An unscientific method.

On Global’s West Block public affairs show on Sunday, two of the Toronto Star’s remuda of political pundits voiced their opinions on the Monday by-election in Vancouver’s Burnaby South. They both picked new democrat leader Jagmeet Singh. If you were only going to guess at the outcome, that was a good guess. Even if I was still handicapping politics, I would likely have come to the same conclusion.

But I would not have been guessing. The key to political handicapping is to not believe what others report on the workouts. When needing to know, I often grabbed some literature from the committee rooms and went out to explore the riding. I have been told it is very unscientific to select neighbourhoods, knock on random doors and talk to the homeowners. Yet, I cannot find a simpler way to find out why people are likely to vote or not, support one candidate over others and how deeply they feel about the issues.

In a by-election, motivating the voters to go to the polls is your major challenge. You can have many voters telling you that you have their support but if you have no ground game to get them to the polls, you have wasted your time.

And that challenge can be doubly hard in a general election. The pressure is on the average voter to get out to the polls and if they do not know who to vote for, your efforts can be wasted. A good ground game can come to the rescue.

The only problem is that a good ground game takes extensive organization, hard work, long hours, careful planning and always with backups for your back-up plans.

It was a bit of a shock to the system when I moved from Toronto up to Barrie in central Ontario. There are a band of rural electoral districts stretching from Ottawa all the way to Windsor, that are dominated by conservatives. And they have also mastered the ground game.

It is too bad that liberal leader Justin Trudeau does not understand the importance of giving people involvement in their party.  It enables the party to mount a strong ground game in many electoral districts.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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