#7 Turning off the voters as the clock ticks down.
There was only one definitive word for the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee on October 7: Boring! Barrack Obama and John McCain left no political cliché behind in 90 minutes of a poorly structured show. Tom Brokaw, the senior television news personality, had little to no control of the event as moderator and should shoulder a third of the blame for it being bad television. Even if the two senatorial contenders were tired from the rigours of the campaign, Brokaw had no such excuse.
But the problem is that nobody, north or south, try as they will, can answer the question as to what can really be done about the financial crisis. On October 9, the Harper Conservatives gave the news media a CTV video tape of Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion constantly flubbing his lines in answer to an interviewer asking him about solutions to the economy. Repeatedly asking for the tape to be restarted might be embarrassing for Dion, but Harper has no answers either. Harper, in the Canadian debates, tried repeatedly to stonewall the same question. Dion, to his credit, tries to answer it honestly.
With days to go in the Canadian election and another three weeks to the American vote, it is clear that the right wing of Harper and McCain have reached the end of their campaign hopes. Harper dreamed of winning a majority. He can forget it. McCain dreamed of finally winning the presidency. He can forget that too. For all of McCain’s wife’s millions, he is in the wrong party at the wrong time.
Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, this writer used to get a call by this point in Canadian and Ontario elections from a very knowledgeable television executive. The challenge of the call was a standing bet on who was going to win the election. Increasingly over the years the TV guy demanded more and more stringent conditions on the wager. In the final election bet, the writer had to be accurate within three seats nationally for each party. That was a lunch that the writer won by a very narrow margin.
That level of accuracy would be impossible to achieve in the current Canadian election. The mood of the voters is still shifting.
That does not mean that we cannot provide a service for vote watchers on October 14.
To start, Liberal Stéphane Dion has definitely gained ground since the campaign started. He has earned the respect of many voters who were prepared to dismiss him and he has brought back much of the Liberal soft vote, those prepared to give up on the Liberals this time around.
Harper, in turn, is in free fall. His handlers are trying to take him out of circulation at this point because his inflexible and pedantic style have turned off many of his soft votes. He is keeping his hard-core right wing voters and is still in minority government range but he has three days of campaigning left to lose that toehold on the prime minister’s office.
The NDP and the Greens are the ones in trouble. What the pollsters fail to tell you about the potential fringe party votes they count ahead of an election is that there are voters included in these vote totals who are just parked in those camps. They are voters who have a ‘so what?’ attitude. They might not vote for that party. They tell the pollsters that they are going to vote that way to hide their real intention. These people might still be lying but they are starting to face the reality of actually voting or not voting at all. If caught up in an exit poll, they are the people who will tell you that they voted strategically against one of the major parties.
The stand-pat people in this election are the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec. Party leader Gilles Duceppe has shored up his winnable ridings and is harrying the Liberals and the few Conservatives who will share the seats in that province. The early threat by a determined Conservative party and efforts by the NDP are not going to happen.
It therefore is going to be 40 to 50 seats for the Bloc. There is little changed in Quebec. Across the entire country, Harper’s Conservatives are struggling between 125 and 135 seats and the Liberals are within range of them with between 95 and 110 seats. The odd man out is Jack Layton of the NDP who might relent after the election and add his 25 to 35 seats to a coalition with the Liberals to keep Dion to the left of centre. Our apologies to Elizabeth May but as many as three Green seats is only a remote possibility given the concerns of the voters.
The American election is computed in an entirely different manner as the results depend on relatively few but large states where the mud slinging is reaching new depths in the meaning of disgusting. Senator McCain particularly should be ashamed of himself.
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