The Referendum On Harper

My new Daily Standard column comes out today, titled “Morning In Canada?”, in which I argue that the new elections will stand or fall as a referendum on Stephen Harper. The task for the Tory leader is to go over the heads of the media, a la Ronald Reagan, and deliver a campaign reminiscent of the “Morning In America” effort that won Reagan a landslide:

How likely is a return of Liberal rule after the Gomery disaster? After twelve years of Liberal control, first as a majority and then as the plurality in the Commons, the Tories bear the burden of convincing Canadians to cross the aisle–and Gomery alone may not be enough to break the Liberal hold on power. Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, has to convince voters that Tories offer more than just a gainsay of Liberal policies. Harper needs to deliver a “Morning in Canada” agenda, one that promises a transformation for the nation.

Two G&M reports from their latest polling offer contradicting prospects on Harper’s ability to do that. The first reports that Harper’s negatives still remain high; however, it also shows that the positive message has gotten through to Canadian voters. The second development is a trend among minorities to support Conservatives over the Liberals, in some cases because of the latter’s support for same-sex marriage. The G&M polling still shows a five-point advantage for Liberals, even with Ipsos and others showing the election at a dead heat, something to consider when reviewing the G&M take on the numbers.
Harper just released his plan for a GST cut, which should boost his numbers in the next round of polling. We’ll see if the media reports on those numbers any better than they did with Ipsos.