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The rise and fall of the Orange Wave

UtherPenguin
Posts: 3,679
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12/23/2015 10:14:35 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
In 2011 the NDP party saw a stark jump in support, Gaining 103 seats in the House of Commons, and just barely losing to the Conservatives for the status of majority government. Hence leading to the "orange wave"

In 2015, NDP support dissapated almost as quickly as it rose to prominince, loosing up to 51 seats in parliament and reverting back to the traditional third party. This being despite the fact that they held a strong lead in polls from late sprig to early fall campaigning. Losing support just 3 weeks before the election.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com...

To be honest, I still have no idea how the NDP managed to explode in support and then just disappear an election later :/
"Praise Allah."
~YYW
UtherPenguin
Posts: 3,679
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12/23/2015 10:17:59 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Stephen Harper resigns as leader. Jack Layton is dead, and Michael Ignatieff gets replaced with Justin Trudeau....

Thanks Obama.
"Praise Allah."
~YYW
tajshar2k
Posts: 2,378
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12/26/2015 2:08:28 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/23/2015 10:14:35 PM, UtherPenguin wrote:
In 2011 the NDP party saw a stark jump in support, Gaining 103 seats in the House of Commons, and just barely losing to the Conservatives for the status of majority government. Hence leading to the "orange wave"

In 2015, NDP support dissapated almost as quickly as it rose to prominince, loosing up to 51 seats in parliament and reverting back to the traditional third party. This being despite the fact that they held a strong lead in polls from late sprig to early fall campaigning. Losing support just 3 weeks before the election.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com...

To be honest, I still have no idea how the NDP managed to explode in support and then just disappear an election later :/

#CanuckshateCommies
"In Guns We Trust" Tajshar2k
UtherPenguin
Posts: 3,679
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12/26/2015 2:18:58 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/26/2015 2:08:28 AM, tajshar2k wrote:
At 12/23/2015 10:14:35 PM, UtherPenguin wrote:
In 2011 the NDP party saw a stark jump in support, Gaining 103 seats in the House of Commons, and just barely losing to the Conservatives for the status of majority government. Hence leading to the "orange wave"

In 2015, NDP support dissapated almost as quickly as it rose to prominince, loosing up to 51 seats in parliament and reverting back to the traditional third party. This being despite the fact that they held a strong lead in polls from late sprig to early fall campaigning. Losing support just 3 weeks before the election.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com...

To be honest, I still have no idea how the NDP managed to explode in support and then just disappear an election later :/

#CanuckshateCommies

http://i1.kym-cdn.com...
"Praise Allah."
~YYW
Volkov
Posts: 9,765
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12/27/2015 11:25:39 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/23/2015 10:14:35 PM, UtherPenguin wrote:
To be honest, I still have no idea how the NDP managed to explode in support and then just disappear an election later :/

I can tell you!

In 2011, the New Democrats were blessed with an incompetent opponent on their centre-left flank in the Liberals, who had been on a downward spiral since the Chretien years. In particular, Michael Ignatieff and his cohort were absolutely useless in re-energizing the party and were just waiting to be toppled over as the main centre-left alternative to the Harper Conservatives, who for their part had gobbled up a lot of the centrists and special demographics that once clinged to the forever-governing Liberals.

During the 2011 campaign, the course was generally set on a similar result to 2008, which produced a lopsided minority in favour of the Conservatives but with the Liberals a far second. At the start of the campaign, the polls even saw a bit of drift towards the Liberals, as anti-Harper voters started to coalesce. Thing is though, Iggy was not the leader to capitalize upon any momentum like that - he was dry and uncharismatic, and the attack ads against him worked well, defining him as an aloof aristocrat who only sought power, like a walking, talking embodiment of the criticisms attached to the Liberals. He was going nowhere fast, despite his vast credentials. He and his party were also painted as too similar to the Harper Conservatives, with Layton's line of "red door, blue door."

