Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Ballot Box Question

This federal election is going to end in an odd way. Because of the Thanksgiving Day Weekend coming up, tomorrow is the last effective campaigning day. Door knocking and phone calls over this weekend will not go over well. This can not be accident and has to be what the Conservative party had in mind for the election.

Effectively the public is going to have a three day break from the in your face politics before they vote because of the holiday. On Tuesday people will be going to the polls after a weekend with the family or friends.

The media will still be looking for something to cover in the election, but will be devolving to images of politicians and turkeys. Serious analysis will be hard to come by over the weekend and so the pundits will be sniffing at every political turd as if it were a fine wine trying to say anything.

The weekend will be a defacto dead zone for polling - no one is going to get good results if they are calling on this weekend. If the companies are dumb enough to release anything after tomorrow morning, the pollsters will be that fine wine for the pundits.

The weekend is a holiday weekend - people are not watching the news or reading papers as they normally do.

The public is being given three days to think about the election without the noise of the campaign. It is over this weekend that a lot of people will come to terms with what matters to them out of this election, the so called "Ballot Box Question".

The media, public and politicians are going to come into election day blinder than they have been as to the outcome than at any point in a generation of more.

Thanksgiving is a time where a lot more people sit around a table in a larger family group than normal. The dinner is longer, there is more chance for talking and the election will come up in a lot of places. Because more often it is going to families and not friends around that turkey on Sunday and/or Monday, there will be less agreement about politics. Most of us have friends that broadly agree with us about politics (I admit I do not fit that generalization) but come from families where political differences do exist.

Groups of five to fifteen adults will be talking about issues over the weekend. In the context of thankfulness they will be thinking about the economy above all else. This could lead to a lot of people going to the polls on Tuesday thinking about who is going manage the crisis the best. Whether the partisan people like it or not, the person that will inspire the most confidence with economic issues will be Stephen Harper.

Another ballot box question that could come out is "Why bother voting at all?"

There has been a huge attempt by two parties and a number of online groups to make the environment the ballot box question, but as far as I can see that is dead in the water at the moment and likely for several further years.

This very different situation of election timing reinforces to me that I do not have enough data of the right type to be able to have any confidence in a prediction. Though my gut tells me if it is the economy that is the issue people think of, the Conservatives could gain a lot of 30 second Conservatives on Tuesday.
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