Friday, April 22, 2016

Donald Trump's path to Republican nomination looking clearer


New York, New York.

The state in which Donald Trump started his real estate empire gave his Republican presidential nomination bid a much-needed boost on Tuesday.

A huge boost. One of the greatest boosts anyone has ever seen. You wouldn't believe how big of a boost it was.

You can read the rest of my analysis on where Trump stands in the Republican nomination here.

The Pollcast: The politics and priorities of Canada's youth


A traditionally neglected cohort of voters may have tipped the scales in favour of the Liberals in last year's federal election, according to a new poll. If so, what does that mean for the political future of Canada's youth?

A new survey conducted by Abacus Data in partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations found that the Liberals won the support of the youngest voters by a significant margin — enough to have potentially been decisive in the Liberals' majority victory.

But if the Liberals have the youth vote today, what will it take for the governing party to keep that vote into the future?

Joining me to discuss the politics and priorities of Canada's youth is David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.

You can listen to the latest episode of the Pollcast here.

Selinger defeat reduces NDP governments down to one — again


With the defeat of Greg Selinger's Manitoba New Democrats on Tuesday, only one province in Canada is now governed by the NDP.

But the significance of this shouldn't be exaggerated. In fact, it is not at all unusual for the NDP to be holding power in only one provincial capital — indeed, the last time that happened was less than one year ago.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Brian Pallister's Manitoba PCs win record-breaking victory


The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives under Brian Pallister won a majority government in a historic fashion Tuesday night, putting up some of the biggest numbers by any party in the province's history.

In the process, the PCs ended the long reign of the Manitoba New Democrats, in office since 1999, as the NDP's vote collapsed in every part of the province.

You can read the rest of this results analysis here.

Six months in, Justin Trudeau's Liberals still riding high in polls


Six months after winning a majority government in last year's federal vote, the Liberals continue to poll above their showing on election night. But is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's honeymoon with voters over?

Short answer: no.

Long answer? Well, still no. In fact, there are very few negative indicators for Trudeau's Liberals in the polls in this early stage of their four-year mandate. But there are some signs that the Liberals may face some headwinds in the future.

You can read the rest of this article here.

31 comments:

  1. Political honeymoons are of reasonably predictable duration and scope.

    This isn't a honeymoon. This is just the state of things now. And it makes sense. The total for all the parties has to add up to 100%, and look at the rest of them. The Bloc and Greens are where they've been for years. The Tories are also fairly stable, but slightly depressed from their historical norms (likely the result of them being leaderless, and possibly lingering fallout from being defeated (unlikely) or Stephen Harper (more likely, but that should dissipate with a vigorous leadership race).

    No, the thing that changed was the collapse of the NDP. Trudeau's Liberals were simply well-positioned to take advantage of that, and no one else was. There was nowhere else for those votes to go, and Trudeau did a fine job of making his party look approachable in a way it hadn't in decades. He's basically Lester Pearson in a more favourable political environment.

    The thing for which Trudeau does deserve credit, though, is for keeping this going so far. The conditions in the election that lead to his victory were largely caused by others, but he took advantage of it by presenting an appealing alternative. But the real triumph is in how his governance so far has been largely consistent with that electoral narrative. The Trudeau government is, so far, exactly what it said it would be. Trudeau's sunny ways are real. Trudeau's open demeanour persists (even as his government continues the Harper trend of total opacity).

    No, until something else changes, Trudeau's government is going to stay right where it is - well ahead in the polls.

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  2. Meantime the CPC desperately needs a new media strategy. They are still stuck in their failed message of "not ready", "selfie" and "the hair". Two years ago those were not unreasonable angles to attack Trudeau's candidacy. But 24 months and an election later, it is clear the message didn't take.

    So does the CPC go back to the drawing board and redraft a new media campaign? No, they stick to the same failed message, like a fly going against a window over and over hoping that the next time somehow they will magically push through.

    They should ask for a refund for all th monies spent by their media team and assemble a new one with fresh ideas about how to be an effective opposition to JT. Because as it is, the young prime minister is simply running the tables.

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    1. For now, letting Trudeau run free isn't a bad idea. He's incredibly popular and years away from an election.

