ideological spectrum.  It is now, officially, the biggest Prime Ministerial trip-mess since Joe Clark’s ill-fated trip to the Middle East, forty years ago.

Change.  When the desire for it takes hold, it’s pretty hard to stop.


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    doconnor says:

    43% is within majority territory.

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      Bill H says:

      Trudeau, Butts and the liberal cabinet of misfits and underachievers are actually hoping they lose – they see no way out of the mess they’ve made for themselves.

      Carbon Tax….“I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been.” Death of a Salesman. Arthur Miller.

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        doconnor says:

        Even among Conservatives, it seems like carbon pricing isn’t a top line concern.

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          Bill H says:

          Wrong! Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan are leading the way. New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland are next. Ford got in on overwhelmingly liberal Cap and Trade and Green policy. 70% of people say they are against it and think the provinces should have control over it. Mark my words, the liberals are learning how to backpedal on this – their pretty good in general at not delivering as promised, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them.

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            doconnor says:

            Leading the way with the age-old Conservative solution: a complex series of sector-by-sector regulations that never actually go into effect.

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            doconnor says:

            My statement is based on the chart above.

            I, too, am disappointed that “Environment Policies” rank low on the NDP list.

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      Sean says:

      exactly what I was thinking… 43% wants to stay the same = majority for sure…

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        Bill H says:

        HaHa! One and done.

        The blood is already in the water, the sharks are circling – Trudeau is Chum – and I don’t mean a friend. I wouldn’t be surprised there’s a quiet revolt going on in the backrooms of the LPC. Trudeau was once the poster boy, now he’s slowly becoming toxic to large L liberals. Too many gaffs and groping will be the demise of the boy child. He may have to step aside and let a woman run to prove his feminist mantra.

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          Fred from BC says:

          The latest Nanos poll shows this:

          Liberals 36 Conservative 35 NDP 19 Green (who cares?)

          That’s NANOS, don’t forget. The guy who always lean at least a couple of points more Liberal in his polling than everyone else.

          The Liberals are in trouble, there’s no question.

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    Mark says:

    Very telling analysis. For me, however, it’s going to come down to how those who desire change actually split the non-Liberal vote. It’s also more than a year from an election. Even if we assume that none of the 57 percent who want change vote Liberal, and that vote is split, say, 31 percent Conservative and 19 percent NDP and the rest Green (or heaven forbid, Bloc), does that still mean “Trudeau would be toast”?

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    Luke says:

    From my point of view, the invisible alternatives buffer the strength of the desire for change. If Jagmeet hadn’t disappeared and made an effort to plug the NDP as a real alternative, I’d think differently I believe. He seemed so promising but has totally failed to seize the goodwill he was enjoying near the end of the leadership contest.

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    Sean says:

    We’re not sure just what Trudeau does? He’s semi-retired ( always on vacation), hasn’t accomplished much, as you pointed out when compared to his father’s first mandate, has mangled the Canadian/ American relationship, seems to be overly influenced by George Soros, reeks of a Messianic complex, never seems to develop an idea beyond the topic sentence, and wrongly assumes that garden variety Canadians hold him in high esteem.

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    Bill H says:

    Trudeau still has time to make an even bigger fool of himself than he already has. Gerald Butts in probably the one who’s been pulling the strings though – so who’s the real fool I’m no longer sure? – both probably! They’ve been trying to lay a little lower – over exposure was really hurting them.

    “It’s the economy stupid” is probably the biggest thing on both conservative and liberal minds – the NDP – no so much. Other than the young mostly female Trudeau fan club, many small and large L liberals alike, are getting disenchanted by him. Middle income earners and the self employed Canadians under 45 are going to be the hardest hit as rates go up. The very people Trudeau was going after for votes. “The middle class and those who want to join it”

    The NDP will attempt to crucify Trudeau over election reform, pipelines and home mail delivery failures.

