Friday, June 24, 2016

The Pollcast: The Liberals and their digital revolution

For years, the Conservatives beat their rivals at the ballot box thanks in part to their superior skills at slicing and dicing the electorate. They learned a lot about their potential supporters and appealed to them as consumers. Then they reaped the electoral rewards.

But their election-winning strategy hit a wall in 2015 when the Liberals finally caught up in the data wars and employed new and risky advertising strategies with success.

"Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them," originally published in 2013, delves into how politics and marketing have come together in Canada.

Susan Delacourt, columnist for the Toronto Star and iPolitics and author of the book, joins me to discuss the new chapters in her updated edition that look at how the Liberals won in 2015.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to hear future episodes here.

Uniting Wildrose and the PCs in Alberta no easy task for Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney might be planning to leave federal politics to enter the fray in Alberta, riding in as a white knight to unite the divided right and defeat Rachel Notley's governing New Democrats.

It may prove even more difficult than many think.

Kenney, a former high-profile cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government, has been widely seen as a likely front-runner in the race to replace the departed Conservative leader.

Instead, the job vacancy that Kenney might now be hoping to fill is the leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives — a position abandoned by Jim Prentice after the PCs, who had governed the province uninterrupted from 1971, were reduced to third-party status in the 2015 election.

The party that vaulted ahead and currently occupies the role of the Official Opposition is Wildrose, led by former Conservative MP Brian Jean. Kenney would need to absorb Wildrose into the PCs in order to unite the right and create a common front to fight the NDP.

Wildrose, however, is not much inclined to be absorbed. And Brian Jean doesn't want to go anywhere. With more seats (22 compared to nine for the PCs) and more money in the bank, he could easily make the argument that it is the PCs that need to sacrifice themselves.

You can read the rest of this article here.

British voters split on Brexit referendum vote, but Remain may have edge: polls

The tumultuous and divisive referendum campaign on the future of the United Kingdom's place in the European Union comes to a fittingly tense and uncertain end Thursday, as polls suggest it could be decided by the narrowest of margins.

But after some harrowing days on an increasingly negative campaign trail that seemed to be leaning towards Brexit — interrupted by the tragic and violent murder of Labour MP Jo Cox — the edge may be back with the Remain camp.

In the last six polls published by members of the British Polling Council before Wednesday, the Remain side has averaged 45.5 per cent support. The Leave campaign follows less than two points behind at 43.8 per cent. On average, 10 per cent of voters remain undecided.

You can read the rest of this Brexit analysis here.

Donald Trump slumps in polls after Orlando

If Donald Trump believed that the Orlando shooting and a renewed focus on terrorism would help boost his sagging presidential campaign, polls suggest it has had no such impact.

In fact, his reaction to the tragedy may be hurting him.

The presumptive Republican nominee is now trailing rival Hillary Clinton in CBC's weighted average of U.S. polls by a greater margin than two weeks ago. His support stands at 43.2 per cent among decided registered or likely voters, compared to 49.3 per cent for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

You can read the rest of this U.S. politics analysis here.


  1. While I have very little use for Hillary she has to be vastly better for us than that trump idiot.

    1. I still maintain that we have no idea what Trump's policy positions are (which is troubling in and of itself), so we don't really know what sort of President he would be.

      At least with Clinton we have some idea where she stands. She doesn't stand somewhere good, but we know where that is.

      So the election really comes down to a choice between the devil they know and the devil they don't. I've never found this a compelling argument for the devil we know, because we know that's a devil.

      But, frankly, we know that about Trump, too.

      Whether someone votes for Trump should probably be based on how much that person dislikes Clinton. If you really dislike Clinton, Trump might be better. But if you don't really dislike Clinton, Trump might be worse.

      It's a weird election.

    2. I still maintain that we have no idea what Trump's policy positions are (

      Precisely an in the face of the unknown the only position has to be rejection.

    3. America has too many problems to elect the status quo. Clinton will keep the corrupt, money grubbing rotten core of Washington. Trump will at least shake things up which is the minimum required if America wants to solve its many problems.

    4. Well, maybe. Trump might instead decide to use that corrupt rotten core to enrich himself and his family.

      He also might, if he decides he's not being treated "fairly" by the media or the political establishment or something, just quit and walk away. He could do this during the campaign, which would be hilarious, or as President, which would be even funnier.

