October 20, 2015

7 lessons from the Conservative loss in the 2015 Election

Hamish MarshallRebel Commentator

1. Branding Justin Trudeau as “Not ready” was a strategic mistake.

After 10 years in government the Conservatives were facing a change election. Change was always going to be the ballot question for many voters. Playing on Trudeau’s looks and ineptitude actually helped to make him look different from the status quo. Being unready is also code for “new” (as compared to Harper’s “experience”) which is what change-seeking voters were looking for. The weakness with “not ready” is that it can be disproven with time. Expectations were set low for Trudeau, and by beating those low expectations he proved he was ready. “Readiness” is not a fundamental character flaw, like Dion’s lack of leadership skills or Ignatieff’s ego and selfishness – it is a resume flaw that can be fixed with time.

2. No Conservative Platform
The Conservative platform was essentially the 2015 budget with no new promises. The party was content to run on its record. With no big idea from the government the election was going to be fought on change and with a focus on personalities. With the PM’s public persona having a net negative impact on party support this was a risky strategy. The PC’s won the 1988 election by making it a referendum on a big idea: Free Trade – this made the election about different visions for the future – not their record and personalities. The Conservatives ought to have promised something big – on the basis that the now balanced budget made it possible.

3. Consequences of a Liberal victory came far too late
The last week of Harper and the Conservative paid advertising were good and they may have staved off more seat losses (the Conservatives did out-perform the final polls). In order to convince people that Trudeau was not just unready or unserious, but dangerous to their personal finances, the message needed to come far earlier. It should be have been rolled out in June or August not October.

4. The Conservative coalition is actually quite strong
Despite losing 89 seats the Conservatives only got 235,000 votes fewer than in 2011. Harper’s team got 5.6 million votes. In this election the Conservatives got more votes than in 2008 and 2006. 5.6 million votes is an incredible base to build from. What defeated the Conservatives more than the loss of votes, or the collapse of the NDP to the Liberals was the huge number of new voters. Turnout will be in the range of 69%, with 3 million more votes cast than in 2011. The vast majority of those new voters supported the Liberals.

5. Chinese voters stayed Conservative
The two suburban seats that bucked the trend and stayed Conservative – Markham-Unionville and Richmond both have something in common. They are the only two ridings in the country where Canadians of Chinese descent make up more than 50% of the population. Other ridings with significant numbers of Chinese voters in both Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto saw far less of a drop in Conservative support. Other ethnic groups followed the general swing to the Liberals.

6. The media narrative can only accommodate a two-horse race in the final week
Like the 2015 Alberta election the final week the media focused entirely on two parties. Even though not all polls showed the NDP in complete free fall – they simply fell off the map. Segments and articles about them got shorted and vanished altogether. I’m sure the NDP had some decent fight back messages in the last week, but I have no idea, as I never heard them. This is important to understand from an election narrative perspective – the final week will always be a binary choice and so your campaign must be ready for that.

7. Candidate recruitment matters
I am not generally a believer in star candidates, but Conservative candidate recruitment was sorely lacking in this election. With many incumbents in good seats retiring there ought to have been more of an effort to present new faces that would reinvigorate a government about to enter its second decade. Think back to 2011 when candidates like Chis Alexander, Joe Oliver and Michelle Rempel helped present new faces that could freshen up the ministry. The one exception in this election was Dianne Watts whose personal popularity certainly saved a seat which would have been lost by a lower profile candidate.



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commented 2015-11-07 09:13:52 -0500
Although I think Harper was the best PM we ever had, he deserved to lose and here’s why:
www.leonupsidedown.blogspot.ca Harper’s Big Mistake
commented 2015-10-27 15:34:13 -0400
Nathan…..pulling our six fighter jet pilots from fighting ISIS………letting in tons of refugees………legalizing pot…….allowing reservation chiefs the right not to be transparent…….increasing the tax for those earning 200T or more…….taxing more & more to feed his promises…..& on & on. Is that what your change is? Well there’s nothing new in that, other than the pot legalization, he’s simply repealing everything good that Mr. Harper has accomplished. If you’re happy with that “change” well la di da.
commented 2015-10-27 14:53:43 -0400
Andrew Stephensen,….the CBC & other left wing media including newspapers….unions…..“hate Harper” movement….“anyone but Harper” movement funded with foreign money…….young uninformed voters, etc all contributed to the Liberal win. The word “change” meant nothing to me because I am not as dumb to think that just because the Libs repeated this word, I would forget how Mr. Harper did a tremendous job in keeping Canada strong during the recession & then go & vote Liberal. Why would I do that?? Conservatives have more brain than that.
commented 2015-10-22 18:12:05 -0400
Nathan, little baby Trudeau has no resume. The average MP has 3 times the qualifications Trudeau ever had.
commented 2015-10-22 10:39:33 -0400
1) “not ready” was a mistake because he WAS ready, and he proved in each and every appearance that not only did he promise change, but that he personified the change that a great number of Canadians wanted.

