Tuesday, May 08, 2007

OK, now how do we grow?

I’d be a bad blogger indeed if I didn’t comment on the new polling numbers from SES that, like a number of polls of late, show the Liberals and Conservatives in a statistical dead-heat. The rogue poll argument no longer holds water, the trends show things are tight.

I’m very happy to see the Conservatives finally coming back down to Earth thanks to a combination of factors, namely it would seem Afghanistan, the environment, and their own arrogance and incompetence. Governments, as the saying goes, defeat themselves, and while it’s extremely premature to go there it has certainly been a bad stretch for Harper et al.

There is definitely a lot in the recent polls for Liberals to be happy about. I’d like to try to take a slightly different tack than others have though and ask another question: With the Conservatives shooting themselves in the feet, how do the Liberals grow their support?

Because if you look at the trend lines from SES and other pollsters you’ll see that Liberal support has remained relatively steady at around 30 per cent since the last election. We haven’t gained support to catch the Conservatives; they’ve lost support to come down to our level.

Now, holding onto our support through a rather tumultuous period that included an extended leadership race, a Conservative honeymoon and a rocky start for Dion is not that shabby, as I’ve argued in the past.

Not to be negative though, but with the Conservatives now struggling we need to convert some of that Conservative weakness into Liberal strength. We need to start growing our support.

Just like everyone used to know there would be a spring election, now everybody knows there won’t be one. That means the Liberals will at least have the summer, and we need to use it. No summer breaks, every member of the Liberal “dream team” needs to hit the road and visit every bbq, corn roast and clam bake from Prince Rupert to Bonavista.

Have Dion, Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy, Hall-Findlay, Trudeau, Dhalla and the rest fan out across the country. Get them in front of small groups and into small towns. Forget the national media, get in front of community newspaper reporters and broadcasters.

And have everyone singing from the same playbook. We need to start putting a little meat on the policy bones. Marketing experts say the average person will take away just three things away from a message. We already have our three things in the three pillars: the economy, social justice and the environment. Unfortunately if these pillars were a stool you’d slide off.; the environmental leg has gotten a bit oversized. A little balance is needed.

Let’s flesh out the social justice and economic management messages. We’ve got ready-made, attractive policies for both, from using the next planned GST decrease to fight child poverty to our plan for income trust fairness that will resonate strongly with seniors. Let’s take those messages along with our environmental message to the people.

By seeming to flop from one problem to the next the Conservatives are doing their bit. Now, it’s up to the Liberals to do ours.

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In_The_Centre said...

Have Dion, Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy, Hall-Findlay, Trudeau, Dhalla and the rest fan out across the country

I agree. An effective summer mini-campaign of grassroots building is what the party needs to do to gain momentum


burlivespipe said...

The tour is essential, and I think that if each region has a mini-campaign stop with 2-3 of the heavyweights (Dion, Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy, Hall-Findlay, Trudeau, Dryden, Dosanjh, Bennett, McCallum, Dhalla, Leblanc, Rodriguez, Fry, Garneau...) to talk with the locals, press the flesh and give the local media some face-time.
You've also pinpointed another important point -- our underplayed 2 other pillars, which are probably the two more vulnerable areas for Harpor's hitmen. Social justice is their achilles in Afghanistan and at home, where they've shown incredible ambivalence towards 'innocent til proven guilty', toss out the fact that Harpor likes to tar people with a fairly ugly brush, that this approach could hit the liberties and rights of anyone. And the economy. The income trust broken promise, premier Williams' bluster, the Alcan-takeover scenario. We have to do a better job, and I give McCallum some good marks on pressing this point, but why not get Ignateiff and Dryden into the act too. The Cons have done nothing to grow this economy. In fact, their budgetary spending has put the treasury in precarious situation should something occur on the financial markets. The general consensus from the media and polling is that Harpor is seen as a competitive manager of our finances. This is an illusion that we must cut through, show the 'man-behind-the-curtain' and not allow them to go 'boogety-boogety!' about a Liberal gov't when they've neither given Canadians true tax breaks (unless you spend more on targeted items) nor braced the economy for future development/planning.
It's gotta be a full-prong attack, and lets ease up on the environment a little to voice these other issues.

Joseph L. Angolano said...

"I’d be a bad blogger indeed if I didn’t comment on the new polling numbers..."

I personally think that commenting on polls is a waste of time unless these polls can answer why the support levels are where they are. Internal party polling might answer that, but we don't have access to those. Speculating why the numbers are where they are without statistical backing is a bit useless. A lot of pundits and bloggers do that and I really wish that they would stop.

To quote Keith Davey, don't use polls to figure out if you are winning or not. You get to find that out for free on election day. Use polling to find out why you are winning or losing.