    5. "Trump will at least shake things up"

      We don't know this. Trump says contradictory things all the time so who knows what he'll do. The closest things we have to Trump are Arnold, Jesse Ventura and Berlusconi and they didn't shake things much.

    6. Ira,

      The Clintons and Blairs sure did. I agree Trump may walk away or may become part of the establishment or just decide not to follow through on half of what he promised.

      Berlusconi totally revamped Italian politics almost single handedly creating a Northern separatist movement, eliminating the Christian Democrats who had ruled Italy almost non-stop since the Fall of the Monarchy and taking a much more ambitious and vocal foreign policy. Never mind Ruby "the heart stealer". In short berlusconi and his Northern League brought about the largest realignment of Italian politics since the 1946 referendum.

    7. Formerly Carbonnear Pete:

      Current and potential future openings at the Supreme Court are far too important to risk a Trump presidency.

      Trump's also suggested bailing out of NATO and out of the defence pact with Japan and South Korea, the latter of which has earned him praise from Kim Jong-Un.

      (You'd think what amounts to an endorsement from North flippin' Korea would be the kiss of death for any aspiring Presidential candidate.)

    8. The separatist movement existed long before Berlusconi. In its present form is represented by the Lega Nord created in 1989 and it was the fourth largest party by 1992. Berlusconi didn't enter politics until 1994 and lasted exactly one year in office in his first try, with no major changes until his second term in office in 2001. The realignment of Italian politics predates Berlusconi's second government by a decade.

    9. As Canadians who becomes the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice should be of no concern to us, unless you plan on engaging in criminal activity South of the border!

      NATO is a terrible deal for the U.S. because "leaders" such as Justin Trudeau spend a measly 1.5% of GDP on defence or less instead of a NATO recommended 2% leaving the U.S. and U.K. to fill the funding and capacity gaps. The U.K. and the U.S. are the only countries that reach the 2% goal. Since, the U.S. fulfills the vast majority of NATO commitments it is an added cost for them and a defence subsidy for countries such as Canada. Trump's position is completely rational and it is a surprise another politician did not suggest it sooner. France has been out of the NATO command structure since, 1969 for instance.

      The U.S. and other countries should engage with North Korea this is a long standing policy of both the U.S., South Korea, Japan and other countries. Trump is merely following on this long standing policy.

      You've convinced me. Trump for President! Hilary Clinton who along with the Blairs probably are the most greedy, grafting politicians (and very likely corrupt) since Cock Robin has scheemed to become president almost since the day she got into Wellesseley. If you want a self-serving and self-absorbed president vote Hilary. If you think America has serious structural, cultural, political, economic and social problems you should vote Trump or Sanders!

      Where is Hilary's plan to pay for the massive unfunded liabilities in the future or to make social security sustainable in the medium term or gun control. Hilary talks a good game but, I doubt even with a Democratic Congress she could pass gun control. It is like Nixon going to China. America needs a president who will work for ordinary folks not some snobby, self-appointed, conniving, power obsessed woman who only stayed with Bill to further her political career.

    10. Saying that a US Supreme Court decision can't affect Canada is incredibly naive, if not just for the number of Americans who live and invest here.

    11. Matt Astell,

      I did not write; "US Court Decisions(sic) can't affect (sic) Canada" now did I? Why are you misquoting me as well as incorrectly re-interpreting what I wrote?

      I asked why a Canadian would be concerned with U.S. court decision since, for the great majority of Canadians decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court will have a very marginal impact on their lives?

      As a Canadian who the Americans appoint to sit on their courts is none of my business. I can make it my business of course by becoming a U.S. citizen until then, I'll let the Americans take responsibility for their own affairs and concern myself with my own.

      And Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court is just for Americans, its decisions may effect other people who are not American but, fundamentally its job and mission is to keep the rule of law and provide final appellate judgement on cases in the U.S. court system.

    12. Given recent SCOTUS rulings regarding international jurisdiction, I'd say it matters.

      That said, I'm not too worried about the prospect of Trump's potential nominees. They'd still need to get through the Senate, at the Senate can score political points by defeating those nominations as long as Trump is broadly unpopular (something I expect always to be true).