On the other hand, Jack Layton, then-leader of the NDP, was the opposite: effusive, jovial, charismatic, and leader of an upstart group that had nevertheless vastly moderated since its founding in the '60s. He was the perfect fit for the anti-Harper, and better yet he spoke fluent French and knew how to connect to people. Roughly two weeks into the campaign, voters started shifting towards Layton and the NDP a little more and more, until it finally exploded and many voters across Canada unwilling to back Harper decided to back Layton instead. This also had a counter-effect however, as many voters who voted Liberal before but were partial to Harper became worried about a possible NDP and jumped to the Conservatives. This is why all of the sudden in 2011, the previously red GTA turned completely blue, with only pockets of NDP support among some immigrant groups (specifically Sikhs and Tamils) jutting out, as well as all those downtown Toronto hipsters.

Why did it explode, though? Well, the province of Quebec has a very peculiar federal political culture, where it usually swings one way or another and usually in massive waves, look up the 1958, 1962, 1980, 1993, 2004, 2006, and of course the 2011 and 2015 elections for examples of varying sizes. This has multiple causes, but in 2011 specifically, the then-dominate Bloc Qu"b"cois, led for the last decade and a half by Gilles Duceppe, had simply started to wear out it welcome. A forever-opposition party like the Bloc is OK to have when the government you oppose is at least somewhat friendly, but the Harper government, following 2008, was not, so Quebec voters probably started looking for a new option, one that could govern. As said before, Iggy was a no go, but Layton, following some successful media rounds in Quebec, was very popular in the province (helped along by his underdog status) - he simply outpaced Duceppe and Iggy in the novelty and charisma department, and voters shifted en masse, despite the many neophyte, no-name, or non-francophone candidates on the ballot for the NDP. Much has been made about the organization the NDP had built in Quebec as well, but it was never as good as claimed - just enough to serve as a foundation for outreach by the leader. Half or more of those NDP candidates never even campaigned for the job, they were "poteaux," basically orange coloured posts.

So yatta yatta, NDP came in second in 2011, but faced a Harper Conservative majority, the very thing most of their voters feared. Then Jack Layton died from prostate cancer not a half year into his mandate, a sad but not unforseen event (he walked the entire campaign with a cane, probably helped his image if we're honest). The NDP selected an interim leader of Quebec, Nycole Turmel, who had troubles communicating or holding together the inexperienced caucus; very soon after Layton's death, one of the new Quebec MPs jumped ship to the third-place Liberals. The shine quickly wore off the NDP and the Liberals, under the capable interim leadership of former NDP Premier Bob Rae, started competing for their spot in the polls again - that is how quickly allegiances to the NDP started faltering, and a sure warning sign for anyone paying attention.

In April 2012, the NDP held a leadership contest that ended up much more bitterly contested than I think many expected. The main competitor and eventual winner was Tom Mulcair, a uber-moderate, even centre-right Quebecker who had served in the provincial Liberal government under former federal Conservative leader Jean Charest (thats a lot of allegiances), but who had the distinction of being the first Quebec NDP MP elected then re-elected, before 2011 (never happened before) and thus the party's Quebec lieutenant in 2011. His chief opponent was Brian Topp, a backroom organizer who arguably deserved more credit for the 2011 breakthrough than Tom ever did - but he was far from charismatic and ran on a centre-left platform that people thought would scare off the voters they needed to win in 2015. So, Mulcair it was.

Now, Mulcair definitely gave a boost in the polls to the NDP and allowed them to lead the Conservatives for quite awhile, but there started to be parallels that were picked up right away. He was strong in the Commons, but his policy and rhetorical direction often seemed to move away from the common appeal of Layton; like Ignatieff, Mulcair liked to pick at the Conservatives over the nitty-gritty of politics and the government's integrity, expounding on the Senate scandal in the same way Iggy did with the contempt of Parliament motion against Harper in 2011 - serious issues, no doubt, but really only grabbed the long term attention of politicos like myself, not the average voter who got upset then basically forgot about it. Muclair led in the who-cares time between writs, but he never captured the imagination the way Layton did. That was his eventual undoing.

