Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Morning After St. Patrick's Day: By-Election Thoughts

So as I said last night, I still think it was a good night. One thing is for sure the mood in the Liberal party and on Liberal blogs on March 18 is nothing like we saw on September 18 of last year.

So here are the results and how they compare to to last time out (my thoughts below):

Toronto Centre
Liberal - 59.2% (+7.0%), NDP - 13.8% (-9.9%), Green - 13.6% (+8.4%), Cons - 12.5% (-5.7%)

Liberal - 59.4% (+4.2%), Cons - 30.1%(+0.7%), Green - 5.8% (+1.7%), NDP - 4.8% (-6.6%)

Desneth√©—Missinippi—Churchill River
Cons - 47.8% (+6.7%) , Liberal - 31.4% (-10.3%), NDP - 17.6% (+2.3% - Jack Layton's silver lining!), Green - 3.2% (+2.6%)

Vancouver Quadra
Liberal - 36.1% (-12.7%), Cons - 35.5% (+6.5%), NDP - 14.4% (-1.7%), Green Party - 13.5% (+8.4%)

So first of all you can see the Liberals are in great shape in Ontario and I think are poised to pick up seats there. Martha and Bob will also make excellent additiosn to the House. As well, these results show that Rae and Martha Hall Findlay will be able to travel the country promoting the Liberal team and the Liberal brand during an election campaign. It will be an excellent counter to Stephen Harper's complete absence of a team.

You can also see here that Jim Flaherty's war on Ontario and Harper's neglect of Toronto has not paid off whatsoever. The Conservatives need to be picking up seats or at least be dramatically increasing their vote in places like Toronto and they did not. Jim Flaherty sounded so optimistic the morning of the elections, let's see what he says now. They can't spin this as just being due to star candidates as they've disparaged them so much, especially Bob Rae, saying he'd be remembered for his time as Premier and voters would punish him accordingly. Nice spin guys, let's see what you try next.

And then there's the NDP competing with Greens for 2nd or 3rd place in ridings where the NDP is supposed to play well. You can see the NDP vote collapse above.

How will Jack spin this?

Will he now finally realize his strategy of attacking the Liberals 90% of the time and giving the odd token criticism to the Government is failing miserably (if you doubt that's what they were doing, check out BC'ers post on the flyers they used in Toronto Centre, payed off handsomely didn't it?).

Will Jack now realize that, at least in Ontario, his nearest rival is not the Liberals but the Greens? If March 18 is a reversal of how Liberals felt on September 18, the same can surely be said for the NDP. I'm just waiting for the spin on this one...

So Ontario is a clear victory for the Liberals, a great showing the Greens and poor showings for the Cons and Dippers.

Saskatchewan though not so much, I was sad to see Joan Beatty lose. It can't be called anything other than a loss, but some perspective is needed. This was not a Liberal stronghold and the Liberals lost the riding by 8% in 2004 and still won the election so it's not a bellweather riding either.

That said, the Liberals also have to learn lessons from losses. First of all, we need to make sure we have better GOTV efforts in Sask. next time. As well, I think everyone now can agree that if an appointment is going to take place it should be well known in advance. I don't think Orchard and Co. handled this situation well though and if it comes to be shown all of his supporters sat on their hands I don't think that will exactly endear him to the party. We'll see though, but I think Dion knows how to handle appointments in the future and will use them appropriately. As Cherniak noted, Martha Hall Findlay was appointed and won huge, so I don't think appointments are wrong (especially to meet Dion's noble targets of having more female candidates), but they have to be done right and I'm sure they will be from now on.

And I have to say I am pleased that the 4 seats vacated by men are now being filled by two women. It's a long way to go to gender equality but Dion is helping us get there.

And then there's Vancouver Quadra. Some perspective needed as well. Multiple term incumbents almost always do better than the candidates that replace them, so it was not reasonable to expect Joyce Murray to pull out the same kind of victory. I'm sure she will impress in the House of Commons and win by a large margin next time. Still it was closer than I would have expected. But a win is a win but some lessons are still called for. First of all, Liberals lost a lot of votes to the Greens. Perhaps Elizabeth May ironically will help us win them back in teh general camapaiang, but we can't be complacent there in earning back those Green votes across the country.

I also agree with what Calgary Grit said that the Liberals are in excellent shape in Ontario, but may need to focus more efforts out West. We won so that's good, but we can't take our ridings in BC for granted next time and need to make sure we pull out the vote (after all turnout was abysmal). I know we will and I think while Stephen Harper wages a one man show next campaign, the Liberal team will be touring the country building support. We'll have them in BC, in Quebec and in Saskatchewan promoting Stephane Dion and the Red Book, while Harper will just coast from one city to the next, hoping his fear factory and scripts from Sandra Buckler to his local candidates can do the rest of the work.

I think the Liberals have the winning strategy here and I look foward to the next campaign.

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ALW said...

Ah yes. Once again, "Toronto" equals "Ontario" in the Liberal mind.

By all means, proceed under this assertion. You may end up unpleasantly surprised.

MississaugaJoan said...

Sorry, I don't see where Calgary Grit says anything that resembles "that the Liberals are in excellent shape in Ontario". In Toronto, yes, but the rest of Ontario is still an unknown.

Danielle Takacs said...

Well I would not say Toronto Centre is representative of the rest of Ontario but you have to remember that Willowdale is not a tradionally left-of-centre riding. It went for Mike Harris' party in 1990 (when the NDP won) and then again in 1995, and 1999 with over 50% of the vote going PC.

The Liberals getting 60% there is no small feat and they don't need to get anywhere near those margins in other parts of Ontario to pick up seats. I don't think they will do 7% better than in 2006 in every riding in Ontario, but I do think the Willowdale results bode well.

It is also reasonable to conclude that the NDP is in trouble when they are battling the Greens for second or third in places where they thought they were going to get a more receptive audience. Having the NDP forced to battle the Greens will help the Liberals too. So everyone has something to be happy about last night except the NDP.

Scott Tribe said...

I see ALW is continuing his Liberal blogging trolling tour today. He's been quite busy everywhere.