'Harper produces feelings that run hot for about 30 per cent ... but produce less passion with the other 70 per cent

Bruce Anderson completes his contemplation with similar advice for the Prime Minister.

If he presides over an all out attack on the personality of Mr. Ignatieff, he calcifies his reputation as a partisan first and to the bitter end. Alternatively, he could try to rebrand himself, an effort which started out well in the last campaign. But the problem with this idea is that it takes longer than 40 days, often doesn’t work, and exposes you to some unique risks. Our society’s fleeting attention mean personality campaigns are becoming more risky than ever, with the prospect of victory or loss turning on a single phrase, photograph, musing, or indulgence.

The best approach for Mr. Harper to break through his ceiling would also be to put some larger ideas on the table. He needs a new, better way to show centrist, female and urban voters that his agenda is truly theirs, that if they reward him with a larger mandate, he will not use it to pursue his partisanship, or to try to impose the kind of right of centre ideas that most of them don’t want. His opportunity is to define a next-generation centrist agenda for Canada.