a weekly blog for all interested in professional communications issues

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A few surprises in election’s 1st week

When the election writ dropped, most of us thought Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was dead man walking. What a surprise the first 10 days have been.

Aside from an initial mistake in which Iggy waffled on the coalition question, the Liberal leader has turned in a very solid performance.

He now looks comfortable in front of crowds. When the Liberals announced their platform over the weekend, their leader, speaking without notes, turned the event into a giant infomercial.

The latest Liberal Red Book of promises may have its critics. But the Liberals have managed to change the focus of the campaign away from the Tories’ scare stories about a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

Harper, on the other hand, is an enigma. In the 2008 campaign, Harper managed to soften his image with all those regular-guy shots of him in a blue sweater vest. This campaign, the comfy sweater shots are gone and the Prime Minister is looking very cross and angry.

His harum-scarum talk of coalitions has turned out to be a bust. A growing number of Canadians now think a coalition government wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Harper foolishly challenged Iggy to a one-on-one debate from which, as the frontrunner, he would not have benefited. After Iggy replied with a quick ``any time, anywhere,’’ Harper backed off. That prompted a couple of political cartoons depicting him as a chicken -- literally.

Then were a series of embarrassing disclosures for which Harper was clearly unprepared, most notably the ongoing Bruce Carson saga. Despite five convictions of fraud, Carson somehow got hired as the Prime Minister’s right hand man.

Furthermore since the weekend, there has been a litany of embarrassing incidents in which Tory organizers have kicked people with suspected Liberal connections out of rallies involving Harper. One of those frog marched out of a rally was a young woman who happened to have a photo of herself with Iggy on her Face book page.

So let’s get this straight. Someone attending a Conservative party rally is vetted very carefully. A person with a criminal record working in the Prime Minister’s Office? Not so much.

All in all, Harper has looked like he is not enjoying this campaign. And his performance has been underwhelming.

Yet, the Tories enjoyed continue to maintain a strong lead in the polls. If anything it may be increasing and Harper may be on his way to finally winning a majority government.

However, the latest three-day rolling poll reported by Nik Nanos has started to show that lead is shrinking. So the Tories’ campaign troubles may catch up with them yet.

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