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ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM

It's down to the wire. Tomorrow's the election. Is there anything more the campaigns can do at this point to influence the outcome?  ONW's Strategists let us in on what goes on in the final hours.

ONW: Harkening back to your campaign experiences in the past, at this point, if you're the campaign manager, what are you doing for these last couple of days?

Blair McCreadie, PC Strategist:

At this point, every party and local campaign is focused on GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts. Turnout at the advance polls this time is 20% higher than in 2007 which, in my view, speaks to a strong desire for change. That said, unlike recent provincial elections, the outcome on Thursday will actually be driven by on the ground organization and whose supporters are more motivated to actually get out and vote.

Michael Rosenstock, NDP Strategist:

At this point in the campaign, everyone is focussed on getting out the vote they've identified over the weeks of knocking on doors and making phone calls. The party leaders are hammering their key high level messages in these last few days, but its ultimately up to campaigns to mobilize people at the polls. 

Camille Labchuk, Green Strategist: 

It’s critical to remind voters that they will never get what they want if they don’t vote for it. Instead of voting for the best of a bad bunch, a ballot is far more powerful when cast optimistically for a party with real solutions and long-term vision. Internally, it’s time for local campaigns to focus 100% on mobilizing identified voters on voting day. Every vote will be critical in this tight race.

Bob Richardson, Liberal Strategist:

These last days are critical in order to get your supporters to the polls. The ground game takes on significant importance. This is a tough election so every vote counts,  particularly in marginal seats where the difference between winning and losing could be 5% points or less. Ontario Liberals are organized with an army of volunteers, good local campaigns and sophisticated technology to help organize this effort.

ONW: If this is all about the ground war now, and about mobilizing the riding troops to get out the vote, how does a local campaign manager do that?

Blair McCreadie, PC Strategist:

Each local campaign manager is continuing to recruit a team of 200-300 volunteers to knock on doors of identified supporters, make phone calls, and create presence in high-traffic areas to mobilize supporters. I expect that social media channels will play a larger role this time in GOTV efforts. However, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact on doorsteps across Ontario.  This will be especially important in those tight seats. And, if recent polls are to believed, there should be quite a few of those on Election Night!

Michael Rosenstock, NDP Strategist:

For local campaigns, it's about getting those volunteers at the door step reminding folks about election day. Phones are important, but strong campaigns will have people knocking on doors from morning till polls close. Blair and Bob are right -- we could be seeing some very close races.

Camille Labchuk, Green Strategist: 

A winning campaign manager will have laid the groundwork for a victory well before E-Day. A strong campaign with the potential to win will have attracted hundreds of volunteers by now – volunteers who have spent all day, every day, knocking on doors and making phone calls to identify their party’s voter. On election day, the emphasis shifts to driving those voters toward the polls in any way possible.

Bob Richardson, Liberal Strategist:

Local campaigns have been engaged with door to door canvasses, phone canvasses, candidate door to door, social media activity etc etc… for weeks. All this information is organized into identified lists to get out the vote. A good get out the vote effort can make a 3-5% difference which is a big deal in this election. We are organized and ready to roll!

ONW: If you're managing the central campaign, under what circumstances do you put a leader in a bubble when they're ahead? And when do you do the opposite - getting every bit of exposure possible?

Blair McCreadie, PC Strategist:

Some campaigns might employ that strategy as a way to maintain message discipline, or where voters are experiencing fatigue with a particular Leader.  However, with two days to go in an election campaign, I think that every provincial leader will be driving hard, trying to reach out to identified and accessible voters, and doing everything they can to mobilize their supporters to vote. Every political campaign is structured to put their leader in an environment where he or she is comfortable, can perform well, and deliver a clean message.  A lot of time is spent by tour volunteers trying to find events and opportunities that work well for an individual leader, and play to his or her strengths.  But I think that political campaigns are also becoming more creative in finding ways to directly engage voters.  As an example from a PC perspective, Tim Hudak has been directly engaging voters through telephone town halls, which has given thousands of voters an opportunity to hear from him directly, and ask questions in an interactive format.  Social media has also played a significant role in this campaign, as evidenced by Tim Hudak's 23,000 friends on Facebook.

Michael Rosenstock, NDP Strategist:

If you're worried about how a leader will handle unexpected moments -- from the protester to somebody who has had a terrible experience with an issue you're campaigning on -- you try to script your leader at every opportunity and keep them away from risky scenarios. Andrea connects really well with people and we've been trying to get her out "mainstreeting" as often as possible. 

Camille Labchuk, Green Strategist: 

Never (isolate the leader in a bubble), hopefully. One reason voters are so disengaged with politics is the perception that back room operatives micromanage every aspect of a leader, and his or her message and image. The Greens do politics differently – we're not afraid to move off the script, we're not afraid to talk about our policies, and our candidates want more interaction with the public and the media, not less. The Greens will always be open and engaged, give substantive answers, and go for maximum exposure in the final days of a campaign. Tight message control throughout (e.g., the federal Conservatives) may be effective in some circumstances, but at what cost? The price we pay is bored and disengaged voters, who are offered talking points instead of honest answers.

And if a leader can't handle unscripted, random interactions, do we really want this person to govern Ontario?

Bob Richardson, Liberal Strategist:

I think in the closing days of the campaign you want to be in an environment that helps you get your main message out. Look for Ontario Liberals to be showcasing the jobs issue. I said at the beginning of this election in a 'Thought Provoker' that the party that best addresses the job issue will find themselves employed at Queen's Park on October 7th. I still believe that this will be the case. I think all the Ontario provincial  campaigns are much more free-wheeling than we saw with the federal Conservative campaign, which was tightly controlled and scripted from start to finish. That being said you don't go out of your way to find trouble! Erring on the side of caution at this stage is not a bad idea!

ONW:  Thank you and a final goodbye to our ONW Strategists, as this marks our last session.  We've enjoyed your insights into the campaign.  ONW tips its hat to all those, from every party, brave enough to put their names on the ballot tomorrow.  

Posted date : October 05, 2011
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