KCCCC Day 53: polls, schmolls

  

  • Look, I’m in the backseat of a crowded Beck taxi, heading to Pearson  and Whitehorse. I don’t have time to do a great big KCCCC thing. Sorry. 
  • So, instead, I give you this snapshot of National Newswatch this morning. It has to be seen to be believed. If any of you can discern a pattern in these entrails, speak your mind. But God knows if I can figure it out. Comment away!

  


KCCCC Day 52: the Yogi Berra edition 

  

  • Yogi Berra has died. The beloved All Star and World Series champion catcher was 90. The reason why the Jays lost in an extra inning, last night, was because God is a Yankee fan. Obviously. 
  • Yogi, along with being arguably the most famous baseball player ever, was also the source of many famous aphorisms. As such, to honour him, we of course intend to apply his wisdom to the Canadian election campaign. Of course. Here goes. 
  • “It ain’t over until it’s over.” What does this mean in the context of a Canadian election? Well, plenty. This has been the election without end – and, even when it ends, it will not have ended. That’s because we are almost certainly going to be looking at a minority Government, and another bloody election will take place not so long afterwards. So it truly is not over. And won’t be anytime soon. 
  • “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.” What did our gentle muse mean by this? Well, hard to say. There’s one thing is for sure: all of the previous records in Canadian politics – that the NDP would never form government in Alberta, that Liberals could not win a fourth consecutive terms in Ontario, that Stephen Harper cannot possibly win a majority after three unsuccessful tries – well, all of those records were broken, weren’t they? We are in a time of undeniable change. None of the old rules or conventions seem to apply.
  • “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.” This gem applies to baseball, but it obviously applies to the Canadian polling industry, as well. They seem to get things wrong more often than they get things right, these days. The examples are legion. So, to those of you poking through the entrails of Nanos’ “power index” (whatever that is), or Whomever’s “likely voters” (ditto) – good luck to you. Nobody really knows how things are going to turn out, anymore, which makes it a lot more fun again.
  • “I never said most of the things I said.” This witticism can clearly apply to all three major party leaders. After all, all of them have seemingly adopted positions that are decidedly at odds with the positions they held in the past. Mulcair is against deficits and for fighter jets. Trudeau is for anti-terror legislation but against actually fighting terrorists. Harper was against letting in more refugees, until he was. And so on. It’s hard to keep track without a program, folks.
  • “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” In other words, a big choice is coming your way in less than four weeks, and none of us knows which choice to make. None of the leaders are popular enough to clearly win. None of the political parties are popular enough, either. In baseball, as in life, three-way ties are not permitted. Therefore, get ready for extra innings, folks! 


KCCCC Day 51: is Justin Trudeau turning the Liberal Party into the NDP?

 

  • Based on the evidence, the answer just might be yes.  And it’s been going on for a while, too.
  • Go back almost a year ago, when the Liberal leader angered many (me included) with his adamant refusal to combat ISIS.  It was opposed by the likes of Lloyd Axworthy, Bob Rae and Gen. Romeo Dallaire – and, in the view of lesser Grit mortals like me, it was reckless.  ISIS was the most significant genocidal threat the planet had seen in a long time – and, per the axiom, silence/indifference was complicity.  But Trudeau had staked out a position that was clearly designed to attract New Democrat wafflers. Even when he started to fall from his first-place perch in the polls, Trudeau stuck to his (non-lethal) guns on ISIS.
  • It might have worked, too, but for C-51.  Anything that Trudeau achieved with his ISIS stance was lost with his approve-of-C51-before-even-reading-it position.  Many in the Liberal Party (but not me) were angry that he had decided to criminalize the promotion of terror, just as his father had rightly criminalized the promotion of hatred and genocide. As the year began, Liberals felt dizzy: Trudeau had jerked them to the Left (with his ISIS position) and then to the Right (with his C-51 position). It was policy whiplash.
  • Since then, since C-51, Trudeau hasn’t changed course. He’s gripped the steering wheel, and aimed the Liberal ship to the Left – and he hasn’t wavered.  He sought to place himself to the Left of Thomas Mulcair – and, as of this week, I think he’s done it.
  • Take a look at the evidence.  He’s the guy who favours big deficits, not Mulcair.  He’s the guy who wants to balloon infrastructure spending. He’s the guy who wants to accept a historic number of Syrian refugees.  He’s the guy who daily rails against millionaires, not Mulcair.  He’s the guy who actually says that the democratic socialists favour “austerity,” and he doesn’t.  He’s the guy who, this week, announced that he would scrap the purchase of F-35 fighter jets, not Mulcair.  And on and on.
  • There can’t be any debate that Trudeau now leads the New New Democrats.  What’s unclear is his motive. One, it could be that he has calculated that there are more gettable New Democrat voters than so-called Blue Grits, and he’s sacrificed the support of the latter for the former.  Two, it could be that he’s positioning himself for a Peterson-style minority government, with NDP support (and maybe even participation) assured.  Three, it could be that he really and truly believes it is the right thing to do, his upbringing notwithstanding.
  • Can it work? Well, look what I found doing a Google search for you this morning.  It worked before for another Trudeau.  Maybe it will again for this one.  From the Lewiston Daily Sun, February 19, 1980:

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 8.16.14 AM


KCCCC Day 50: four weeks to get engaged! Or, not.