    Both the conservative and the NDP, have treasure chests full of choices for attack adds to use against the liberals, as the election draws near. The liberals have been the constant giver of bad news fodder to be used against them. Expect Ethics, Groping, Deficits, India and leaking borders to be high on the list. NAFTA and KM may torpedo the liberals before the race even begins. Another accusation of Trudeau’s “handling” of a young woman may yet surface – Boom!

    It’s been a long if not entertaining 3 years – 14 months to go until we give the adults a chance to right this listing ship.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Obviously, Liberals can’t change horse between now and election day. This Prime Minister needs to be his own change-agent, like last time.

    Soooo…since he can’t ditch himself, he has to identify those around him who steered him, more often than not, in the wrong direction.

    Then he needs to say, “Nice knowing ya” to them. Otherwise, their counsel will only continue to further deflate the Liberal balloon and put Trudeau on his political ass.

    Yeah, but Justin is stubborn, so very stubborn.

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    Matt says:

    “Trudeau still has time to make an even bigger fool of himself…….”

    Well, so do Scheer and Singh.

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      Bill H says:

      Good point!

      Singh is a non-starter even with the NDP tribe – what were they thinking?

      Scheer really has to get out there and and put himself in harms way of making a fool of himself – perhaps a blunder or two will get him noticed, if nothing else. But he’s playing Napolean – “never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake” – he’s hoping Trudeau will keep on making them!

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        Fred from BC says:

        I just read that Jagmeet Singh not only wants to impose that handgun ‘ban’ in Toronto (or was it all of Ontario?), he wants to stop the police from patrolling the neighborhoods where all the poverty and crime is…you know, because it hurts their feelings or something. Seriously. That’s what he wants to do.

        Andrew Scheer will really have to work hard to top that…

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    Mark says:

    I’ll just say, while there’s lots to be disenchanted with Trudeau and the government, I have to chuckle (or is it cry?) when I see some of your posters yearn for the return of “adult” governance, likely from same folks who dreamed up Muslim snitch lines. Give me a break!! My memory is not that short.

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      Bill H says:

      The good thing is, Mark, that was then and this is now. No doubt Harper made a few mistakes along the way, but his governance of this country was second to none. Even my liberal friends miss him. The conservative know they took a hit on that, unlike the liberals who gave $10.5 million to an enemy of our country. Trudeau and Co. are a bunch of juvenile pretenders, they know it and we know it.

      BTW – did you read today that the Manchester bomber was actually save by the Royal Navy in Libya? And we’re letting tens of thousands of unknown walk across our borders?

      Trudeau is now going to “study what other countries do about guns” but he hasn’t figured out there is no other country with an 8000KM undefended leaky border to a country with unfettered easy access to to firearms. Doesn’t matter a hoot if the took every gun off of every Canadian – it would change nothing.

      Remind me again how many $Billions Trudeau has put us into debt?

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    Elijah says:

    I get the dismay with Trudeau, which is mostly self inflicted, but I think we need to wait until Andrew Scheer is being juxtaposed with Trudeau in a general election campaign.

    Scheer is the definition of underwhelming. Even Harper who’s positively charming compared to Scheer proved too bland and undesirable the first go with the electorate. It took Paul Martin really crapping the bed to make Harper happen. I suspect that era is still a little too fresh on the minds of Canadians and nobody will be in a rush to elect a wholesome social conservative who looks to be afraid of his own shadow.

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      Bill H says:

      No denying the conservative will have to light a fire under Scheer. But the question really should be; why do we need a pretty boy or girl charismatic leader in Canada? Arguably, Harper certainly wasn’t, but he was good at what he did – doesn’t that count anymore? Is it all about photogenic flash and selfies now – do we have to appeal to the shallow?

