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ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM

ONW's CAMPAIGN 2011:THE STRATEGISTS

They’re back at it again. Political strategists Bob Richardson, Blair McCreadie and Michael Rosenstock bring their political expertise to bear, parsing the parties' strategies in week two of the Ontario election campaign.

 

ONW: PC leader Tim Hudak is no longer using the phrase "foreign workers" when it comes to describing the Liberal tax credit for professional immigrants, instead now calling it an "affirmative action subsidy". Was using the "foreign workers" phrase a strategic mistake on the part of the Tories?

 

Blair McCreadie, PC Strategist:

Absolutely not - this issue is about the Liberals, not the Tories. The Liberals said one thing when they announced the policy. Then, facing a backlash, they had to further clarify who would be eligible. This affirmative action subsidy is just more evidence that the Liberals are completely out-of-touch, and are making this up as they go along.

 

Bob Richardson, Liberal Strategist:

The PC's have changed their messaging (indicating a mistake) and have been changing their advertising frequently. That is usually the sign of a campaign in flux (been there, done that!). We have been clear and consistent with our advertising tour and on the ground strategies (focus on jobs, health, education). We are running 100% ads with our leader on those 3 topics. Clear and consistent from the start, no daily zig zag.

 

Michael Rosenstock, NDP Strategist:


Both parties have changed their messaging/tact here. Liberals rushed to clarify Saturday while Tories dropped some of the heated rhetoric around “foreigners.” Perhaps that's a sign that both parties know that what people want to hear about are positive solutions to the jobs crisis - not more attack-style politics. Andrea Horwath has been doing just that, hitting hard on the jobs theme for the past week.



ONW: Some pundits say the Liberals are hiding Dalton McGuinty. Can the party overcome the fact that McGuinty's personal popularity has decreased over the last year or so?


Blair McCreadie, PC Strategist:


With the kids going back to school last week all across the province, I would have thought that Dalton McGuinty would be talking about his "record" on education. Instead, he's struggling to sell an affirmative action policy that helps only a select few, rather than the 500,000 Ontarians who are currently out of work. Liberals are off-message, and off campaign script. But while the Liberals flounder, the bigger challenge may be for the NDP. The affirmative action subsidy has been the focus of media attention in the first week, and it has squeezed the NDP out of the frame. As for your question about Dalton McGuinty, the Liberals know he's a liability. That's why he had to acknowledge in his own TV ads that he "wasn't the most popular." Voters have made up their mind on McGuinty - that's why the Liberals are trying to focus their campaign efforts elsewhere.



Bob Richardson, Liberal Strategist:

If we are supposed to be hiding our leader then someone should be fired on the campaign because we are doing a bad job of it! :):). He is in our ads 100% percent of the airtime (focus on jobs, health, education). Our tour obviously focuses around the leader. The platform (conveniently on my desk as it should be on yours) has photos of him throughout and quotes him extensively. We are proud of our leader and team. We are not hiding anything.




Michael Rosenstock, NDP Strategist:


Horwath's on TV every night is talking about real solutions on jobs, and suggesting that the bickering and nasty rhetoric isn't helping anyone find a job (like those corporate tax handouts.) This week she said Hudak and McGuinty are running a "groundhog" campaign: pop their head up -- hit the negative talking points -- and disappear. I wouldn't be surprised if that message takes hold and people take notice.



ONW: That's an interesting point Blair made about the NDP. Has it gotten squeezed out of the media coverage or might that actually benefit Horwath because the other two parties are at each other's throats so she's not a target. The NDP is up in the latest 3 polls to 24 per cent - Harris Decima, Nanos and Ipsos.



Blair McCreadie, PC Strategist:


Any "bump" that the NDP has received can be attributed to the fact that people want a change and, for some Liberal/NDP switchers that means a vote for the NDP. Admittedly, I'm intrigued to watch the NDP campaign this time. Horwath is clearly a departure from the one-dimensional angry man routine that Howard Hampton delivered in three straight elections. And the focus of their platform would suggest that they're aiming at seats in places like Windsor, London, Hamilton, Ottawa and Thunder Bay, rather than their traditional core vote. The key question is whether Horwath can translate any lingering goodwill that exists towards the federal NDP, and turn it into an actual gain in seats.



Bob Richardson, Liberal Strategist:


I think the NDP has been getting a free ride to date. One, very little scrutiny or analysis of their platform by the media, academics etc. It deserves to be reviewed in the same comprehensive fashion as the Liberal and Conservative platforms have been. Two, coverage of their leader has been far less 'tough' by the media then it has for Hudak or the premier (this is classic 'nice' coverage for the leader of the third party and has nothing to do with gender). Third, I think there continues to be somewhat of a 'halo' effect from the passing of Jack Layton that benefits New Democrats. It remains to be seen whether that will be reflected at the ballot box.

 

Michael Rosenstock, NDP Strategist:


At least we know it's not because of the right wing media conspiracy, to paraphrase the Finance Minister. But seriously, to Bob's point, bring on the heavy scrutiny. It's a fully costed platform that speaks to priorities - jobs, affordability, and health care. I'd also say this: it's clear the Liberals and Tories don't want to be talking about positive solutions. Whether or not the platform leak was intentional, both parties think they're going to make hay on immigration. Really they're just turning voters off.

ONW: Interesting commentary, gentlemen. Thanks very much. Chat to you next week.

 

 

 

 

Posted date : September 14, 2011
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