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    2. PolStats,

      That's what you get when you can no longer rely on Harper to take care of everything. An addiction, that will be hard to break -- and painful to watch.

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    3. At this point the Tories need to leave Justin alone. The whole "not ready" campaign is starting to hold true with the strange EI debacle in Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, Selling 15 billion dollars of armaments to Saudi Arabia-Sunny way indeed unless you are an advocate for democracy! Tax-payer funded nannies. A deficit that has ballooned from 10 billion to perhaps 30 billion or more! We're six months and three scandals separated from the election! At this rate Trudeau will be giving Mulroney a run for his money as least popular PM while in office. Let the old maxim play out: Oppositions don't defeat government, Government's defeats Governments. Trudeau is well on his way to proving the correctness of this old adage once again. Let Trudeau run free he is bound to do more damage to his popularity than robust partisan criticism.

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    4. To continue on the long list of gaffes from the conservative campaign back in January conservative commentators couldn't wait to decry the bailout of Bombardier while poor Alberta was being ignored. Guess what? here we are in late April two months after Alberta got a cash lifeline and EI changes from the PM, while the Bombardier money is still in limbo and may never materialize since BBD seems to be in no mood to compromise. Score another one for the PM, assisted by the premature CPC campaign.

      Similarly with the deficit. Conservative commentators and the CPC leadership jumped on the LPC for having a deficit. This is bad strategy in so many levels. First it is extraordinarily tone deaf. In the last election we had two similar left platform positions, one without deficit (Mulcair) and one with deficit (Trudeau) and we choose Trudeau. So yes, we know JT's budget has a deficit. That's why we voted for him. Additionally the LPC built safety margins much like Paul Martin used to do, so the more you highlight the deficit today, the better JT will look when a year from now the deficit comes in much lower than expected. But the CPC and commentators couldn't hold back and wait until the final deficit figure comes in a year from now (interestingly they might yet post a surplus for 2015-2016).

      Lastly, all the criticisms about hair, selfies and yoga poses. This is like a parent criticizing their daughter's boyfriend because he has tattoos, while the daughter internally is thinking "Doesn't he looks cool with all those tats on him? All my girlfriends are jealous". So by reminding people of his youthful demeanor (Trudope, Zoolander, the hair, PM selfie) they achieve the exact opposite effect of what they intended to do. People like the change in style after a closeted PM who wouldn't even give press conferences. They like the easy going attitude just like 40 years ago they enjoyed the pirouette by his father behind the Queen. The more you hit on this point, the more the enamored Canadian public goes "isn't he just so cool?"

      All of this from the same media team who couldn't figure out that a PM who's been in office for 12 years needs to run on his record instead of his opponent flaws. A campaign team that was unable to change gears when it became clear things were not going well. It simply doubled down in its negative message, down to cavorting with the Ford brothers, rather than drafting a message of hope.

      So long as this team remains in place we'll continue to see headlines like the one above.

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    5. Polstats,

      To claim Canadians voted for Trudeau's $30 billion (and perhaps more deficit) is disingenuous to be polite. Justin trudeau promised: "The Liberal fiscal plan would see "a modest short-term deficit" of less than $10 billion for each of the first three years and then a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year". We now know the deficit will be roughly three times larger than promised and extend far longer into the future than three years. At least five years and maybe more. So it is simply not the truth that Canadians voted for $30 billion plus deficits, such deficits were not offered by any party but, imposed by the new Government. You are right with a $6 billion safety margin (double the safety net Paul Martin and the Tories used) there is every hope the deficit will be somewhat smaller than forecast-why the are pro-actively fudging the numbers suggests their commitment toward financial transparency does not totally give up on opacity at least on fiscal matters.

      Obviously I hit a nerve. As Andrew Coyne writes today: "the Liberals are building up a deficit of trust and ethics to match the fiscal deficit". The problem is not the Liberal Party-it's Liberals.

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    6. "Obviously I hit a nerve."

      Nope, I wrote my reply before your post appeared. I do agree that Canadians didn't vote for a $30 billion deficit, but neither were they wedded to a $10 billion one on the face of a worsening economy.

      So in principle, they could have been upset by the increase. But guess what? they weren't and JT continues to be incredibly popular.