Come April 2013, the much vaunted Justin Trudeau cruised to the leadership of the Liberals. A *lot* can be said about Trudeau, a LOT, but the main thing to remember is this: he may be a policy lightweight, but he knows how to communicate his message, however fluffy, to voters and supporters. Trudeau was charismatic, effusive, jovial and the leader of the underdogs. Sound familiar? Coupled with the continued allegiance to the Liberal brand in the country (provincial Liberals continued to win constantly between the federal elections, and by-election successes propelled the federal party's status as well), Trudeau was essentially the happy-warrior that Layton had been but with an actual organization behind it. Meanwhile, Mulcair and the New Democrats continued their valiant but rarely-remarked-upon-outside-of-Ottawa struggle against the increasingly unpopular Harper Conservatives.

This symbiosis of an effective Commons opposition and strong voter outreach operation would have been a killer for the NDP had they managed it - but at the end of the day, the Liberals outpaced them in the latter, and honestly that is what mattered come election time.

Now, the NDP did start leading at the beginning of the campaign, this is true, but it was a by-product of attack ads against Trudeau, rather than anything Mulcair did. If Trudeau and the Liberals recovered, which they did, Mulcair couldn't stop them if he tried - and I'll explain the reasons behind that in part two. ;)
Volkov
Posts: 9,765
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12/27/2015 11:25:43 AM
Posted: 11 months ago
At 12/23/2015 10:14:35 PM, UtherPenguin wrote:
To be honest, I still have no idea how the NDP managed to explode in support and then just disappear an election later :/

Part deux

So, the election was called in August, and the political field looked pretty favourable for the New Democrats: they led, the Conservatives were second, Liberals were third and seemingly just as vulnerable as 2011 as the shine wore off Trudeau. How could Mulcair possibly screw this up?

Here's a recount of the day the writ was dropped.

Mulcair, in Ottawa, gets up behind a podium and talks about how Harper is a cynical butthead who called a too-long election in an effort to game the system, but the NDP were here to take him down. Then he took zero questions from the media and spent the rest of the day silent.

Trudeau, en route to Vancouver for the Pride Parade, said regardless of the election call he would not break a promise he made to be at the parade with his supporters and the LGBT community, and would take some questions afterwards. Oh, the media crowed at that! How could anyone take Trudeau seriously if he wasn't going to take the election seriously!?

Honestly though, ask yourself which leader you would have a better opinion of: the guy who droned on about politics and vote for me and blah, or the guy who kept his promise to party down in Vancouver and *then* deal with the media.

It demonstrates the difference in styles between the two leaders, but that became even more pronounced once the platforms started coming out.

The NDP are a centre-left party, and thus run on centre-left fluffy things - daycare, healthcare, no war, blah blah, the staple diet of the democratic socialist. The NDP did run on such a platform, but with one key difference attached to it by Mulcair, who as I said was chosen because he was the uber-moderate - they promised to not run a deficit and balance it by their first year or so in office.

Think about that for a second: full-day kindergarten, civil service cut reversals, spending and lots of it - yet no deficits? Mulcair said it could all be paid for by raising the corporate tax rate three percent (from 15% to 18%), but no one really believed him and besides, the rhetoric was tired, worn out, and from Mulcair, utterly uninspiring. They pursued this moderate, plodding direction because Mulcair and his advisors were stuck on the age-old bugaboo for NDP strategists - that voters saw them as "too extreme," fiscally irresponsible and lacking experience in government. They had to throw everything at this problem in order to win, they thought, not realizing they were entirely misreading the electorate's mood.

After a decade of Harper, people were looking for bold vision that stood out from the dreary work of government, a staple of Harper's image as leader - they wanted the anti-Harper, and Mulcair did not come off as an anti-Harper, he came off as a bearded carbon copy. He was seen much like Ignatieff was, and ended up being swatted by Liberals the same way - more of the same, a "blue door, orange door" if you will.

