Thursday, March 08, 2012

Alberta Race Getting Tough

A couple of months ago I was part of a TV panel discussing the impending Alberta election.

My view at the time was even though the Wildrosers were lagging in the polls they could still make a race out of it.

And it seems I was right because recently the Alberta Progressive Conservatives launched an anti-Wildrose attack ad.

Typically you don’t go on the attack if you have a big lead; you do it when you want to quickly degrade a growing or potential threat.

At any rate, the PC ad goes after Wildrose for opposing the Alberta government’s tough new anti-drunk driving law.

What’s interesting about the ad is the tag, which I suspect will be the framing message for all the PC party’s future attacks: “Wildrose: Not worth the risk"

It’s a nice succinct message that appeals to the “status quo” bias of voters and to their fear of the unknown.

Not a bad strategy.  Essentially the PCs are saying “Hey, we realize you might not be crazy about us, but why take the risk of handing over power to somebody you don’t know and who might be a radical?”

In other words, it’s the old “Better the Devil you know” tactic.

This is essentially the formula the federal Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals used successfully in recent elections.

And in this regard, the Wildrosers did not do themselves any favours by so publically opposing a drunk driving law.

Yes, I realize it will appeal to the party’s libertarian base, but it will also make non-ideological Albertans and even “law and order” conservatives a little antsy. In short, it’s a hard sell that feeds into the PC narrative about risky Wildrosers.

This is why the PCs are attacking them on this issue.

Nor do I like the Wildrose attack ads going after Alberta Premier Alison Redford. See below.

These “flip flopper” ads, while common, are not that effective. Basically you are saying your opponent is right half the time! Plus, this ad focuses on process. Does anybody really care about fixed election dates?

My point is Wildrose will have to get more savvy about picking the issues which they fight on and get a lot tougher when attacking the PCs. Of course, such actions will only invite more PC attacks.

All of which means the Alberta election could get pretty hot. 

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