I usually don't get into raw politics much on this blog, but I couldn't help but take exception to a statement made by Lawrence Martin of the Glib and Frail
in his column a few days ago regarding an Obama victory ultimately helping the Liberals and Dion in the next general election campaign. Here's what he said:
"The Liberals want to perform reasonably well in the by-elections, then push for a general campaign in the fall. Their ideal scenario is for a vote to come in November on the heels of a rising liberal tide - an Obama victory - in the U.S. presidential election."
Now I can understand every left-of-centre journalists' dream to have the North American power corridor occupied by two very Liberal minded political leaders, however, if you stop for a second and let a few little facts get in the way of clear utopianism, you realize that an Obama victory should be cause for concern for the Dion led Liberals in the next campaign, not cause for optimism. Why?
Well, let's take a look at the political landscape, not to mention, the national poll situation of both the US Democrats and the Canadian Tories for a moment.
First off, much like Democrats, the conservatives under Harper are searching for that last piece of the puzzle that will snap the long hold on power held by their political opponents. In other words, for the Democrats, that would mean regaining the white house; for Harper, that would entail forming a clear majority in the House of Commons.
Unfortunately for Stephane Dion (and Lawrence Martin's scenario above), that's not where the similarities end with Harper and Obama.
What is more important here is that both Obama and Harper have failed to move the polls an inch since gaining the political spotlight. Why is this so significant? Well, the usefulness in national polls is in getting rough ideas of a candidate's popularity, and more importantly as a judge of momentum
. It is on this latter score that both Harper and Obama have had some serious concern heading into a general election. In other words, it's cause for concern personally for Obama, as for Harper, it raises doubts on whether or not he can actually sell his party's message to the entire national electorate.
For instance, on June 4th, Rasmussen Reports released its first daily tracking poll of the U.S. general election (3,000 likely voters over three nights, with a margin of error of +/-2%), and it showed Obama 47%, McCain 45%. Fifty-seven days later, the Wednesday, July 30 poll showed Obama at 48% to McCain's 46%-virtually no movement. In the interim, neither candidate has shown movement outside the margin of error.
North of the border, a Nanos tracking poll
completed April 9th, 2008 (847 Canadians 18 years of age and older and accurate within 3.4 percentage points) showed the conservatives oters weren't truly paying close attention, and so minimal movement in the polls was to be expected prior to a race. Furthermore, what the polls say and what the electors do in the next election, I believe, is still up for grabs.