      In fact, given Trump's likely enduring unpopularity, I would expect that his Presidency would end prematurely with impeachment. Impeachment is primarily a political tool, used to remove Presidents when it benefits congress to do so. Recall that there were clearly grounds to remove President Clinton from office, but the Senate chose not to do that because Clinton was popular.

    13. What rulings and what do they say? There are no questions the U.S.A. does on occasion work outside the boundaries or at least norms of international law. Certainly, some incidents brought forward by the media and others appear to show violations within International Law.

      However, unless your links to the U.S.A. are significant or perhaps minor albeit with major investment or savings in U.S. funds or equities the impact of SCOTUS decisions will have a very marginal impact for the vast majorities of Canadians. Truth be told the vast majority of Final Appellate Cases in any major Western jurisdiction will have slight or marginal impact on the vast majority of citizens lives and ability to live without hindrance or prejudice. The one exception is human rights law such as; Gay marriage, abortion rights and for Canada I would add Aboriginal Rights where a significant portion of the population is affected or governed by statute.

      I think you have hit the nail on the head when it comes to a Trump presidency and likely enduring unpopularity among a significant segment of the US electorate and what this would mean for Trump political appointees. All these nervous nellies are reminiscent of Chicken Little proclaiming the "sky is falling" and they do so without admitting their own political biases!

      Finally, it is my understanding (although I am not an expert on the U.S. Constitution) that a president may be impeached by the House of Representatives and remain in office if the Senate refuses to hold a trial-this is- I believe what happened to former president Clinton in the 1990's.

  2. This is no way surprises me. As time moves forward and people see Trump thrust into "presidential" situations e.g.: how to respond to a mass shooting, you will have Obama being Presidential, Hilary being similar to Obama in tone and message, and Trump who will Tweet "I told you so" and then send a flock of people to try to debate the finite details of his tweet to show how he didn't say I told you so.

    1. When Trump lurched into the primary race, he did terribly at first. Now we see the same thing happening.

      Can Trump figure out how to game the election the way he gamed the primaries? Probably not, but at this point I'm not willing to bet on it.

      He's going to have a devastating fundraising deficit to Clinton. In the primaries his earned media more than made up for that, but the media seems wise to him now. His schtick isn't working as well.

      When he gives actual speeches, he's pretty good (Ivanka writes excellent speeches). When he just talks, he sounds like a crazy person. And now there's been that clumsy assassination attempt, which I fully expect Trump to leverage so he can compare himself to Bobby Kennedy.

      Political scientists are probably loving this.

    2. Ira,

      You know Trump is minor league when he places most of his faith in family members...amateurish and potentially very dangerous. Guess Cory found that one out. At least Reagan had the formidable Nancy in the wings.

    3. He places trust in Ivanka, which seems like a pretty good idea. You don't see either of his sons working on the campaign.

      It's interesting that Lewandowski's major failing as campaign manager was his willingness to "let Trump be Trump", but doing so got Trump to fire him. If Trump now gets a campaign manager who actually reigns him in, we might still have a race on our hands.

      Clinton's clearly the favourite to win the election in November, but 4 months is a long time in a world where Trump can completely rewrite the rules of journalistic integrity every 6 days.

  3. Jason Kenney might be in a good place, though.

    Federal conservatives do tend to be WR supporters, rather than PC supporters. Kenney is well-liked by Albertan conservatives. The PC leadership job is available. Brian Jean is facing a revolt within his own party.

    If Kenney runs for the PC leadership explicitly with the objective of uniting the parties, he could draw a ton of WR support by doing that. Kenney very much as that WR approach, rather than the old cronyism that caused Alberta to turf the PCs. If Kenney makes it clear that he's not running for the leadership of the third party, but instead is running for the leadership of a combined party (even while Jean is still there), that might work.

    Also, Kenney and Jean were colleagues in Ottawa. Kenney might be able to get Jean on board with this idea. Remember, Jean didn't become WR leader because he desperately wanted to be Premier. Jean became WR leader because somebody had to do it after the Danielle Smith debacle.

    1. I think Kenney has a good chance if he makes it very clear he is running for leadership of the Alberta Conservative Party, not the PCA. That is to say, he's running for leadership of a combined, reformed party of the right combining the right wing of the PCA and the WR.

