Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Sunshine for Harper or Dion

If the recent poll conducted by the Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll is correct, there is very little hope for either the Conservatives or the Liberals in forming a majority government were an election to be held today. The news is equally bad for Jack Layton's NDP who are continuing to slip, now to 13% nationally, in spite of his best efforts to keep his party on the radar. Gilles Duceppe's Bloc Quebec maintains it's lead of 35% in Quebec, but that is still down 7% from the 2006 general election.

Normally, we'd just have to say that it will likely be an election campaign that will make all the difference but in this case their doesn't appear to be a high profile issue where any one party has a clear advantage. Harper is coming off as even colder and more distant than he did in the last two elections, Dion looks like the victim in some melodrama, Layton has long ago alienated urban/industrial base that Broadbent nearly won an election with , and Gilles Duceppe is leading a party that doesn't seem to have a reason to exist.

It's hard to imagine any of these parties suddenly emerging as a big winner in a campaign. If any one of them is going to take a sudden surge, I'd have to say it would be the Bloc and NDP. Firstly, the NDP support is very soft in most parts of the country, but they are still the second choice of many Liberals in Ontario, Tories in the West (not that that will really matter in most ridings) and the Bloc in Quebec. That could result in Layton holding onto as many seats as he's got now, if and only if he runs a perfect campaign.

The Bloc could surge back up and hold onto the seats they've got, perhaps stealing a few along the way. Last time around, Harper caught Duceppe completely off-guard by winning seats in what only months before appeared to be a permanent Tory wasteland. This time around, Duceppe will be able to focus his attacks on Dion's personal unpopularity, and the unpopularity of Harper's policies on issues like the environment.

The other wild card is Elizabeth May's Green party, which is polling at about 9%. Though her party may win a seat or two, it is unlikely. It is more likely that the votes she pulls away will cause other effects that are not currently being widely predicted.

With no clear defining issue for any party, this election could turn out to be one of the dullest in years or alternately one of the most interesting.

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