Nothing has happened since then to cause me to change my mind. Indeed, if anything every day brings fresh evidence that a federal election is near.
This has emboldened me to climb a little further out onto my forecasting limb.
After much pondering, I have come to the conclusion that if we do have a federal election this spring, the result will be a Conservative majority.
Now I realize this forecast goes against conventional political wisdom.
Many pundits, using current public opinion polls as evidence, are arguing no party currently has enough voter support to win a majority.
Columnist Lorne Gunter has written, “Party standings would probably end the campaign at more or less their current levels. There is almost certainly no majority available to any party.”
And former Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella has declared, “Harper is still far from a majority.”
Gunter and Kinsella are forgetting one simple fact: Canadians are not yet politically engaged.
The Liberals recently released a poll, for instance, which showed only 15 percent of Canadians are even paying attention to federal politics. (By the way, that’s completely normal.
The average person rarely cares about the goings on in
. They would rather watch American Idol than The National. And who can blame them?) Ottawa
But once an election is actually called Canadians will get focused on politics. They will start paying attention.
And what will these focused Canadians see when they start paying attention?
Well for one thing they will see a Prime Minister in Stephen Harper who is at the peak of his political powers.
A battle-hardened veteran of three national election campaigns and two leadership races,
Harper is a wily political tactician who leads a united, well-disciplined and wealthy party.
The Liberals, on the other hand, are in a sorry state.
Their leader, Michael Ignatieff, is intelligent but a rookie when it comes to running a national campaign. He has only one national race under his belt, a Liberal leadership contest, which he lost.
Nor has he shown any evidence that he is a good campaigner or that he possesses good political instincts or that he can come up with a message that will resonate with Canadians.
His party is also demoralized and cash-poor.
In short, in the next election Ignatieff will have a hard enough time rallying his own
Liberal base, let alone winning over undecided voters.
In other words, on paper at least, the Harper vs Ignatieff contest could be the biggest mismatch since General Custer took on Sitting Bull.
And let’s not forget the Conservatives only need a net gain of 12 seats to win a majority.
That’s absolutely doable.
All things considered, the Conservatives should gain seats in Danny Williams-less Newfoundand and will very likely win back the one seat they lost in
in 2008. Alberta
But I’m guessing it’s in “voter-rich”
where the Conservatives will really make their majority-guaranteeing electoral breakthrough. Ontario
Political conditions in that province are just right for major Tory gains.
Last year’s emotion-laden debate over the gun registry, for instance, should help the Conservatives immensely when it comes to taking some Opposition-held
rural ridings. Ontario
’s urban ridings are ripe for the Tory taking. Ontario
Consider how the Conservatives handily won the recent by-election in Vaughn.
Plus the victory of conservative Rob Ford in the Toronto Mayor race shows even the up until now Tory-resistant GTA might be ready to turn blue.
Helping the Conservatives is that Ontarians are growing tired of Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty and thus will be in the mood to vote against any Liberal, provincially or federally.
For all these reasons a Conservative majority seems to be in the cards.
Mind you, the preceding analysis assumes the Tories will run a good, tactically sound campaign, and I concede that’s a mighty big assumption.
Never underestimate the ability of Conservatives to mess things up.
However, all things being equal, we should expect 2011 to mark the true beginning of the Harper dynasty.
How will Prime Minister Harper govern after he wins a majority?
That’s something even I can’t predict.