BTC: ‘To what degree does Stephen Harper depend upon a certain level of voter cynicism?’


From the Vancouver Sun’s spirituality columnist’s blog(?).

“Officials from Angus Reid Strategies on Thursday revealed polling results to The Vancouver Sun that showed the ubiquitous roll-of-the-dice TV ads that targeted Liberal leader Stephane Dion as a flip-flopping advocate of a carbon tax persuaded 11 per cent of Canadian respondents not to vote for any candidate at all.”


BTC: ‘To what degree does Stephen Harper depend upon a certain level of voter cynicism?’

  1. Given that Harper never trailed in the polls at any point in the campaign, are disinclined voters cynics or realists?

    Keep trying, Aaron. It’s the pollsters’ fault!

  2. Todd is one of the finest journalists left in this country. That he’s picked up on this — note he sources his article with the polling group that nailed this election — is something candescent. Unfortunately, the nattering ninnies of the Harper brigade, fresh off of four years defending Bushian wars and the policies of pillaging barren federal coffers, are adamant that the story is only about the other guy’s failures.
    You know Gary, that tinfoil works almost as good as a mirror if you take it off your head.

  3. Dan,

    The election was 10 days ago. You lost. Big time. Get over it before this starts to look like your “Mortimer Duke” moment.

  4. This story is now running as a news article in the Vancouver Sun under the headline “Tory ads ‘poisoned’ election”. No other media is reporting it. The attack ads on Dion certainly had an effect. Whether Angus Reid has been able to get reliable poll information on this is open to debate. It is an interesting question and the media should report on it so that people can think about it.

    It is well known that attack ads work and Harper’s ads were particularly effective because they used a format which some might dismiss as stupid (I did, Dion said he did) but it is exactly this silliness and stupidity which makes them acceptable. People are not going to get outraged and cause a huge backlash, over some silly, comic sounding ad (provided you leave out sh*tting birds and bullet holes). So, you repeat it often enough and it sinks in without the backlash.

    Do Canadians simply want parties to use highly developed marketing techniques or would they like parties to actually convey relevant information during an election? Dion slogged away during this election trying to tell people about the Green Shift and other parts of his platform. Meanwhile, Harper refused to release a platform until the end (and it appears he was hoping not to reveal it at all) and relied on well-researched marketing techniques. Dion was even ridiculed for coming up with a multipoint immediate plan for the financial crisis. Harper knew not to come up with any such plan until AFTER the election.

  5. I think it’s true that negativism in elections generally turns people off and probably lowers voter turnout. However, to isolate the phenomenon to the Conservative’s negative ads is risible.

    Let’s forget negative ads for a moment. Did anyone here see the debates? The Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc and the Greens spent almost their entire time slamming the Conservatives instead of putting forward their platform and ideas. Particularly with the Greens, you would have thought that it would have been a marvelous time to introduce to Canadians what the Greens were all about. Instead you had frothing-at-the-mouth left-wing rants from Elizabeth May. She doesn’t like Harper, we get it.

    And what about the Anybody but Harper movement. Boy, that’s positive isn’t it? The NDP ads and the Liberal ads were negative as well. Did anyone see the NDP ads in Quebec attacking Harper? Or Duceppe’s constant negative portrayal of Harper. Aaron apparently didn’t, but I did. So folks, there’s plenty of blame to spread around here.

    I remember when Jean Chretien’s Liberals, with a comfortable majority, called a premature election in the fall of 2000, barely 3 years into their mandate, to catch the Canadian Alliance flat-footed and went on to savage Stockwell Day including Mr. Day’s religious views. The media thought that that was really clever. They cheered the Liberals and piled on.

    Now that the Conservatives have learned to play that game, the media don’t find it funny anymore.

    Two more things.

    The article however is right that Angus Reid nailed the election. Not Nic Nanos. Nic Nanos was way off. Secondly, the carbon tax, often the subject of the Tory attack ads, is a truly nutty policy, and to the extent that the ads helped bury its proponent, their effect was positive indeed.