To put it this way: the NDP were fighting to win in 2015 based on how they lost 2011 - that voters were worried about voting NDP because socialism, therefore went Liberal or Conservative. But 2015 was not 2011, and had they been more bold, offered a distinct and workable vision, however fluffy it was, the seating arrangements in the House would probably would be a lot different today.

However, damaging as that was, it didn't end up being the fatal flaw in Mulcair's campaign - the belief Quebec would not abandon the party so soon after voting them in was. Mulcair thought it safe to pursue a moderate path to appeal to the rest of Canada, which tends to be much less radical than Quebec voters are - but of course, their Orange Wave started in Quebec, and if they lost it, it would end there to. As mentioned before, organization on the ground was limited, even after 2011 - donations to the party from Quebec were small, as was participation. That 2012 leadership election saw some of the lowest turnout from Quebec, despite the party's caucus being dominated by MPs from there. But they ignored that, and believed Mulcair would deliver Quebec without even thinking about it. That screwed them over but good.

I suppose the question is why didn't Quebec stick with the NDP. That probably cannot be fully answered right now, but I suspect it was a combination of things, including the lack of organization, Mulcair's plodding ways, and low loyalty to the brand. The thing about Quebec is that while its great when they love you, it sucks if they don't, and the voters are fickle - as demonstrated in 2011, many voters in that province don't necessarily care about sticking with a party, they simply vote the way their passions take them, whether thats for Layton in 2011 or Mulroney's promises of autonomy in 1984, or the hard-hitting accusations of betrayal by Bouchard in 1993. If you're going to on our laurels in Quebec, they're going to move on and you'll end up like all the other past lovers.

Trudeau and his group, meanwhile, were hitting all the right buttons. It worked very well to their advantage to be behind at the beginning of the campaign, because it allowed them to go bold in ways they probably couldn't have if they were the front runners. The Liberals rolled out some fancy and fluffy promises, backed up with the novel idea of not forcing a surplus but instead using the deficit to pay down the social and infrastructure debt of Canada - a visionary platform, so to speak. That coupled with the strong rhetoric from JT - defending his father's record, stubbornly refusing to back down on the refugees question, asking the rich to pay more (while being a rich guy himself) and charging full steam at Harper - it was clear which of the opposition leaders truly seemed in opposition to Harper.

Then suddenly, a reverse Orange Wave happened. Trudeau and the Liberals started leading majorly in the RoC (rest of Canada, or Canada outside Quebec), and the supposed stronghold of Mulcair started catching on too. Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Prairies, BC, then Quebec - all started to fall in line, and by the second to last week, when all such elections are decided, there was no turning back. Mulcair had no way to compete. 2015 was a change election to be sure, but it was about a change in tone and outlook, not just in party colours on the benches. Mulcair and the NDP were doomed from the beginning, truth be told.

And that is the sad story of the New Democrats. Wherever they go no, they won't be going there with Mulcair at the helm. Their best chance ever to form a government - completely lost, and probably won't return for another generation.

On the bright side, the NDP still retained support in Quebec, meaning they may have a new floor they can count on in the province. That bodes well for their future, as part of the problem of the pre-2011 NDP was that they could never convince Quebec to follow them. The problem now is that they've been outclassed by an opponent on their own side of the spectrum - how they handle that, whether they go left or right, establishment or radical will matter greatly.

Oh and I'm sure there are a lot of other little contributing factors to the NDP's demise - Mulcair's snarky comments during debates, the age and generational difference between the two men, the stronger recruitment on the Liberal's part (both RoC and in Quebec), the lack of strong provincial support (Alberta, which recently went NDP, barely had anything to offer their federal cousins, while Ontario's provincial Liberal machine went into overdrive), and so on. There's a lot of stuff that went into this election, but just remember: when voters want change, you better give it to them. ;)