2) Agree. Where’s the real PC party? Come on guys. Stop trying to cherrypick the next 0.2% of the electorate with tailored bribes and offer some truly credible argumentation for the neo-liberal perspective.

3) I disagree that the later adds did any good. If anything, it reinforced how much people hated the mean-spirited, low blow petty and childish politics that personified Harperism, when he was not busy running roughshod over the constitution or other democratic institutions.

7) 100% agree about candidate recruitment. I think this can be attributed directly to the failures of Harper’s style of leadership. What self-respecting person wants to run for office, only to be muzzled, told when and where they can say what, etc. etc. I know there’s a need for consistency, but if you want to get real broadbased leadership, Party Of One is the absolute wrong strategy. This weakness in the bench has long been clear throughout – what was Pollieviere’s primary qualification? He was irrationally partisan and would do whatever Harper told him to do. This is symptomatic of how the Harper Party drove away real leaders, able to truly engage with the electorate and earn their respect.
Marce – there’s nothing wrong with pot. Reefer Madness was complete BS propaganda. Aspirin is more dangerous.
commented 2015-10-21 09:21:04 -0400
Charleton G – I was actually trying to be fair to PM Harper, so I must not have gotten my point across. Sorry!
commented 2015-10-20 20:39:46 -0400
Benjamin Reid is a pompous ass. We Saskatchewan people vote for the principles we believe in while people like you behave like a bunch of pot smoking lemmings racing over a cliff.
commented 2015-10-20 20:25:54 -0400
Popular vote – Trudeau elected on less numbers than Harpers last victory!

Quote – One of the quirks of Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system is that a party can take the majority of seats without winning a majority of votes. That was certainly the case in 2011, when the Conservatives won 166 of 308 seats — or 53.9 per cent — but only 39.6 per cent of the popular vote.

In terms of the ratios, the 2015 story is almost identical. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals took 184 seats — 54.4 per cent of the new total of 338 seats — with 39.5 per cent of the popular vote. – End quote

See cbc url where they state this:


