Thursday, November 24, 2005

Liberal's greatest threat could be desire for change?

The National Post reports on a new poll by Decima that goes against the conventional wisdom that it's the Adscam scandal the Liberals have most to worry about.

Instead, the poll suggests that the voters are ready for change. Of respondents who said they wanted the current government replaced, only 35% said that it was because of Adscam, whereas 57% said that it was because the Liberals have been in power too long.

If true, this growing feeling that it's time for a change is good news for the Conservatives. Outrage over Adscam will tend to fade over time. This was seen after the release of the first part of the Gomery Report, when the Liberals took a huge hit in the polls, only to recover back to their previous levels. However, a general feeling that change would be a good thing wont fade away so easily.

The bad news for the Conservatives is, critically, how Stephen Harper is viewed. Of those who said they would still vote Liberal (yeah, there's quite a lot of them, particularly in Ontario), 40% cited Harper as their main motivation. This shows how successful Liberal campaigns to present Harper as a scary right-winger have been, and it is essential for the Conservatives that they go some way at least toward counteracting this in the coming election campaign.

The Liberals have said that they will run two campaigns, one for Quebec focused on "unity", and one for the rest of Canada, probably focused on slagging off Stephen Harper. I think the Conservatives should also run a split campaign: focusing on corruption and Adscam in Western Canada, and on presenting Harper and the Party as a more moderate alternative in Ontario and the East.

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