Thursday, May 23, 2013

Liberals Down In All Major Polls, Arrogance Is Up

Justin Trudeau is popular? It doesn't matter.

The federal Liberals are still extremely behind in the polls. The last three major polls conducted, with 100% accuracy, show the Liberal Party is far behind the Conservatives and in fact the Grits are at their lowest level of support in Canadian history. Those polls were of course conducted in the last three general elections and they are the only ones that matter.

A lot of Liberals will take refuge in a new opinion poll out that shows their party with an incredible lead, 44% to the Conservatives' 27%, with the NDP even further back at 20%. Other Liberals will dismiss those results recollecting the multitude of erroneous polling results from recent provincial elections.

But regardless of any calm rational thinking, this new poll will make all Liberals, at least in private, sneer and grin; as if they are already looking out their PMO staffer windows, peering down at all the Conservative MP assistants scurrying with scavenged cardboard boxes full to the brim with various framed pictures of Stephen Harper.

Liberals can try to publicly downplay this recent opinion poll in an attempt to lower expectations, to keep the focus on the government, or to just keep their party from getting complacent, but all of that will do nothing if Liberal officials fall victim to the same pervasive arrogance that just recently brought down the NDP in British Columbia.

For two years prior to the May 14 provincial election, the BC NDP were polling far ahead of the BC Liberals. To ensure supporters would still go out and vote, NDP Leader Adrian Dix repeatedly dismissed the numbers, claiming that he was in fact the underdog. But while he and his officials were publicly disavowing the NDP's popularity, privately they were letting arrogance cloud their judgement and ultimately cause their downfall.

For all the claims Adrian Dix made that the election was going to be close, the only explanation for him choosing not to run attack ads was that he was extremely overconfident that he was going to win. The same can be said for the New Democrats failing to use public information from the anti-HST petition and mobilize government opponents. Arrogance is also the only explanation behind the NDP spending money to produce an expensive video for election night that intended to introduce Dix as "the next Premier of British Columbia".

The lesson from the BC NDP for the federal Liberals is not to rely on better polls or to try harder in lowering expectations, it's for their party officials, for their staff, to always keep on fighting, to never take anything for granted, and to simply not be arrogant.

Justin Trudeau and those around him can take pride in deciding not to run attack ads, but the idea that he doesn't need to shows the Liberals have a lot to learn.

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