Will There be an Election in 2011?
There has been a lot of talk recently about whether or not there will be a spring election in the new year. Many believe the parties are gearing up for an election, and we will most definitely be going to the polls in the spring, or even earlier. But what is interesting about this discussion, is who would actually pull the plug on the current government and for what reasons. Some polls have shown that the Conservatives should be eager to jump into a campaign, as they have opened a large lead on the Liberals. Other polls show that the Liberals and Conservatives are in a dead heat, therefore Michael Ignatieff would be the one who is interested in an election. Then there are other sources that say nobody wants an election. Huh?
Nanos Research, which does a lot of polling, has the Conservatives at 38% and the Liberals at 31%. While this is not quite enough for a majority, the Conservatives would be darn close and if they run a good campaign (don’t laugh, they have done it) they could push themselves over the majority mark. Meanwhile the Liberals would likely make up some ground from 2008, but not what they would ultimately like to see.
Meanwhile, other polls have the two parties in a dead heat as we head into Christmas and the new year. Harris-Decima states the Conservatives are at 31% and the Liberals are at 29%, a statistical tie. This is obviously not what the Conservatives want to see, as they would be in danger of losing many seats, and possibly government.
So what should be believe? Well I personally put more credibility into the Nanos Research poll. They seem to have the most accurate polling of any of the companies (as accurate as one can get). It is important to note that the Nanos poll came out on December 6, while the Harris-Decima is more recent. We all know much can change in a short time period.
In 2011, I think the Liberals should still be hesitant to call a snap election, unless polls are consistently showing them ahead of the Conservatives. Michael Ignatieff has never run a national campaign, so this will be a difficult test for him. He has to be very careful when he presses the button, because it can easily determine his fate as party leader. The Conservatives appear to be gearing up for an election either way, as they have pressed donors to give them money ASAP. The Liberals have to be cautious, as they have so far been unable to best the big blue machine when it comes to fundraising. The party is still trying to recover from the Dion leadership debacle.
Ignatieff is still troubled by the fact that he consistently polls behind Stephen Harper and Jack Layton as who would make the best Prime Minister. Obviously, he is the most inexperienced leader of the three, but it still poses a challenge for he and the party. He has to stand up and make himself known as the future Prime Minister of Canada (something that is difficult to do when Bob Rae is running around playing piano and singing, a la Stephen Harper). Rae is, in my opinion, the stronger of the two individuals and would make a much more effective leader. Nevertheless, Ignatieff is at the helm, so he has to steer the ship and get the electorate to trust him.
Meanwhile, the story is unchanged for third, fourth and fifth places. The NDP, Bloc and Greens all sit in largely the same position they did in 2008. The NDP likely would lose some seats, as would the Bloc if a campaign was initiated soon.
Our last election in October of 2008 seems so distant now, and 2006 seems ages ago. It is funny to think that this January, Stephen Harper will have been Prime Minister for five years. A full two years has gone by without an election. This has helped to quell some of the fatigue that has emerged in the electorate for voting, but there is no doubt most Canadians would rather not be dragged through another campaign.
In conclusion, how would you feel about a spring election? Do you put any credibility into these polls, especially since they have been so opposite recently? Which party stands to gain the most if there was an election? Who will lose the most?