Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The State of Play in #TorDan

Announced this week, Toronto-Danforth voters will head to the polls on March 12th 19th to vote for a new MP after the death of NDP Leader Jack Layton, who had represented the riding since 2004 with ever-increasing percentages of the vote in four successive elections.

Eric Grenier created a pretty graph covering the Danforth's electoral history, but it's safe to say that this far out, we can call it a nominally safe NDP seat. While it was held by a Liberal not too long ago (well, almost a decade), the then-MP didn't hold on to it very well anyways, and it was always at risk of falling to the NDP when that party ended up surging from its <10% numbers of the 1990's. So let's not get our hopes up.

The current candidates for the by-election are as follows:

Craig Scott - NDP
Grant Gordon or Trifon Haitas - Liberals
Andrew Keyes - Conservatives
Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu - Greens
John Recker - Libertarians
Christopher Porter - Canadian Action Party (actually he's their leader)

February 9th is the date of the Liberal nomination meeting, and only Grant Gordon and Trifon Haitas are declared candidates. Not the "star candidates" everyone was throwing rumours about for, but there's a few reasons for that, none of them really doing with the Liberal's inability to attract high-profile candidates. We still have two quality candidates in the form of two small business owners in the media/communications field. Similar to what CPC candidate Andrew Keyes is, so shove it Conservatives.

Let's say one thing right now: this is not the Liberal's to lose, this is the Liberal's to gain. For all the bru-ha-ha out of the PMO about how the Danforth is a "historically Liberal riding," it's not. It's historically a Liberal-NDP fight. Guess which party is in ascendance right now, and guess which one is in decline. How this riding becomes ours to lose when we haven't held it in nearly a decade I don't know.

But let's consider how we can win this riding. Where would Liberals need to focus? Where are the Liberal-friendly constituencies? Let's see:

Right off the bat from this map you can see where the Liberals in 2011 did the, erm, "best" - Greek Town and the the northern area between the DVP and Danforth Ave, plus a few polls in the south near Leslieville and what's named "East Chinatown" (Broadview and Gerrard).

Going back to 2008's somewhat-respectable result, when the Liberals actually won polls, we won them in these areas. So it's clear where Liberal-friendly people are, the question is whether or not we can get them to vote Liberal again.

That depends somewhat on the candidate, of course. Grant and Trifon are both excellent candidates and they're local. Trifon is Greek - goes over well in Greek Town, I assume - and Gordon has amusing political ads that I've come to appreciate. Whoever the candidate is, they need to be ready to storm these areas and give the residents of Toronto-Danforth reason to vote Liberal again.


  1. The Liberals certainly screwed this one up.

  2. Well they've gone around for months saying they would put up a strong fight to win the seat, they criticized the NDP candidate for being a nobody and said they'd run a big name in the riding, but when push came to shove they couldn't pull it off. Now the by election has been called and their choices in candidates is a businessman and a former Green candidate. Grant Gordon will be the candidate but unless the NDP really screw up his chances of winning are slim. He should have been nominated back in Novemver, or earlier. The party seems to be lost when it comes to the ground war.

  3. People hype things up for the sake of hyping things up, it's called being positive... but the fact is that the media drove a lot of the speculation, and anyone with a brain knew that the Liberals weren't going to waste a star candidate in a riding they were likely going to lose. I mean that "anyone with a brain" part too.

    No party had their nominations in November, and I doubt Gordon or Haitas were considering their chances then either. Plus we didn't even know up until January whether we would need to set up new arrangements for candidate nominations in the Party. Give us a break.

    Plus if our chances are so slim, what would the difference have been? Very little, if any.

    And whatever you may think you know about ground wars, dispel it because you haven't a clue until you worked on one of our campaigns in an active riding. I'm not saying its perfect, it's far from it, but we're learning and we're improving. That's all that matters.

    Go be sour somewhere else.

  4. Well George Smitherman, who was a big name that was asked to run, was in charge of finding a candidate. He said they'd have a big name, why said you'd have a big name if you could not pull it off? The riding was definitely a potential pickup, before the last election it was historically a close race. Winnipeg North was a riding that had even stronger NDP roots and the Liberals won it in a byelection and held it in the election, if the can do it in WN why not TD.