      A good media manager studies this before committing their party to an attack that has no impact.

      Andrew Coyne's column is a perfect example of a jump-the-gun, year-too-early attack on JT. As I said, I fully expect JT to sooner or later screw really big. Save your ammo for when that happens. It's basic strategy 101. Yet the current conservatives pundits/media message do not seem to have the discipline to hold their fire until it actually makes a difference.

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    7. it's Coyne's inevitable whine that's so annoying. JT doesn't do something quickly enough and Coyne whines. Does it to fast and Coyne whines. Basically Coyne is negative to everything but Harper. Try ignoring him.

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    8. "I do agree that Canadians didn't vote for a $30 billion deficit, but neither were they wedded to a $10 billion one on the face of a worsening economy".

      That would be fine if the economy was contracting or shrinking however, the economic data show a growing economy. It grew .06% in the fourth quarter of 2015 and .02% in the first quarter of 2016. So Canadians didn't vote for that and the messaging coming from Liberals is at odds with reality and the Bank of Canada-Why are Liberals engaged in manufacturing a problem that is not there-is it to obfuscate and hide the litany of errors they make on our behalf daily? It is far removed from the Transparency Justin promised.

      Obviously the Liberals have good spin doctors because they are already doctoring the books by holding in reserve a more than generous amount to cover cost overruns or unintended expenses-$6 billion or .03% of GDP is not only excessive because we have a deficit this years it needlessly costs tax payers money since, we are over-borrowing for no apparent benefit. If the money is not used it is still borrowed-it is indebtedness for the sake of indebtedness and M. Trudeau promised the increased debt we would incur would be used for infrastructure-the extra borrowing is about as far away from infrastructure as could be imagined. Canadians may not be upset at this poor management now but, their increasing deficits will come home to roost and these deficits are all Trudeau's-he can't blame them on a poor economy-because the economy is growing, he can't blame it on needed infrastructure investment-because he's not investing and he can't blame it on needed program spending to help the poor or needy because those worthy groups are seeing no rise in the programs or service funding. Trudeau is borrowing for partisan political purposes so that his deficits look to magically shrink. He may have removed partisanship from the Senate but, if the trade-off is pre-emptive hyper-partisanship on fiscal matters instead it is a poor trade. It doesn't matter if the impact is not immediate the election is a long time away, it is a cumulative process a slow drip, a collection of gaffes that erode the credibility of a once youthful and hopeful prime minister, the slow eroding changing Trudeau from a man of trust to a man who can not be trusted. Fortunately, for the opposition parties they need not spend money advertising this change Trudeau is doing more than enough damage to his reputation and record on his own.

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    9. You are arguing whether or not is good policy to presently run a $30 billion deficit. I'm making a completely different argument: whether or not is good campaign strategy to criticize this choice at the present time.

      Let me give you a simple (simplistic?) example: the major of Calgary might hypothetically decide that a more active cultural and night life would be good for the city. This is a fine policy decision. Now an altogether different question is if a good way to make this point is to stand in the middle of the Calgary stampede and scream "Calgary sucks!".

      Ditto for the deficit. There is a contet in which this discussion takes place. This contet should guide tone, means and arguments behind the attack. My claim is that the present tone of the CPC anti JT campaign is amateurish in the etreme and, much like you, seems cannot tell the difference between effective policy and effective message managing.

      Numbers and polls are very useful for message managing. Policy is decided by leaders and their advisors. Polls and other such tools tell you how best to sell that policy.

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    10. First-off, it is just strategy since we are not in the midst of an election campaign.

      Is it good strategy? Yes. Not only is it good strategy to remind voters of Liberals' broken promises and incompetencies but, it is also the job of the Official Opposition to do so-to critique Government policy while it is in the legislative realm where sometimes amendments can be made if enough good will and perhaps public pressure exist.

