Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Why did our federal Election result last night give the Liberals an unexpected return to governing with a majority government.  Note that even the most recent polls suggested a close result, with a likely Liberal minority win; the momentum shift was apparently spoken about behind party doors, not in public.

Here are pieces of the puzzle which I believe help explain the result:

  • The Liberals were very ‘efficient’ with their votes: a solid majority of seats with barely 40% of the votes cast
  • In the lead up to the election, a few high profile Conservative cabinet ministers, such as John Baird in Ottawa and Peter McKay in Central Nova (Nova Scotia) left government, with no high profile replacements; conversely, the Liberals brought in some high profile candidates, such as the former chief of police in Toronto
  • The NDP was hurt in its stronghold in Quebec mainly by being offside with public opinion on a couple of hot button issues (such as the Muslim niqab), and failed to hold onto high profile urban ridings like Ottawa Centre; also, Olivia Chow, widow of Jack Layton, failed to win in Toronto
  • The long-running Conservative ad campaign bashing Justin Trudeau wore on the patience of many voters, including some who otherwise might have voted Conservative again; even on YouTube, the night before the election, five second ads were running still pushing this tiresomely negative theme
  • The ambiguous role of social media, more popular with younger voters, included an overall theme identifying social and environmental issues which decried the Conservative agenda; moreover, there was a string undercurrent of voters of all ages wanting to oust Stephen Harper, definitely wanting to ‘kill the messenger’; the strong desire for change saw the Liberals and Trudeau as more appealing than the more radical NDP and Mulcair
  • The focus seemed to be more on Harper than the party’s policies: as commentators mentioned last night, his extreme partisanship, lack of delegation of decision-making outside the PMO, his lack of deference to non-economic issues, in effect his ‘my way or the highway’ manner, was a real turn-off; a CBC panelist concluded there was a strong desire to change this style of governing
  • Former Ontario NDP leader and federal liberal Bob Rae commented that people have had a history of underestimating Justin Trudeau; apparently, he is a very hard and disciplined worker, and decisive decision-maker (plus, of course, grew up in the household of a previous Prime Minister); another CBC panelist, political writer Andrew Coyne, noted the ironic similarity of the new party seat distribution across the country to that of Pierre Trudeau’s comeback win, and the aptness of the latter’s expression “My friends, welcome to the 1980s”
  • While the Conservative message style focused on stability, and the NDP of making a change, the Liberals message was clearly one of positive hope; at this point in time, rightly or wrongly, it was the latter which struck home with the electorate

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