On the loony Left Coast, the strategery game is on.
BC is critical for all three parties. Forget pre-writ hopes of Liberal gains, they're fighting tooth and claw to hang-on to what they have. The NDP hoped to make balance of power gains here but now they're fighting to stem strategic votes bleeding to the Liberals and position themselves as the alternative instead. The Cons were forecast to loose ground in BC, but a rising tide raises all boats and they'll need gains here to reach majority territory.
The Liberals issued a press release Sunday (pasted below) touting the results of a surprising Ekos poll that positions them as the stop-Harper alternative, not the NDP. The Ekos numbers for BC are Liberal 40%, Conservative 34%, NDP 22%. The clear message? A vote for the NDP is a vote for Harper, so NDPers vote Liberal to stop Harper.
A Vancouver Sun article this morning shows the NDP are on the attack in BC as well, with new ads comparing Harper to BC Premier Gordon Campbell. It's an interesting strategy. They tarred the Fed Libs with the Gordo brush in 04 but he was a lot more unpopular then. They do seem to be developing specialized ads for targeted ridings though, including Vancouver Island North and Skeena-Bulkley Valley. Makes sense.
I think the Liberal polling data could resonate though, if played right (a big if). Ironically it's a play out of the NDP playbook. Late in the 2004 campaign the NDP commissioned a poll (with questionable methodologies, IMO) very late in the campaign showing them as the only alternative to Harper. It got lots of play in the community press on the Friday before e-day, too late for us to respond and attack it.
They (allegedly) reinforced that message over the weekend. I was working on the Liberal campaign in Prince Rupert, and flyers began showing-up in mailboxes and on car windshields touting the polling results, saying only the NDP could stop Harper. A phone number, coincidentally that of the local NDP campaign office, was included for those needing a ride to the polls. Missing was any NDP logo or authorization by the candidate's official agent. Naturally the NDP campaign denied any knowledge, although a car with hundreds of these flyers on the seats was observed parked outside their campaign office.
Anyway, the result was the anti-Harper vote went to the NDP and their candidate pulled-off a win over the Conservative incumbent. (Allegedly) Sneaky? You bet, but good politics. With the stakes as high as they are in BC, I wouldn't put anything past any of the parties this week. Should be fun.
Here's the Liberal release on the EKOS poll. On a side note, it's interesting that Ujal is fronting this and not BC's senior minister, David Emerson. From what I understand, Ujal isn't exactly Mr. Popularity with the NDP votes they're going after.
For Immediate Release
January 15, 2005
EKOS POLL SHOWS LIBERALS BEST OPTION TO STOP HARPER IN BC
VANCOUVER - On the heels of a SES Research poll Friday that had the Liberals 13 points ahead of the NDP in BC, and in a two-way race with the Conservatives, a new EKOS poll - with a larger sample size - shows the Liberals out front of the Conservatives and having a decisive 18 point lead over the NDP.
"Although we are not taking any results for granted, it is clear that British Columbians are not buying Stephen Harper's extreme policies," said Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal candidate in Vancouver South, and former NDP Premier. "British Columbians have seen the Conservatives in BC first hand. They have seen the radical views of their candidates. And they are know Jack Layton is not the way to stop them," said Dosanjh.
EKOS polled 303 British Columbians in a poll released this weekend by the Toronto Star. The numbers are as follows:
EKOS breaks out the BC numbers with the Liberals at 46% in Vancouver - a 29% lead over the NDP. In the rest of BC, the Liberals stand at 38% with a 14 point lead over the NDP. The Tories trail in second in both areas.
Source: EKOS, 303 respondents polled January 10-12th, margin of error plus or minus 5.6%, 19 times out of 20.
"British Columbians want a government that can deliver results for BC and manage the economy, while protecting public health care and defending the Charter of Rights. Under Paul Martin, British Columbia has more clout in Ottawa than ever before. Both Stephen Harper and Jack Layton represent extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum," said Dosanjh.
Link to EKOS numbers: