Is Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party going to win the coming election?
Yes, probably. But not because of him, really. He’s likely going to win because of us.
Yes, us. Ten reasons.
1. Midstream horses. The pandemic has been the most disruptive event of our lifetimes — politically, economically, culturally, personally. During a crisis of this magnitude, nobody likes to change horses midstream.
2. Incumbency matters. When you have power, you have the edge: The media pay more attention to you; you have money to spend; you make consequential decisions. Your challengers have none of that. Incumbents always have the upper hand. That’s particularly the case since COVID hit.
3. Scandals are irrelevant. Justin Trudeau has had more scandals than any prime minister in more than a generation. But it doesn’t matter. The media and political people squawk about scandals too often, so the public tune it out. Until you are led away in an orange pants suit and handcuffs, they just don’t care.
4. Editorials are irrelevant. We in the media can write editorial endorsements until the cows come home. But what we want voters to do doesn’t matter — plenty of studies show that voters are not swayed by editorials. At all.
5. Voters are their own editors.People receive most of their political information from social media. That gives them the ability to choose what and when they want to see and read. And they tend to only follow sources who correspond to their own biases and opinions.
6. Low information. We live in an era of low-information voters: They are too busy with trying to make a living, raise their kids, and pay the bills. They don’t have time to worry about what the media and politicians worry about. They just need to know the basics. Trudeau gives them that.
7. Hope trumps fear. After the pandemic, after what we’ve gone through, people don’t want to hear any more bad news. They only want to hear good news. Trudeau is exceptionally good about focusing on the positive and ignoring the negative.
8. Ideas count. Voters don’t want to hear why the other guy is bad. They want to hear what you will do, and when you will do it. During the pandemic, Trudeau has been using the public service to come up with ideas. His Conservative opponents have come up with none.
9. Optics matter. Did you know that Erin O’Toole is actually younger than Justin Trudeau? I’ll bet you didn’t know that. How you look and sound on a voter’s TV or computer screen matters more than what you say. That’s depressing, but it’s reality.
10. People are happier than they were. The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, people are increasingly getting their second dose of vaccine. They feel pretty good. And Justin Trudeau knows it.
As depressing as it may be, Trudeau is likely to win again.
And we are the reason. Not him.
— Warren Kinsella was special assistant to Jean Chretien