      This idea to hold the critique-until when? The next election campaign? When nothing can be done to improve the situation? That doesn't make sense. People will rightly ask where was the protest, criticism and attempt to amend when the legislation or policy was first introduced when it could be amended? Questions will be rightly asked": If the policy, legislation, appointment was so poor why at the time did the Conservative Party not protest? If an opposition party does not object during the legislative stage they give tacit approval to the legislation, policy, appointment etc... That simply does not make any sense. You for some reason wish the Opposition to have the same policies and temperament as the Government? Or at least hold their criticism until the writ period? In order not to differentiate themselves from the other parties? What is it exactly you think opposition parties should do? Clap a la trained Liberal backbenchers or seals? Sit mum only speaking to offer words of congratulations and praise?

      The only thing amateurish is our current Government. What ever happened to those 25,000 refugees? Did they arrive? JT sure has forgotten about them rather quickly, I guess they are no longer the media tool they once were for the Liberal Party?

      Tone is important, sure, but criticising the lavish over-spending of this Government deserves a light thrown upon it. Paying a couple hundred thousand per annum for Justin's nannies is one thing subjecting future generations to billions of dollars in debt so that baby-boomers can enjoy an even more comfortable retirement quite another. This after Canada has gone into debt for the baby-boomer generation at least twice before. Important fiscal, financial, social as well as questions surrounding inter-generational equity persist from the policies of this Government. They should be explored and when appropriate criticised-that is the proper role of opposition parties-it is what democracy and especially parliamentary democracy is all about!

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    11. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Facts are JT continues to grow in popularity, i.e. the CPC campaign is not working.

      Now, you can make your decisions based on facts, or based on ideology. Only one of those works in practice. I'll let you work out which one is it.

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    12. I've also noticed that so many of the CPC punditry have shifted their language and focus. Plus you are right re JT's ever growing popularity. CPC has blown the campaign IMO !!

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    13. What ever happened to those 25,000 refugees? Did they arrive?

      As a matter of fact they have. 26,500 of them as of last counting. But more importantly, do you really believe there is someone out there who would say: "I was really keen on Trudeau, but he took seven extra weeks to get those Syrians here. I'll never vote for him again!".

      Similarly for the deficit, a year from now there are two possible scenarios: (a) the economy does well, the deficit is thus smaller than projected given the extra revenues, JT claims credit and he looks like a hero or (b) the economy worsens and JT looks proactive and on top of things for having spent that extra money. So either way, JT looks good. It all sums up to: this year's deficit is not a good PR target for the CPC.

      Notice that I'm not disagreeing with the substance of your complaint, I'm just showing that in practice it doesn't have traction in the court of public opinion, actual merits be damned.

      Being in opposition doesn't mean one has to swing at every pitch. You sit patiently, waiting for the right opportunity, then you pounce as hard as you can. If I were working for the CPC leadership (hey Rona, give me a call :) ) I'd advice them to wait for action on the pipelines and Bombardier, both of which are likely to happen soon and likely to be target rich environments.

      This is why the CPC campaign comes across as amateurish. They are firing in all directions without sense or purpose.

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    14. What ever happened to those 25,000 refugees? Did they arrive?

      As a matter of fact they have. 26,500 of them as of last counting. But more importantly, do you really believe there is someone out there who would say: "I was really keen on Trudeau, but he took seven extra weeks to get those Syrians here. I'll never vote for him again!".

      Similarly for the deficit, a year from now there are two possible scenarios: (a) the economy does well, the deficit is thus smaller than projected given the extra revenues, JT claims credit and he looks like a hero or (b) the economy worsens and JT looks proactive and on top of things for having spent that extra money. So either way, JT looks good. It all sums up to: this year's deficit is not a good PR target for the CPC.

      Notice that I'm not disagreeing with the substance of your complaint, I'm just showing that in practice it doesn't have traction in the court of public opinion, actual merits be damned.

      Being in opposition doesn't mean one has to swing at every pitch. You sit patiently, waiting for the right opportunity, then you pounce as hard as you can. If I were working for the CPC leadership (hey Rona, give me a call :) ) I'd advice them to wait for action on the pipelines and Bombardier, both of which are likely to happen soon and likely to be target rich environments.

      This is why the CPC campaign comes across as amateurish. They are firing in all directions without sense or purpose.

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    15. There is an old rule in business. Let others do the talking for you if possible, making it so when you do talk people listen. The Liberals deficit will speak for itself if they keep it up at $30 billion a year for 4 years - an easy attack ad in the next election but if you use up all of the strength of it now then it'll mean nothing in 4 years as everyone will go 'yeah yeah, so what? we knew that'.