  6. I may be selectively paying attention to polls in the USA, but it seems like the Rovian strategy of negative advertising against Obama
    (robocalls in particular) has served to motivate the electorate (toward Obama).

    I’m starting to get concerned about a growing apologist movement regarding voter turnout. “The parties are all the same!” “Without PR, my vote doesn’t count!” “My issues aren’t being talked about!” “It doesn’t matter who is in power.” “All politicians are crooks!”

    Those sorts of arguments may have the occasional grain of truth, but hardly constitute decent reasons not to vote. Not to mention that the less people bother to vote, the more likely perceived undesirable trends will become further entrenched.

    People need to get off their lazy asses. Vote. Write letters to their MPs and newspapers. Join a party or advocacy organization. Get involved.

    I agree it’s a concern that voter turnout is so low – it increases the impact of minority interests who mobilize their votes effectively. But let’s stop making excuses for nincompoops who think staying home is a smart thing to do.

    Decisions are made by those who show up. Who gives a rat’s ass about those who don’t?

  7. Right. It was only the Conservatives negative ads that kept voters home.

    The Liberal “BushHarper” ads and the NDP attack ads, on the other hand, will be in contention for the Golden Lion at the Cannes Advertising film festival?

    How many people did the Liberal ad campaign keep home in 2006? Did anyone ask the pollsters that?

    What utter garbage. Media as usual, choosing to pick only at the Conservatives while ignoring the Liberals who do the same thing.

  8. Sorry but the sad truth is that Harper’s attack ads against Dion wouldn’t have had half of the impact it made had it not been for Liberal insiders feeding anonymous comments to Jane Taber and others.

    Harper’s ads were successful because Dion’s own people were going around confirming that what they were saying was true.

    Add to that the numerous pundits who would engage in an almost weekly “pile-on” on Dion’s back, the man didn’t stand a chance.

    I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw such a concerted effort to mock and vilify a politician. I thought that Harper had it bad but then he didn’t have to face million dollar ad campaigns PRE-WRIT from a sitting government.

    Mother Teresa herself would have come out looking like Adolf Hitler with that kind of PR.

  9. Jarrid, Elizabeth May did spend a decent amount of time at the debates elaborating what the Green Party’s position is on many issues. To suggest otherwise is dishonest. Just because your guy got piled on (as any PM is piled on) is no reason to sulk.

  10. I think the negativity is the effect rather than the cause, becasue the parties understand that that Canadians haven’t voted FOR something in a long long time.

    The Mulroney government was probably the last one that large numbers of Canadians actually voted for. Then we rose up to vote against Mulroney in 1993 (even though he wasn’t running) and we’ve been voting against someone or something ever since.

    fired up about Lieberals and adscam, Liberals were voting against the sinister forces of the hidden right wing agenda. NDP’ers voted against corporate control, the Bloc voters were against the ROC, the Greens against pollution, ABC’s against Harper as pointed out above by Jarrid.

    We need someone with a unifying vision, left, right or centre, whatever those terms mean anymore, to inspire us or we’ll continue this downward spiral in the quality of debate and discourse.

  11. Conservatives were … fired up about Lieberals

    (worse typing than usual need new glasses)

  12. Wow – there are either some very young posters here or some people have forgot how ad’s and negative framing can work and has worked very well for the Liberals in the past. I seem to recall a brilliant campaign by the LPC against Joe Who! (brilliant) they framed Joe Clark’s image with ads and rumours and the pundits climbed on board unmercilessly I know I joined them, in either event his term and pain was short so that’s something. Then I seem to recall all the LPC ad’s and again media pundits against Stockwell Day – because he looked weird in a wetsuit getting off of his jet ski (another brilliant attack by the LPC) – I could go on endlessly here. There is nothing new it is the same old tactics that are tried and true.

  13. If I cared enough about this, I would want to see how the Q was framed. This has all the markings of a push-poll. Q: Did a mean and nasty ad turn you off? I’m surprised the response wasn’t even higher than 10-11%.

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