    As for not knowing how the candidate was going to be selected doesn't really make any sense. Rules were in place of how to select a candidate and they could have been used, the byelection could have been called before the convention. The NDP have basically had a month of campaigning by themselves and this will just solidify their win. Plus the convention was several weeks ago, the nomination meeting could have been called days after it. If the party isn't going to try and win every seat, particularly in byelections, then they'll have a tough time making a comeback.

  5. Winnipeg North is a VERY special case - Kevin Lamoureux was lucky he got a weak candidate in Rebecca Blaikie in the 2011GE.

    Toronto-Danforth is very different. It's demographically an NDP riding; it's historically a strong NDP-competitive riding; it's last MP was Jack Layton, not a sub-standard MP like Judy W-L. And if you haven't noticed, the Liberals are averaging below 25% in the polls that often over-estimate Liberal support. If this that is considered a "potential pick-up" on the basis of those factors alone, no wonder voters abandoned us - we're clearly insane.

    And what is Smitherman going to say? This is politics - reality has no right to exist within its boundaries most of the time, especially when you're talking to the press. Keep expectations high.

    Part of the idea was to see if the whole "supporters" thing would pass through. This is just how I see it, maybe I'm wrong, but its likely the brass wanted to see what would happen before we rushed headlong into a campaign. Plus, had the election been called before December, it wouldn't have been an issue would it?

    I'm not saying the Liberals are the quickest bunch ever, but there's nothing wrong with the strategy so far. Were expectations raised high? Yes, but it only gets out of hand because the media runs with this shit like there's no tomorrow. The serious people know we're the underdogs - do you really believe the Conservatives when they say it's the "Liberal's riding to lose?"

    As I see it the TD Liberals are doing their jobs, getting ready for a long campaign that we're going to try and win, as we do with every riding. They've done their jobs just fine. So has the LPC. I'm satisfied, and trust me I don't get a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of the Party at all times.

  6. The Liberals should stop looking at polls, that's been your problem. But if we are looking at polls they've also shown the Liberals up in Ontario and the NDP down.

    What should Smitherman have said, hmm... Maybe not lie. Be honest and say be are looking for a strong candidate, he criticized the NDP for getting someone with no electoral experience. If a defeated Green Party candidate is his idea of electoral experience then that's just pitiful.

    Plus the Liberals have not put their effort into every byelection. They've taken many for granted because they don't think they can win. Just as they do in general elections. Liberals seem to either not try because they think people are entitled to vote for them in certain ridings or they don't try because history is not on their side. This is why that in less then a decade they've lost well over 100 seats.

  7. Actually, the NDP aren't down in Ontario - they're averaging what they got in May, 25-26% (except the most recent Nanos poll, which meh to that). The Liberals are up because of a Conservative drop.

    I can't defend what Smitherman said except in the fact that he raised expectations - that was his job. Doesn't mean he "lied" any more than any politician lies. It's supposed to be rah-rah, not boo-hoo.

    I'd like to point out as well that maybe 81 Metcalfe gives up, but the local ridings do not. And the TD Liberals are very active on this front. That riding should, in all honesty, be absolutely dead given what it is and where it is. There are ridings out there with a lot more winnability that are absolutely dead. So moan about the LPC if you want, but the TD Liberals are doing their jobs, straight fact.

    And enough with the "arrogance" routine - all parties are arrogant in their own way. The Liberal problem was the disconnection with its grassroots and being crippled by financial restrictions. Connecting with voters and adapting to how things are going to be done now is what we're doing and how we'll win, when we win. Just takes effort, and I've yet to see a Liberal out there not willing to make it. So you better believe we'll try in this riding.

    But it doesn't mean we ignore reality. Only the suicidal waste too many resources on fights that don't matter, be it financial or a star candidate. It'd be death by a thousand cuts - not being strategic, especially when you don't have that much to spread around, gets you in worse places. Put in the effort, but be smart. Liberals practice this too.