Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dr. Strangelove, or how the Liberals can win the next election

No, that's not meant to be a joke - the possibility exists, my dear fellows.

However, it's far from an easy task. Indeed, the mountain the Liberals need to clime is huge. Even to get back to our 2004 results, we need to bump up our raw vote from 3.6 million in 2008, back to about 5 million in 2004. That's a helluva lot of votes to scramble for just to get into a minority position.

But, it's not impossible. It just requires three things: organization, mobilization, and polarization.

Organization is one that we've worked well on so far, even if in incremental steps. We've increased our quarterly intake since 2008, with 2010's second quarter showing a 75% increase in the amount of money we bring in since 2008 - and that's a growing trend throughout all quarters. (I'd mention 2009's Q2, but that was skewed heavily by the May convention.) We may be sorely behind the Conservatives in funding, but we're outperforming many of the years before. With better funding, strong candidates (especially this one), and a better, more experienced team in the OLO, I think we've got this down.

Mobilization is obvious - we need to get our voters out there. With the new Liberalist program, an increased focus on GOTV operations and better presence by the Leader, our job will be easier. But in the end, it comes down to the riding associations to get their voters out to the polls, especially the advanced polling. Just looking through my own riding, we were killed in 2006 and 2008 - the two years we didn't win - in the advance polls. The Conservatives are notorious for getting their people out to the advance polls - let's take that advantage away from them, especially in marginal ridings like mine.

Polarization is the most controversial, and the hardest. If we want to win the next election, we need to show that we're the alternative. Not the NDP, the Bloc, or the Greens. The Liberals are the only viable alternative to the Conservatives, and the rest of these parties are simply sideshows along the road to Ottawa. Many of our former voters have gone to Layton's NDP and May's Greens because they find our policies lacking, our leaders silly, and our organization corrupt. Even if we don't manage to get back those votes we need from the Conservatives, both the NDP and the Greens have room to collapse.

That's evident with the fact that among both Green and NDP supporters, we're the plurality second choice. Take Ekos' numbers as you will - Lord knows I have enough criticisms - but it isn't exactly against common sense to think that they'll rush to the other centre-leftish party when their own parties aren't good enough for them. Given enough of a push, we can get them.

But that means we can't run around asking for a coalition. Co-operation is great, yes, but we don't necessarily need to come out expounding on it as the only way we can win. The Coalition as a pre-condition for the next Liberal government binds us to a detrimental obligation to form alliances with the NDP and etc., no matter the results. Even if we manage to miss all the landmines while tiptoeing through the Coalition field, most people will not see the difference between a strong party willing to co-operate with the other parties, and a weak one that is desperate to get into power, even with the help of minor and sometimes whack job parties.

What we must do is appeal to those voters that vote for these parties, not because they're tied down to them, but because they have policies that appeal to them.

The NDP hardly has a monopoly on some of the sensible economic decisions that they come up with. Given the fact that we are the ones who can actually implement them, all the better. Nor do they control social welfare ideas. Despite what anyone says, Canadian medicare was not a one-man show, either for Pearson or Douglas. We've also seen to improvements in welfare, education, access to workplace opportunities, and all sorts of good stuff. Expound on the record of social progress - especially in these times, when the the lines are blurred between us and the Conservatives on the economic front. Social issues, like healthcare and education, are areas we can easily take control of, both from the NDP, who are somewhat credible, and the Conservatives, who are not credible at all.

And obviously, the Greens do not have a monopoly on the environment. We saw during 2008 that our environmental plans, while maybe not presented in the best light possible, were generally accepted by the populace as both positive and workable. We're inherently a "green" party, and we need to show that. But, unlike the Greens, we know we need to balance this with economic opportunities - eg., the oil sands. That is an appealing message to Canadians, and I'm glad to see Ignatieff keeps driving it home.

I believe that if we follow these steps, we have an excellent shot at beating down the Conservatives. Even one of their favourable pollsters have the Conservatives on the decline. Canadians want an alternative, and we must show them that we are it.


  1. It's nice to see people being able to use the data at my website in their political analyses. Thank you, Volkov.

  2. I should be the one thanking you, Alice - you do a wonderful job with the website, and I suspect many would be loss without your ability to organize the information so well.

  3. I think you are over-simplifying the reasons that voters have left the LPC. I think many left after the sponsorship scandal for the obvious reasons coupled with the fact that the party had just been in power a long time and it ran out of steam as parties usually do after that long. But statistically voters didn't really leave the LPC for the NDP or the Greens (at least not in significant numbers). In Harper's second win both the Liberals and the Cons lost votes from their last election. But that had not significantly moved to the other parties. I think it was mostly voter apathy and the simple fact that Dion did not resonate with voters. I think the Liberals have to win a few voters back from the Cons and more generally win voters back to the political process in general. They could easily win if they brought a good number of people who didn't vote in the last election back into the process. The problem is that if this is true then they need to operate in a significantly new way and distinguish themselves from the Cons in both policy and operational values. But so far they are doing neither.

  4. I may over-simplify in my post, but only because to get into it is extremely complex; I presented what I thought was the general ideas that will help us win the next election. The devil is in the details.

    Also, its hard to drift away from the older operating molds, especially when they work. What is successful for the Conservatives is successful for a reason. Emulating it is not a bad thing; playing the same politics, to a point, is.

    However, as I said, Ignatieff is trying. He needs to try harder, no doubt. I think the introduction of new policies, a new shift in our focus (away from the economy towards what we can do on social issues) will give us an advantage. I think the sponsorship scandal has lost most of its steam, and I feel confident voters will forgive, especially if Iggy gives a newer, better accountability plan - one that actually works. ;)