 

  • It’s Day 50 – and there’s only four weeks to go!  Listening to CBC Radio this morning on the way to work, a few of the hosts were saying that people are “engaged” in this election campaign.  They didn’t seem to have any data to back up that contention – just, anecdotally, people are “engaged.”
  • Are they really? I’m not saying they’re not, and nor am I saying that they are.  I honestly don’t know – and neither, it seems, does anyone else.
  • The most-recent debate suggests to me that few folks are tuned in to this thing.  The commentariat were highly excitable about it all – Old Stock Canadians! Trudeau’s yelling! Mulcair made a reefer joke! – but was anyone else? Well, at least one poll suggests that the debate didn’t move the needle at all, as seen here.  Which may mean that no leader won or lost.  Or, it may mean that just 300,000 people were watching it onlinea figure that is regularly exceeded by the Smosh YouTube kids. (And the debate before that? No better.)  Carville likes to say if it didn’t happen on TV, it didn’t happen.  But what if it happened on TV, and no one watched? Then it still didn’t happen.
  • The pollsters are as confused about “engagement” as anyone else.  They are currently washing their dirty laundry in public, but when they’re not doing that, they are saying little that is definitive about engagement – perhaps because, logically, it’s impossible to ask folks who aren’t engaged why they aren’t engaged.  Because they’re not, um, engaged enough to talk to a pollster about engagement.  But the overall trends aren’t good.
  • The punditocracy, me included, all thought everyone’s attention would be riveted after Labour Day.  We didn’t know that, we just thought that.  To this point, I’ve seen little empirical evidence that we were right – that first post-Labour Day debate should have had some kind of an effect (in my view, hurting Trudeau and helping Mulcair).  But it didn’t. Nada.
  • Bottom line? The bottom line is that there isn’t one.  This continues to be the Seinfeld-ian Election About Nothing™.  There’s been no shocking development, there’s been no excitement, there’s been no big shift, there’s been no change at all, in fact.  It’s just been…nothing.  And that suggests, to me, that folks still aren’t engaged.  And that – just maybe – they will continue to stay that way for the next four weeks.
  • Here’s a photo that neatly summarizes what I think is going on.  It’s all-Canadian, eh?

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KCCCC Day 49: can you spot the theme?

  

  • Look, I couldn’t tell you how the election is going turn out. I’ve long suspected the CPC would pull it off, as seen here, but only a crazy person would say they know. 
  • But there’s a trend, a feeling, out there. That the Liberals are doing well, but not well enough to win government. That the NDP have stalled and, in some places, are slipping. And that Harper has a rock-solid base who vote for him no matter what, and that there are more Harper supporters out there than the (obviously flawed) polls are reporting. 
  • Others feel likewise, apparently. As you can see here and here and here from today, and here and even here from previous days. 
  • In a race this tight, some things matter and some things don’t. What doesn’t matter are national horserace polls and punditry about same. What matters is GOTV, organization and E-day. 
  • The Cons have been stronger with those sorts of things for a decade. They still are. And that’s why, after a decade in power – with scandals and recessions and controversies on his watch – it is simply amazing that Stepehen Harper is still in the race, let alone tied with the other two guys. 
  • The reason for that is the core vote. Harper has always had a core vote that is big enough to win at least a minority – and the other two haven’t. Their voters, as we have seen, are highly promiscuous. They flit back-and-forth. And that suits Stephen Harper just fine. His vote is bigger than they say. And it isn’t going anywhere between now and E-day. 


KCCCC Day 48: old stock

  

  • What is “old stock” anyway? Well, when I was a teenager in Calgary, it was this. You’d drink it to get wasted faster. 
  • Before that, in Quebec, it was something you heard all the time. I’d hear older Anglo friends of my folks saying it about themselves. When you hear francophones calling themselves pure laine,” which they still do about a million times a day, that’s what they mean.  Old stock. 
  • Is it racist? Was Harper wrong to say it? In Quebec, it sure ain’t. It’s part of the lingo. Everyone says it, so perhaps folks in the rest of Canada are saying seven million Québécois are racist. To me, then, it isn’t racist – and you might say I know a little about real racism – it’s just one of those sayings that we probably shouldn’t use anymore, mainly because it isn’t very accurate. After all, the only folks really entitled to call themselves “old stock” are these guys.
  • So, in closing, a message to Justin Trudeau. Apparently you are super upset Stephen Harper said that. But I’d recommend you stop being being so wound up about it – because, as you know, there was another politician who used the phrase long before Stephen Harper did, as seen in paragraph five. Namely, um, you.