Friday, March 4, 2011

Blue Whigs are moving to the Tories faster than the far left is moving to Ignatieff

A very interesting column from John Ibbitson in the Globe and Mail speculates that Stephen Harper's increasing support is coming from fiscally responsible Liberal voters at a greater rate than Ignatieff is siphoning votes from the NDP and Greens by moving his party to the left.

Ibbitson uses the term "Manley Liberals" for right-leaning Liberal voters, but I like "Blue Whigs" better.
Conflicting polls mask an emerging truth: As all parties contemplate a possible spring election, the numbers show the Liberal Party under Michael Ignatieff successfully draining support from the New Democratic and Green parties, just as it hoped to do.  
But it is paying a price, as John Manley Liberals defect to the Conservatives, increasing the chances that a spring election would return Stephen Harper as prime minister with a strengthened minority, or possibly even a majority, government.
Full article at the Globe and Mail


skippystalin said...

The obvious question is "why go to the Tories if you're fiscally conservative?" Not only has Harper given us stronomical deficits, he actually campaigned on getting rid of all the money.

First, he unloaded billions on the GST cut, which accomplished absolutely nothing, then he loaded up on unnecessary, if politically popular, social spending on babysitters and hockey sticks. In essence, he won a minority by promising to be a Liberal. And he was forthright about the promises before he won in 2006.

If nothing else, I can be reasonably sure that Ignatieff is lying about his spending policies. That can't be said of Harper, who now has a record of being allergic to money.

Moreover, anybody "Manley Liberals" saying that they're going to Harper before a writ is dropped is meaningless. The Tories' first job when an election is called will be to shore up the base, which means saying crazy shit about social issues.

If that doesn't compel your Blue Whigs to hold their noses and vote for Iggy, they'll probably just stay home. That will depress the grit vote, sure, but it doesn't necessarily translate into a Harper majority. Remember, this huy could score one from Dion, so I wouldn't bet on it now.

Richard said...

Interesting points, Skippy. A major factor in election voting, as reflected in our enjoyable discussions about Rob Ford, is that it's all a question of comparing. Ford has a base, but that base got expanded by a big margin because the alternative was so unappealing.

What's happened, as Ibbitson observed in his article, is that Harper has demonstrated that he's not a nutbar social conservative, so all the attempts to paint him as such by the far left is going to ring hollow with any voter that pays attention to reality.

Your point about Harper not being a genuine conservative when it comes to fiscal policies is not an unfair one, but you have to take the Canadian political landscape into account. I don't think it's unreasonable to consider Canada as a liberal (small 'l') country for the most part. Political pragmatism necessitates a certain type of spending in order to satisfy the mainstream here. The other reality is that compared to other countries, Canada has fared pretty well in the global economic climate of the last few years. Whether or not that's due to the good fortune of Canadian resources like oil which stands independent of government policy is immaterial for political purposes, since voters generally vote on the economy, and the economy is pretty good.

One of the factors that Ibbitson didn't mention in that article is simply the one of personality, which is always a big component of voter choice. Whatever you may think of Harper, Iggy and Layton are so personally uninspiring, that he comes off well in comparison.

skippystalin said...

I dunno. Tory candidates saying insane things about social issues cost the Conservatives a ten-point lead in '04. Crime and arts funding cuts killed the possibility of Harper winning another 10 seats - and a majority - in Quebec two years ago.

I've long said that Canada is a liberal country, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's fiscally liberal, as evidenced by Chretien winning a majority after draconian spending cuts.

But the main point is the Manley Liberals, who I thikn are far more likely to stay home than vote Harper, especially absent Liberal leadership infighting. And that's doubly true in Quebec, which Harper needs to pick up seats for a majority.