Thursday, September 10, 2009

Iggy's Visceral Vote

There are two general ways of losing an election. The first is when voters disagree with the loser. The second is when voters seek to punish the loser.

Take Dion's recent loss for instance. His was a loss based on policy. His major plank - the green shift - although exciting to the fringe left, was not something that most Canadians saw as being central to our national affairs. Further, many disagreed with Dion's perceived style of leadership or lack thereof. But the last election was not about repudiating or punishing one or the other party.

Kim Cambell's loss, on the other hand, was a repudiation of the PC, not only by the left, but also by conservatives. Voters were in a punishing mood and the results were devastating. Punishment is visceral. It induces one directional concrete action against the offender. It is also easy to appreciate after-the-fact, but often difficult to discern before hand. I'll try to find a link to the actual polling, but I recall that Campbell's polling weeks out from the election was not even close to the actual result. They weren't great, but they weren't catastrophic either.

What about this election (assuming Iggy follows through)? Most polling and commentary point to a probable loss for Iggy. But what kind of loss will it be?

That this appears to be one of the few elections in our history where there are no major issues on the table, nearly ensures that the loss will be one of punishment and not disagreement.

Here is the paradox Iggy has created: It can't be one of disagreement if there's nothing to disagree about, and if there's nothing to disagree about why force an election? Voters won't simply be angry that they have to go to the polls so soon after the last election. They'll be angry that they're forced to do so for no discernible reason.

Iggy may be setting up the perfect visceral voting storm.


  1. Good points. Like I've said before, I'm a firm believer that emotions drive voters a heck of a lot more than logic. We saw those strong emotions last Dec., at the height of the Coalition kerfuffle--anger, disgust, fear for the future, etc. We polled at 35 % even in Quebec. It was only after the Quebec media spun Harper's "socialist/seperatist" rhetoric as being "anit-Quebec", that our numbers went down there.

    Anyway, a big challenge for each party, in EVERY election, is to motivate voters to actually get out and vote. Harper's got that figured out. Does Iggy ? Probably not. "A big Canada" doesn't exactly stir the emotions, like "socialists and seperatists cooking up a back room deal, and not telling voters up front".

    Calgary Junkie

  2. I think it was Charest attacking PMSH 14 times that lost us Quebec, more than the 'separatists want to split up Canada'.

    I don't see that as an issue this time, because Charest got his majority shortly after the fed election, and doesn't need to bash around the feds to look good.

  3. If we see Duceppe campaining outside of Quebec,we will know the coalition is on the table. His aim will be to see that the libs will need him to form a coalition.