      Because Andrew Scheer looks afraid of his own shadow, does that make him unelectable? That his quiet unpretentious demeanour makes him stupid and unable to run Canada? Is it better we have someone with movie star looks and the IQ of my Labrador (sorry Cindy) with charisma and looks? (someone should tell Germany that’s why their economy is so bad) Andrew Scheer is smart – you do know he was the Speaker of the House? I’d much prefer my surgeon or pilot to have brains than charisma or looks. And to your point, Trudeau will be fresh in the minds of Canadians when they are standing in the voting booth – that’s should scare the bejesus out of Butts (no pun intended) and the LPC – Trudeau has crapped the bed more than once, and in quick succession over a relatively short period. In fact, all too often!

      I’m disappointed we don’t ave a female leader of the CPC. We do have the distinction to have had the only female PM of Canada – even if it was short lived.

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        Des says:

        I agree Bill. I know that being the Leader has its distinction but what makes a good PM is a good group behind him/her who are able to make the PM a good one. For instance, Chretien had people behind his back like Copps, Manley, and Tobin. Martin had Dion and Belanger. Harper had Baird, Flaherty, Kenney, MacKay, Nicholson, Clement, etc. These MPs/cabinet ministers were those that the PM could rely on to help them out of a tough situation. Who does Trudeau have? Dominic Leblanc maybe? The LPC is one person and it’s Trudeau. Their party suffers as the leader suffers unlike the CPC would. I’ll honestly take a bland Andrew Scheer who we can almost guarantee won’t make a fool of us internationally and probably doesn’t have much of a past of grabbing random women who turned out to be journalists. To me, partisan politics is a team game and right now the blue team seems to have a good powerplay unit and the red team is bad at taking penalties.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Bill H,

        You mean we Progressive Conservatives, not we Conservatives.

        Anyone who pretends that these are two peas in a pod is seriously deluded. Just ask Harper how the same they were. Cause they weren’t, period.

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          Bill H says:

          Ronald O’Dowd,

          Deluded I’m not, quite the contrary in fact. The Conservative Party of Canada, like every other political party in Canada, has morphed to suit their followers, policies and the times we live in. There is few or any of the original “Progressive Conservative Party or the Reform Party of Canada members still sitting in the House of Commons. Likewise, there are few if any of the original (AdScam) Liberals (except Ralph Goodale who looks like a dear in the headlights now) still sitting. The Liberals now look more like the NDP (really have no clue who the NDP are) and the Conservatives look more like where the Liberals used to be 15 – 20 years ago. The Liberals and NDP now call themselves “Progressives” – in case you haven’t noticed, would you consider them to be Conservatives? The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta just recently changed their name to the United Conservative Party – are the now less Progressive or more? Semantics my friend – don’t get caught up in the name – observe how the parties operate, the leader, their policies, their promises, who they appeal to and do they deliver. Just remember this, Politicians would sell their Granny for votes!

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Bill H,

            I’m not going to sit here and say that an Alberta or Ontario-centric federal party is good or bad. What I will say is that the former is a fair representation of the CPC mindset while the latter was a better descriptor of the federal PCs.

            Stuck it out in the CPC from 2003-09, despite the fact that the mentality could hardly be described as my cup of tea. Then moved on to the Liberals.

            Finally, I take your points. Thanks.

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    David_M says:

    Isn’t “being squeezed on both flanks” the natural position of the Liberal Party?
    I would think they would be used to it by now.

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    Angel Martin says:

    Right Track / Wrong Track still looks ok.

    (Canada 42% Right Track; 35% wrong track)

    When Trump was elected the USA was 70+ percent Wrong Track.

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    Gord Tulk says:

    Clinton and Chrétien both won because their opposition was divided. The rest was just window dressing.

    In the upcoming election the division of the left will put the CPC in Power IF the NDP get some lift outside of Quebec AND the BQ support returns to the CPC in Quebec (driven there by bogus refugees and other factors).

    A real wildcard is if President Trump cuts a deal with Mexico and leaves Canada out in the cold. Say goodbye to a gentle dismantlement of supply management and other sacred cows if that happens.

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