Are the Mulcair New Democrats doomed already .. or is no one still close to “the big dream of winning it all”??

Sep 29th, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

“NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair poses for a photo with a supporter during a campaign stop in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.” ANDREW VAUGHAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS. And tks as well to the online edition of the Toronto Star.

Just before the week of September 28—October 4 began, we received a tip from the front lines of the ground war. It suggested the Mulcair New Democrats were about to implode, as the 2015 Canadian federal election draws closer to the day of decision on Monday, October 19.

Now that the first day of the week is over, along with its attendant (and quite excellent) “Munk leaders’ debate on Canadian foreign policy in Toronto,” various strands of a similar argument have surfaced at least in the mass media of central Canada.

Lawrence Martin in the Globe and Mail confronted the issue head on, with “The New Democrats can kiss their chances goodbye.”  Meanwhile Tim Harper in the Toronto Star has urged “Mulcair and NDP need a change in strategy …  New Democrats have not been able to put Justin Trudeau in the rear-view mirror …”

Finally, the always careful Eric Grenier on the CBC News site has shown that those who just try to follow the polling evidence have lately had parallel thoughts : “Poll Tracker: Conservatives gain at NDP expense in Quebec, Ontario … 4 different pollsters suggest trouble for the New Democrats.”

In line with the same broad trend, if not exactly dramatically, the cross-Canada Nanos Tracking Poll released at 6 AM on Monday, September 28 had the Conservatives at 33%, Liberals 32%, and New Democrats 27%.

In some quarters at least, this is seen as the start of a transition from a three-way race with roughly equal numbers for all three major parties, to a race dominated by Conservatives and Liberals, with the New Democrats increasingly confined to a dwindling third place.

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We remain sceptical about all this, for the time being at any rate. There are still only intermittent and short-lived signs that anyone is verging on majority government territory.

Similarly, we still remember how, back on August 27, 2015 – not much more than a month ago now, when the entire counterweights Toronto editorial office shut down to attend another seminar series with the technical support group, currently headquartered in Kailua, Hawaii – there were reports that “NDP in reach of majority, new poll suggests.”

Some say the Munk debate on foreign policy, on September 28, was the best such event yet.

We do agree that this particular Mulcair New Democrat prospect has not been realized. Or, as Lawrence Martin explained yesterday : “When late campaign tides set in, they are hard to reverse. While it’s possible the NDP can reboot enough to catch the Liberals, the big dream of winning it all, a dream that looked so achievable at the campaign’s outset, is gone.”

We’d also want to underline that Tim Harper has stressed how, whatever else, Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats “have probably never been better organized on the ground. At this point in the 2011 campaign, the Orange Wave had yet to be detected. Three weeks is lots of time to get back in the game. But it will likely take a change of tone.”

Finally, we think Eric Grenier has words of wisdom worth repeating as well : “The momentum, then, appears to be against the New Democrats and for the Conservatives. But if that continues, it could also be trouble for the Tories …  Or, if the last few weeks of polling are any guide, the numbers could revert to a three-way race in a matter of days. It’s not time to pop the champagne corks or break the emergency glass just yet.”

As best we can make out at this exact moment, the essential struggle in this election is between the Harper Conservatives on the one hand and the combined forces of the progressive Liberals and New Democrats on the other.

The relevant options are still not, say, a Conservative majority on the one hand and a Liberal majority on the other. They are a Conservative majority of seats in parliament on the one hand – with well under 40% of the cross-Canada popular vote – and a combined and decisive Liberal-NDP (or NDP-Liberal) majority of seats AND cross-Canada vote, brought to life by some form of progressive co-operation between the two centre-left parties.

Of course times could change in ways that would make this impossible or unlikely or both. But in our view this has not happened yet. And we remain sceptical that it ever will. (At least until there is more quite hard evidence from the wonderland of polling.)

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