Archive for October, 2008

Debate Polls and Reflections

The immediate results are on for both debates and it looks like Harper has lost some ground.  He was the clear loser in the Quebec debate with polls picking Dion and Duceppe as the winner.  53% of the viewers of the French debate had a dimmer view of Harper.  Contrasting that with a big boost for Dion with 67% saying their view of Dion improved.  Jack Layton and Elizabeth May both improved their stature considerably.

The English debate looks different.  While Harper was considered the winner his victory has to be tempered by the reality that only 31% of the viewers considered him the victor.  That is 5-9% lower than the Conservatives are polling right now.  25% thought Jack won which is notable because that is 5% higher than his poll numbers.  17% thought Elizabeth May won which is well above where the Greens are polling.  Dion comes in at 15% which is a good 10% lower than where he is polling. 

May won the “improved impressions” category with a net 53% of viewers saying their impressions of her improved.  That was well ahead of Layton at +25% and Dion at +11%.  More people came a way with a negative impression of Harper as he clocked in at -10%. 

Both Allan Gregg and Andrew Coyne said they believed May won the debate.  They most likely believed she won in the sense that she gained the most from where she started.  I thought May did very well and so did Jack Layton.  Jack seemed more sincere at times than he has in the past.  Sadly I think Dion’s English will forever hinder his chances of becoming PM.  In his best English he can be clear, rational and intellectually convincing.  However he can’t connect emotionally with people in the same say Layton or even May can. 

Unless something stunning happens I think we are in for a Conservative minority much in the fashion we have had.  Unless we see the prospect of a Harper majority I believe the Green vote will hold.   I don’t see the Liberals gaining much and we will see another Liberal leadership race.  I dearly hope the Greens can pick up a seat and build on their momentum. 

We will have to see if Harper can find his platform in his sweater.

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Live blogging the debate at Bene’s place

This is kind of exciting for me.  I’ve never live blogged, or co-blogged anything.  Feel free to check out my completely “unbiased” perspective on tonight’s english debate over here.

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French Debate reflections

The French debate was an improvement over past debate.   I like the new format around the table.  To me it seemed less adversarial than the podiums.  It gave me the impression of a dialog, or a least a great big family argument.

It is sad but I think Dion comes across much better when someone else translates his words.  An Ipsos-Reid poll found him to be the clear winner and I can understand that.  He defended his policy well and looked much more forward thinking than his main adversary across the table.

Ms. May was clearly the “newbie” in this setting.  That doesn’t mean she didn’t perform up to some modest expectations.  French definitely isn’t her strong suit.  At one point she become so exasperated by Harper’s rhetoric about his environmental plan she blurted out in English “Give me a break, That’s ridiculous. I’m sorry, that’s a joke.”  Fortunately she didn’t come across as some looney tunes super idealist that so many people think she is.  She will come across much more forcefully in English.  As long as she remembers to speak slow enough for people to understand her I think she can only build on to the modest base she brings to the table.

Duceppe was good as usual.  Jack Layton was Jack Layton.  I didn’t see a lot different from him, although he did seem pretty sincere in his praise of Mr. Dion.  I get the impression that he likes Dion far more than he liked Paul Martin.

The big loser in the debate was Harper.  It was clear that he was ganged up on by the other four.  In previous debates with 5 leaders (back in the day of the Refoooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm party) there was more barbs and jabs between the opposition parties.  This time around the opposition were unified against the PM.  When Harper defended a particular policy and was answered by unrelenting criticism from all sides it made him look like the odd one out.  He kept his cool but sometimes he looked smug and his smile was forced.

There were a couple of issues in which I thought Harper looked particularly bad.  I think Dion scored a lot of points on Harper with his purposed action plan on the economy.  Harper continued to reiterate his stand that Canada’s fundamentals are strong but I don’t think that reassures a lot of Canadians who watched their RRSPs drop precipitously in the last few weeks.  While I don’t think Harper was lying he really isn’t conveying the whole story.  As the old adage says “when America sneezes, Canada gets a cold” and right now the Americans are debating whether they should transplant a major organ.  It seems really irresponsible to cruise along as if nothing is wrong holding fast to the idea that a two percent cut in the GST and a 2 billion dollar surplus will save us from any economic harm.  I think Dion scored even more points on the issue of the dwindling surpluses under the Harper government.  I know I’d feel a lot better if the government had a 10-12 billion dollar cushion that they could use at anytime to shore things up.

The other issue of weakness for Harper was the environment.  The Conservative plan is a fraud and everyone at that table knew it.  While Harper might get some traction projecting the other plans as unachievable, the opposition got more traction portraying the Conservative plan as ineffectual. 

The big highlight of the debate for me was the section about energy and fuel prices.  While Harper was droning on about his GST cut Dion talked about the ever present reality of world oil demand and resource scarcity.  It was the closest acknowledgement of peak oil I’ve ever seen in a major politician. I was overjoyed when I saw this.  He gave us the honest truth that we need to become more efficient by using less fuel.  I found myself saying “exactly, exactly, EXACTLY, EXACTLY!”  Dion is miles and miles ahead of Harper on this issue.  Harper’s energy policy is out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.

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