      Then, if Notley had any smarts I would expect her to split from the Federal NDP because of of the leap manifesto, reform as the Alberta Social Democracy Party joining with the red wing of the PCA and the Alberta Liberal Party.

    2. And the Alberta Party. If you're building a big test, leaving anyone outside the tent makes your efforts look unsuccessful.

      Remember the United Alternative Initiative.

    3. Polstats,

      Kenny can't run for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative Party because it does not exist! So, if Kenney has a good chance to lead this hypiothetical entity what are his chances in the real world where only the leadership of the PCA is open?

      I would opine 50/50 at best. He's a longshot which probably explains why he is being so secretive about his deliberations.

    4. Who else is interested in the job? Sandra Janzen?

    5. Exactly and she already has a seat in the Legislative Assembly.

    6. Janzen would probably make the best premier Alberta has had since Ralph. I just question whether she can recapture the rural voters who keep Wild Rose alive.

      Wild Rose is a poorly organized protest party, but it has the devoted backing of nearly a third of Albertans. And the recent return of Randy Thorsteinson to Alberta politics (recall that Wild Rose was created by the merger of two parties, one of which was founded by Thorsteinson) suggests that the social conservative rump that most provinces can safely ignore will continue to be a significant player in Alberta politics. As soon as the SoCons' preferred party drifts too far into the mainstream, a new one pops up.

      If a new party leader is going to consolidate enough of the right-wing support to defeat Rachel Notley, that leader needs to appeal to those social conservative extremists just enough to keep them from splitting the vote. We've seen a number of different approaches to this challenge, with varying levels of success. Remember Danielle Smith's refusal to take any sort of stand on social issues. Or Ralph's over-the-top redneck demeanour, despite being remarkably liberal on social issues.

      Jason Kenney's long-standing and well-known association with Stephen Harper might give him that credibility with the SoCons. I don't see how Janzen would manage it.

    7. Ira,

      I agree Janzen may have trouble attracting rural social conservatives my hypothesis would simply be that governments are won in Calgary and Edmonton. The party leading in the polls may well emerge as "the Alternative" to defeat the Government during the course of the election campaign. In brief I would argue the votes are in the cities and in 2016 for a party to be successful in Alberta popular support in urban Alberta is a prerequisite.

      Secondly, what are these SoCons going to do? If it looks the PCs are the party best able to unseat the NDP they'll have to decide which they loath more; living in a social democratic paradise or voting for the Tories? Undoubtedly some will continue voting WildRose but the Tories may only need a couple per cent here and there to get them over the top.

    8. Social conservatives aren't known for their critical thinking. Whoever wants to defeat the NDP needs to look at the SoCon voters an an exploitable resource.

    9. At this juncture I would bet that a hung parliament is the likely outcome of the next Alberta general election. To win a majority some social conservative voters may be needed in order to win seats in the North but, to form a government may only take 30 seats if the vote is split between the Government, WildRose and the Tories. I think the Tories' best strategy is to concentrate on the urban electorate as this seems the most likely source for them to win a plurality of seats. They can worry about the SoCons when they are in government and need additional votes for a majority government.

    10. Social conservatives are what 8% of the electorate? A party that wants to defeat the NDP should be striving for at least a third of voters 8% represents about a quarter of the votes they need. It really depends however because if that social conservative 8% are going to scare away the other 25% you need to get to 33% to form government and hinder your credibility as a government-in-waiting then they are not a resource they're a cost.

  4. I think Jason Kenney unlikely to unite conservative Albertans in time for the next provincial general election. [C]onservative parties usually receive 50-80% of the popular vote in Alberta. In Alberta two conservative parties could split this support and still have a better than even chance of defeating the NDP whose 40% of the popular vote is likely to decline next election. The Alberta PCs are Red Tories and I doubt, Kenney has the support in that party to win its leadership. The anti-merger, anti-Kenney candidate is the favourite.

    It is very difficult to subsume political parties even when they are wallowing in the depths of defeat. The BC Liberal Party still claimed 6% of the vote 40 years after leaving government. It took Social Credit 8 general elections to remove the last Liberal from the House and the PC sent members to the House for 25 years with breaks after the coalition government was defeated in 1952.

    With Alberta's changing demographics and urbanisation the PCs are the Party better placed to win Government as the majority of seats are now located in Metro Calgary and Dedmonton.


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