      The issues in the next election will be decided by who leads the Cons and NDP. Greens will be more focused and should have an easier time since the pure hatred against Harper will be gone thus so too will be the strategic voting - FYI: May got over 90% support in a Leadership Review vote. Just a bit better than Mulcair did.

      So the biggest and smallest of the federal parties both have strong support for their leader while the two in the middle have no support for theirs. It'll be interesting to see who leads each into the next election.

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    16. What campaign, Peter? There's no campaign.

      The job of the parliamentarians, right now, is to govern. Not seek reelection. The opposition should criticize the Prime Minister when it thinks the Prime Minister is making a mistake, and applaud the Prime Minister when it thinks the Prime Minister is doing something right. Simply opposing the government on everything because they're the enemy is unhelpful.

      Justin Trudeau said it very well during his victory speech: "The Conservatives are not our enemies; they are our neighbours." He's 100% correct. We're not enemies, and we're certainly not enemies outside of the run up to an election.

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    17. And Tories need to stop complaining about the nanny thing. The Prime Minister gets a budgeted amount to run his household. It's up to him how that money gets spent.

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    18. Polstats,

      Your criticism of the Tories for doing their job as Official Opposition is perplexing. It does go some way in explaining why you are not running the Tory Party.

      Secondly; the idiom is usually written as: "the proof is in the pudding" at least in English.

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    19. Actually, the original is "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", which has often been shortened to "the proof is in the pudding".

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    20. Éric beat me to it.

      The Bombardier deal might be something worth attacking, depending how the government handles it. That could be the beginning of a useful narrative for the CPC if this government handles Bombardier the same way previous Liberal governments have (early remarks from Trudeau suggest this will not be the case).

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    21. It might be perplexing, and for sure I'm not running the party. They wouldn't have lost so badly in October and wouldn't still be losing ground today in the polls if they had.

      Yes, they have a job to do as opposition. There is more than one way to go about it, you know?

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    22. John_Northey got it exactly right. The deficit will be a very good target to pursue come next election if still there. Right now you simply inure people to your message by going over and over on it, right after an election where the deficit was seen as a positive by the electorate.

      As I keep on saying, there is smart campaigning/media messaging and there is dumb campaigning. So far the CPC is doing the latter.

      Time for a change in their media team.

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    23. "They wouldn't have lost so badly in October and wouldn't still be losing ground today in the polls if they had".

      Hahahahaha- and your s&*% doesn't stink either eh? I am willing to bet you have little experience in election campaigns or campaigning certaining not enough to run a national campaign and certainly not enough to propose you could have been the Conservative's saviour last October. The Tories are holding steady in the polls. The fluctuations are well within the MoE.

      Tories are not worried because Trudeau is really making a hash of things.

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    24. Polstats wrote: "I'd advice them to wait for action on the pipeline".

      Good thing you will not advise them on spelling.

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  3. That should be part 1 of their new media strategy. First, wait until the actual real first big gaffe. There's no rush since as you say the election is a long time away. Furthermore, chasing him non-stop robs credibility from the criticisms that will be leveled when he eventually drops the ball on some issue.

    The current conservative playbook says that this should be done to keep the bases engaged and donating money, but the actual value of this strategy remains very much in question. While in the USA they help win midterm congressional elections, they alienate the all important middle which is needed to win Federal elections.

    Keep in mind that the GOP last had a clear victory in 1988, losing 1992 and 1996 against Clinton, the popular vote in 2000, the all but for Ohio presidency in 2004, and 2008 and 2012 against Obama, with the polls not looking too good for 2016, though it's early in the game.

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    1. The GOP has some serious internal problems, I will grant.

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  4. Thomas Walkom

    Manitoba election result a classic case of ‘throw the bums out’: Walkom
    Toronto Star

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    1. Much as Alberta's was last year.

      That's often how elections go.

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    2. A good number of adages there..from parties defeat themselves, to turn over is good in democracy. I have to think that turn over is good for a functional democracy, governments need to accountable, and fresh...too long in power normally leads to excesses.

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