Musings —12.09.2010 09:57 AM—
Everyone who has worked in politics knows what it is.
It’s hard to define, as is the joy that you get from a winning campaign. It’s a feeling, and one that you really can’t put into words. You walk into a winning campaign, or attend a jubilant rally, or whatever, and you can feel it. It’s a winning feeling. It’s the best feeling there is, pretty much.
It’s not a scientific measurement, by any means. When I had the privilege to run for Jean Chretien in North Vancouver in 1997, for example, a member of my family – one who had lots of political experience – observed my campaign office and amazing team, and said that it truly “feels like a winning campaign.” Except that I lost, decisively, to a guy the Canadian Press called “elfin,” and whom his own leader despised. So it’s not always an accurate measurement.
But this week, at least, quite a few political noses are starting to twitch. They are wondering if the smell of defeat is starting to settle in around the Liberal Party of Canada.
First, there was the respected Nik Nanos, suggesting in his big end-of-year survey that the Reformatories are on track for a majority. Said Nik: “The current configuration of national support for the Conservatives suggests that numerically a Tory majority government can be formed without significant breakthrough in the province of Quebec.”
Then, there was that Abacus poll everyone was wondering about, showing there Harper party more than ten points ahead of the Ignatieff team. Said Abacus, which is not yet well-known: “The Conservatives dominate the opposition parties among Canadians aged 45 and over, and have large leads in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and in British Columbia. In battleground Ontario, the Conservatives have an 8-point lead over the Liberals, with the NDP trailing at 21%.”
Then, yesterday afternoon, the Angus Reid poll that really had Grit phones and Blackberries buzzing: the poll that had the Grits a big 12 points behind the Reformatories – and half of the identified Liberal vote wanting a change in leadership. Unlike all of the other leaders, Angus Reid said in a release, “the situation is unquestionably different for Michael Ignatieff, with a majority of Canadians (56%) and almost half of Liberal voters in 2008 (46%) claiming that the Grits should change their leader before the next federal election.”
And, finally, last night – not a poll, but a performance. Stephen Harper tinkling the ivories, and singing up a storm, at the Conservative staff Christmas party. Even the paper that historically favours the Liberal Party, the Toronto Star, was gushing: “Stephen Harper as Mick Jagger? Hard to imagine, but there was the Prime Minister belting out “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” in front of a packed crowd of Conservative MPs and staff Wednesday night…[it was] a foot-stomping, hand-clapping show that had cabinet ministers dancing.”
What’s it all mean? Well, some will say it’s a lot of rock’n’roll sound and fury signifying nothing, of course. The polls are outliers, Harper’s performance won’t change voters’ views about him, no one cares about politics right now and they don’t want an election anytime soon, and so on.
Those are all fair comments. They may even be true.
But on this bitterly-cold December morning, I can tell you that quite a few Liberals are starting to get highly, highly uncomfortable. They are unhappy. They are asking questions. They are wondering if this week is a blip, or a trend.
And their noses are starting to twitch, and not just because of the cold.