I have been trying to make some sense out of the recent Wildrose debacle.
What exactly happened? Why did the Wildrose blow such a seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls?
Lots of theories are floating out there. Some say “strategic voting” did them in or that the “bimbo eruptions” of loose cannon candidates hurt the party and others contend Wildrose is just too conservative.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith seems to be in the latter camp. Indeed, she is openly suggesting the party may have to rethink some of its policies if it’s to succeed in the future.
However, my view is the Wildrose loss had more to do with tactics than with policy.
Why do I say that? Well, just consider the Wildrose ad strategy in the last few weeks of the race. It ran what I call “Bandwagon” TV ads. These are positive, upbeat ads designed to urge undecided voters to jump on the “winning team”. These can be effective because, after all, people like to back a winner.
And when I saw these Wildrose ads it helped to confirm my belief they would win. I assumed Wildrose’s own internal polling showed them that undecided voters were leaning Wildrose, and that all it would take to win them over was a nudge.
Yet, it seems the undecided vote actually broke overwhelming for the Progressive Conservatives. Or least this is what Smith contends.
Now this is not the kind of trend a public poll would pick up. But the Wildrose’s own pollsters should have seen this coming. They should have known that undecided voters were leaning PC and would likely vote that way in large numbers.
If they didn’t pick up this crucial trend, than they were not doing their job.
On the other hand, if the pollsters did detect it, then the problem rests with the Wildrose campaign strategy.
Rather than running positive ads in the last few weeks of the race, they should have tried to degrade Premier Alison Redford and the PC brand name.
Perhaps this would have stopped the bleeding.
And yes, I know this is all hindsight analysis, but unfortunately it’s too late for foresight analysis.