Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shorter by-elections: Stephane Dion will never be Prime Minister

Across the country this morning pundits and political junkies are reading the tea leaves of last night’s by-elections trying to conjure trends, or at least figure out why the Elections Canada results page refreshes every 90 seconds.

So here’s a tip. The only number worth knowing is 97.

Just over two years ago, the Paul Martin Liberals salvaged 103 seats from the rebuke Canadians gave them. And today, they have only 97 remaining.

As the result of four floor crossings and stunning by-election loses in Outremont and Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, the Liberal team is even lighter now than they were in 2006.

So here’s a puzzle: To elect Dion Prime Minister, Liberals will need to keep every seat they have (not a small challenge, evidently), and pick up at least 60 more. How?

Consider this: There have been nine by-elections since 2006. Of the six held in Liberal ridings, two now belong to other parties and another was very nearly lost in Vancouver Quadra last night. In the remaining three Bloc-held seats, the Liberals were humiliated, coming 3rd in Roberval and fourth in two others, behind the NDP.

So, what does that say? It says that in Quebec, Liberals can’t win new seats, or keep the ones they have in Montreal. It says they can’t keep seats they have in rural Canada, and that they can barely hold onto urban Vancouver seats they won in 2006. And growth? Well, that will come in GTA seats they already hold, based wholely on the occasional star power of their candidates.

It doesn’t take a Carville-esque strategic mind to figure out that losing seats you hold and failing to grow makes it tough for your leader to begin a sentence with “a Liberal government will . . .” without being greeted by polite eye-rolling and muffled guffaws.


Scott Tribe said...

That's a good attempt at trying to hide behind the fact that the NDP did absolutely dismal in urban centres last night and was fighting with the Greens. Cam Holmstrom can at least admit it wasn't good - I'm not surprised to see one of the most (if not THE most) partisan NDP blogger on their blogroll not come out and admit that the NDP's strategy at attacking the Liberals 90% of the time while occasionally tut-tutting the Conservatives has failed to move votes to them in traditional urban centres where their strategy should theoretically be the strongest in syphoning off Liberal votes.

Didn't work BH. Maybe you guys and Jack can learn that folks would prefer you to go after the real enemy to the NDP - which is the Cons - rather then taking consistent and constant potshots at the Official Opposition in a ploy to try and win more seats.

northwestern_lad said...

Scott.... I'm not happy with the results, but lets get a grip here. There was 24% voter turn out. 24% goddamn percent. You make it sound like the voters shunned the NDP en masse. 3 in 4 people in Toronto Centre didn't vote.

I bet good money that the polls where the NDP usually do well had turnouts below that 24% and those where the Greens did better (the richer part of the riding) the turnout was higher.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the NDP pointing out the Liberals shortcomings and their inactions.

Steve V said...

Two parties had good nights yesterday, neither of them is the NDP or Liberals.

Blogging Horse said...

Scott, if the NDP put four of its seats up in a byelection and lost one and bearly kept another, then ragging on the NDP would be fair game. But they didn't. Liberals did. Only one party lost seats last night was the Liberals. The only national party that hasn't picked up new ground since 2006 is the Liberals.

Oh, and the NDP knows precisely who the enemy is. That's why they put forward the first non-confidence motion of this parliament. Given their chance to defeat Harper on his environmental record, your "official opposition" abstained. Way to get tough on Harper.

Steve V said...

"Oh, and the NDP knows precisely who the enemy is. That's why they put forward the first non-confidence motion of this parliament."

Yes, the Liberals, and for anyone to claim that motion wasn't inspired by an opportunity to embarrass is just detached from reality. Let's keep it real. That said, I think the Liberals should have supported the NDP on that motion.

Blogging Horse said...

Steve, if you think the Liberals should have supported the NDP on that motion, is that not an aknowledgement that the motion had merit?

The Dippers were ready to force an election on Harper's environment record. It's an issue that Layton is strong on and would have been triggered over a bill that all parties had a hand in writing. It would have been a great issue for them - and even the Liberals - to go to the polls on.

Besides, not everything is about embarassing the Liberals. They do it well enough by themselves lately without needing any help from others.

Steve V said...

I'm just saying the timing of that motion was too cute by half, pretty transparent motivations. And yes, the Liberals don't need any help....

janfromthebruce said...

I have to say that liberals trying to pull off again, the victim card, just doesn't wash here.
Let's talk about motions intended to be cute by half - that one bashing the NDP and bloc for insisting that libs lost power because they voted non-confidence.
(of course it doesn't matter that the NDP didn't have the numbers to prevent the libs from falling but truth is not its strong suit here).

The environment, all parties except the cons could have embraced and run on. And saying that the NDP attacks libs 90% of the time, and plays into the myth that the NDP props up Cons, well we know by the fact, it is the NDP that votes against all confidence matters.

The libs need to be exposed for their hypercrisy, and their not progressive stances on the environment and economics.

I am waiting for the liberal redbook 3.

Lizt. said...

Will Jack Layton still be in a rush for an election after last night? He will never be PM, either! If liberals are angry, it is the way NDP have been treating them ...Harper is your enemy, not the Liberals.

Brian said...

For sale, party principles
Will sell own party principles for a chance at more seats in the house. Good condition, never used.
Also available for sale, one mother.
Call Jack Layton NDP

Malcolm+ said...

"If liberals are angry, it is the way NDP have been treating them."

Awww puddin'. Are we being mean to you?

Tell you what, puddin', if you stopped lying, we'd stop calling you liars. If you stopped stealing, we'd stop calling you thieves. If you'd govern the progressives you pretend to be at election time, we'd stop calling you hypocrites. And if you'd stop prop;ping up the Conservatives, we'd stop calling you cowards.

Now go get your bottle. It's time for your nap.

Blogging Horse said...

Well put, Malcolm. Poetic, even.

As for Brian, here's another tip: just like comedy, spin is best when there is a nugget of truth to it. Blaming Liberal losses on the NDP is just bad spin. Though it IS funny.

kewpi said...

I have to LOL now, when i see Dion flanked by Rae and Iggy.I see the knives sharpening