Final election thoughts

Well, it’s been a fun ride, and thank god it’s almost over. I think I’ve worked close to an average of 12 hours each day since arriving on January second, and I miss my home and especially my sweetie. It’s been worth it, though. Our website has done well, despite the occasional server problems. We’ve had over 600,000 unique visits and pushed more than half a terabyte of data at an eager public. Even the cute flash e-cards we put up Friday have been sent close to 900 times already. For people wondering more about what it’s like to work here, there’s a cute description of our Ottawa office at the top of this CP Newswire summary of the campaign.

I’ve known for a while that much of winning an election comes down to mere strategy and planning — what time of day do you send out the press release? who do you choose to stand around as a backdrop behind the leader when they speak on TV? how good are you at making a list of everyone likely to support your party, and then hassling each and every one of them on election day to make sure they bother to get to the polling station? Everything I’ve seen here has reinforced that view, and taught me more about how that works. From a strategic point of view, the pundits agree that the NDP has performed very well this time around, and certainly better than the Liberals, who were just a mess, what with spending half their time jostling for position in their internal leadership race.

If Harper had campaigned this well last time he’d be living at 24 Sussex already. So where did this new-found party discipline come from? He’s lately become a strong admirer of right-leaning Australian PM John Howard, and his ability to talk centrist, act rightist, and run a tight campaign. (1, 2) While conducting a ruthless internal review after losing in 2004, Harper brought in one of Howard’s top strategists to informally advise him, and it seems to be working. Howard, for his part, has been in power since 1996 despite not being particularly popular. I hope Canadian voters are not so easily played, because Harper’s popularity scares the hell out of me. He wants to abolish every last bit what he calls our “Northern European welfare state”, and his MPs and friends are even worse.

However, although the Conservatives are doing much better in Quebec than even they expected, they don’t have party infrastructure there to deliver as many votes as the polls are indicating. They won’t make that mistake again, but it’s far too late now. For similar reasons, the Liberals will do better than some pundits have been expecting over this past week.

I get to spend tomorrow pulling the vote in Ottawa Centre, which means knocking on the door of supporters to remind them to vote. It sounds a little dull but after three weeks of never leaving my cubicle I probably need the exercise. Apparently the weather will be mild. I hope our server stays up. I hope people vote for us. I hope the seat projections are right and we win 31 seats! Wish us luck… and don’t forget to vote!