More scientific polling is now out on the Green Shift, but you might perhaps add this to your electoral math.
Those attending Stephane Dion’s town hall in Oakville found comment cards on their chairs when they arrived. “Your feedback,” attendees were assured, “is important.” On each card was a place for written comments, a question about how you hard heard about the event (email, mail, newspaper, blog, etc.), and, first and foremost, this question: “Was this meeting worth coming to?” Respondents could circle the number of their choice from one to ten—ten indicating the greatest worthiness, one the least.
A spreadsheet summary of the responses provided to me* indicates 369 people answered that first question. The cumulative average of their responses? 8.9.
Now. That can’t be construed as a straightforward endorsement. While not exactly a meeting of the disciples, it was generally a Liberal crowd. And on the question itself, someone, one imagines, could have very easily found the meeting worth coming to merely because it proved to them that Mr. Dion was unfit for office.
But. That a good percentage of the crowd found the night very useful is at least something of a victory for the Liberal leader. As noted at the time, the mere act of conducting a town hall meeting such as that, inviting people to take questions and leaving yourself little room to hide, reflects well on a candidate. John McCain is rather famous for putting himself in these situations and I get the impression Barack Obama submits regularly to them as well. (I read a report the other day that referenced Michelle Obama taking questions at such forums too.) But Mr. Dion is presently alone, to my knowledge, among national Canadian leaders willing to face such scrutiny.
Part of that is, of course, necessity. As the least known, and least popular, of the party leaders, he can’t put himself at a distance, he needs to get in front of as many people as possible in a relatively short amount of time. For that matter, given what little people know and expect of him, he can almost only improve upon his reputation. But he did seem, in my few days of observation, to have embraced the forums. As noted, he was noticeably better a performer there than when confronted with even the likes of his own caucus.
So what does that 8.9 mean? Almost impossible to say. But maybe if Stephane Dion does a town hall everyday from now until October 14 and each audience comes away generally rating it 8.9 out of 10, this might amount to something.
(*While I suppose it’s entirely possible the summary was scrubbed before it was delivered to me, I presently have no reason to doubt it’s authenticity or accuracy.)