After the latest Forum Research poll placing the Tories at a dismally low 28 per cent in voter intentions and the Liberals at an impressive 40 per cent, some are wondering if the Tories can bounce back and reclaim their popularity before October 2015. According to the ultra-partisans in the Twitterverse, the Conservatives have already lost the next election. Two words for them: get real. The Tories are a fighting machine when it comes to elections and campaigning, they know what they're doing. With two years remaining, time is on the Tories' side.
The Liberals are gaining largely at the Conservatives' expense because of a knee-jerk reaction from the polled electorate in response to the recent Senate scandals, which is due to the fact the three senators in question were former Tories. Never mind the fact that there are conflicting reports continuously coming out of the PMO, which never looks good for the incumbent prime minister. Whether Mike Duffy's allegations against Stephen Harper are true or not, the front pages of newspapers and the top stories of the major news outlets are not helping the PM's image.
If anybody should be gaining from the senate expense scandal it should be the NDP, thanks to Mulcair's strong performance in the House of Commons. It's curious to see the Liberals gaining support, since Mulcair seems very natural in his position. Trudeau is more of an empty shell during question period; his words sound rehearsed and insincere at best.
The Liberals are gaining support from those protesting the Tories, not because people believe in their ideas. Besides legalizing marijuana use in this country, not much policy talk has come from the Liberal camp lately. Moreover, the strategically planned signing of the Canada-EU free trade agreement hasn't seemed to misdirect attention from the Senate scandal, for the time being. The free trade deal, among other things, is something the Tories will exploit and use to sell themselves as the pro-business and pro-jobs party from now until the next election.
It is also rather interesting that the Liberals, of all parties, are gaining during a scandal from an institution in which they are infamous for manipulating and using for patronage appointments. And while the Tories could be seen as having done the same thing over the years, they have promised continuously to either reform or abolish the Senate. When that reform will come is anyone's guess however. Granted, that's easier said than done, especially now that Quebec is getting in the judicial way, as it usually does.
Something the Tories do have on their side is money, and lots of it. The Tories are a powerhouse when it comes to grassroots fundraising, outperforming both the NDP and Liberals by far. In 2012 alone, when one would expect fundraising dollars to be on the low side, the Tories raked in $17.3 million from 87,306 contributors. Comparatively, the Liberals managed to get $8.1 million from 44,466 contributors, more or less half the number of contributors the Tories had. The NDP raised $7.7 million from 43,573 contributors. Needless to say, the Tories need not worry when it comes to fundraising, as they raised more than both their closest rivals combined. Also, given that the Tories have so far managed to raise $9.4 million in just the first two quarters of this year, it's looking like it is going to be another good year for them, at least financially-speaking.
Redistricting may also play well for the Tories as 30 new seats will be added to the House of Commons. The Tories will, if not dominate, at the very least be competitive in most of the new ridings west of the Ottawa river. They are being added to the suburbs surrounding Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto, which are fertile ground for the Tories. These ridings play well due to their young family, as well as multi-ethnic demographic. These are your typical small c conservative voters; interested in low taxes, a sound economy and safe streets, which are all typical trumpeted Tory hallmarks.
Thomas Mulcair may also prove to be more of an asset to the Prime Minister and his team than a liability. For the moment, Mulcair's interrogative style in the House of Commons is proving to be quite a pain in Harper's side. If anyone thinks Mr. "Angry Tom" Mulcair will let Trudeau eat away at his Quebec base without a fight, they are sorely mistaken. At the present, the NDP's base comes from Quebec, which is not where you want your base to be, considering Quebec's notoriously fickle voting patterns. As easily as they'll vote for you in one election, they'll turn on you in the next. As it stands, the NDP and the Liberals are tied in the province at 31 per cent each, according to the last CROP poll, which is a definite improvement for the Liberals, but a noticeable dip in NDP fortunes.
The Liberals are growing in popularity from the Maritimes to Ontario, straight on to BC. The next election may very well be framed as an anti-Harper election, and if the NDP isn't already worried about losing the Anyone But Conservative voters to the Liberals, they should be. Scaring the living daylights out of NDP voters is something the Liberal party is used to and is good at doing. Fear-mongering is something that just may have traditional NDP voters holding their noses and voting Liberal in the next election, solely to kick out the "dangerous right-wingers" currently governing Canada.
While the NDP and Liberals duke it out for the centre-left vote, the Tories will come in right down the middle, maybe even possibly wining more Quebec seats, where there is a closer race in the Quebec City region than elsewhere in the province. While all parties deplore losing to vote-splitting, they sure love wining because of it, and it's far from being a solely Conservative advantage.
Ultimately, voting day is going to come down to bread and butter issues yet again. As much as the opposition parties would love it to be, the main issues will not be about the Senate expense scandal, and as much as they would love the current media coverage surrounding the issue to stay the course until October 2015, it won't. The Tories still have two whole years to build on their record, and they will effectively sell it to voters. Granted, they have a lot of time to screw up, but they also have a lot of time to repair and patch-up the leaks that have been plaguing them recently.
This article was originally posted in the Prince Arthur Herald (http://princearthurherald.com/en/uncategorized/dont-write-the-tory-obituary-just-yet)
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