Monday, October 22, 2007
Are people giving Harper a bad rap with polls?
I keep hearing people suggest that Canadians are still unsure of Harper because his polling numbers have yet to break through the 40% mark, which is generally considered the beginning of majority territory.
Yet the thing that people overlook — but Harper hasn't — is the fact that any party today will have trouble reaching that 40% barrier. Harper admitted as much recently when he questioned the utility of an election because it would produce a minority either way. He's right.
There are two things preventing a majority for both the Liberals and the Conservatives.
One is the still strong presence of the Bloc in Quebec. As long as they're still a top choice in dozens of ridings in the province, the other federalist parties will be battling each other to become the other top choice, too.
The other barrier to majorities is the comeback of a competitive electoral landscape in Ontario. The most overlooked fact of recent federal politics is that the only way Liberals got majorities was to essentially sweep almost every seat in the country's most seat-rich province.
Once Harper merged the two parties on the right, that monopoly of seats in Ontario ended, and so did the Liberal stranglehold on majorities.
In fact, he's got a better chance of getting that majority than the Liberals do — by a country mile. He has a presence in every region of the country, while the Liberals are going nowhere in the prairies, and have become isolated in the major urban centres almost everywhere else.
Try to remember some of this the next time someone tries to tell you that a failure to get majority polling numbers is a sign of continuing weakness. In fact, getting close is going to be a challenge for both parties moving forward. That Harper is getting close should be a serious source of concern for all his opponents. Believe it.