It is cbc so it MUST be true!
commented 2015-10-20 19:10:31 -0400
ISLS is going to love us now that Trudeau is pulling our military out of the coalition.(Don’t forget,his father hated the military). Give it time, Canadians will eventually discover the reality about Justin Trudeau and his governing, spending ways.When people start the whining, first thing to ask them “WHO DID YOU VOTE FOR”?
commented 2015-10-20 19:00:25 -0400
Atlantic Canada, especially Nova Scotia, should vote the day after the election. Now we have a double wammy…Liberal provincially and federally. Don’t hold your breath,…we still won’t get anything.
commented 2015-10-20 18:35:36 -0400
Unfortunately, it is easy to understand what went wrong, After the fact.
commented 2015-10-20 18:25:16 -0400
Vlad I always love your posts. Indeed, a nation that actually watch Michael Moore movies like they are the God honest truth are going to disappoint. I liked what the Libertarian party leader said a week ago. “Canadians like a person that tells them what goodies are in store for them. They also like someone to just tell them, ‘It’s all going to be OK. We are the government and we got your back’” Self reliance and appeals to individualism may be appealing to many south of the border, but barely strikes a chord here.
commented 2015-10-20 18:19:47 -0400
We need to discover what turned 235,000 voters away from the CPC. They held their base, but did not attract the sway voter. I think part of what was said here could be the answer. A swelling of new voters in a larger turnout was comprised of dedicated Harpers haters. They could not stand a Canada that had a strong military tradition. They couldn’t stomach a Canada that saw the truth about the global warming baloney.
commented 2015-10-20 18:14:11 -0400
Drew Wakariuk – and the party that turned the Jews away during the second world war, to be killed by Hitler. The Liberal party has brought much shame on our great nation. And is the reason our kids are barley taught Canadian history in school. We wouldn’t want future generations to know the truth about the Liberal Party, or they would never win another election again.
commented 2015-10-20 17:38:09 -0400
The party that brought us residential schools is in charge again LOL
commented 2015-10-20 17:37:48 -0400
Benjamin Ried PET raped Alberta in case you missed it. Now tell us why we have to support you other grown ups
commented 2015-10-20 17:36:51 -0400
Benjamin Ried how about other provinces grow up and stop being have nots.
commented 2015-10-20 17:35:33 -0400
The media party had a larger role in this election, however, in my view the largest single factor was the Conservatives not giving anyone something big to chew on. A senate restructuring initiative, free trade agreement among the provinces, some initiative to revitalize the economy of Atlantic Canada so they can be an economic force again; something more than keeping taxes low (which is good) that could take us up to another level in prosperity.
commented 2015-10-20 17:25:33 -0400
where were these reasons yesterday when EZRA and POSTMEDIA was endorsing CONS????
AB and SK are only two provinces who are so gullible and still living in fear of other parties….. grow up and join the rest of Canada….
commented 2015-10-20 17:24:05 -0400
Cue 4 years of left wing excuses. Jimmy i sure hope you never leave the Rebel i am going to enjoy your silly excuses.
commented 2015-10-20 17:22:40 -0400
Jimmy Da Silva Justins campaign and the left live on fear mongering buddy and the majority was due to the losses of the NDP, now be prepared to hear reality about our new PM constantly.
commented 2015-10-20 17:16:48 -0400
We didn’t seem to have a strong finance minister after the loss of Jim Flaherty.
commented 2015-10-20 17:07:28 -0400
add the other one here… you have got to go with the media flow, if they don’t like you, then say it, make light of it, don’t insult them, just get them thinking, thus their audience will start thinking. it is difficult to edit material when you are live or they are putting together sound bits, because that is what they work from. Making them feel like you hate them, will only make them hate you, making them feel like you are helping them do their jobs, makes them want to help you do your job…
commented 2015-10-20 17:02:37 -0400
good overview…add… get on the street, let people express themselves, don’t be afraid of challenges, be prepared for how you will react…I went to rally here in Fredericton, after going through security twice it took the drain right out of any excitement, it didn’t help that Keith Ashfield (CPC incumbent) was exciting as a stump which just lost its tree top, as he announced PM Harper….I was really surprised on how well the CPC did once it got out of Maritimes.
commented 2015-10-20 16:59:21 -0400
Roland, really. You have to be pretty strong to withstand the incredible bile that was constantly streamed in his direction. Hiding in a closet… Remember that? What closet will King Justin The First of His Name choose? You can only go hard to the right so far, before you fall off a cliff.
commented 2015-10-20 16:56:53 -0400
What’s with the communist clusterfuck that has arrived below – did the paid torstar hate bloggers get the day off??

The Conservative message was “status quo” which is great to someone with reasonable intelligence, but we live in a time where “entertainment” matters more – something these emotion addicts will pay for later on. Hyperbole is in. If you can round up enough idiots and sing from the same song sheet (and pay them minimum wage like George Soros does), it becomes the truth.

pig troodo wasn’t elected. The shitstream media spun so much hatred over the last 10 years that voters turned again PM Harper. The conservative/ independent voice had no media representation until SNN (set up to fail by Quebecor) and Rebel Media – Ezra/Brian get entrepreneurs of the year!!!

And the voters eventually bought the media party endless hatred, much like the Germans bought the hatred enough to slaughter 12M in concentration camps, of which 6M were Jews.

The disturbing part of pig troodo is his partnership with islamic terrorism. If islamic terrorists blow things up in Canada, it will be interesting to see how pig troodo responds. Islamic terrorists/Islam are the pawns for the socialists (and their “houses”) to do their bidding.

Canada chose a camp counselor over a seasoned economist. These are the kinds of decisions people make when they are filled with so much hatred.

Get ready for pig liberal fraud, theft and to get your asses taxed raw Canada. You chose pig troodo (and his bulimic pig wife) and now we all get to live with vermin filth.
commented 2015-10-20 16:54:05 -0400
He wasn’t conservative enough. He pandered to the left too much which frustrated a lot of us. You cannot appease the left no matter how much you give them. Example; In 2011, he flushed $149 million down the phony Climate Change rathole.
I sent him letters with comments like;
" Rather than acting like a bunch of liberals and trying to appease the socialist left wing hoard, you should be taking strong decisive positions and policies".
“Cut the CBC budget by 2/3rds or better yet, privatize it and let them figure out how to survive in the real world.
You should be doing all the hard responsible reductions now, early in your term so you have some goodies to hand out before the next election.”
“What is so difficult with cutting $10 billion a year in a $279 billion bureaucracy? That’s only approx. 3.5%. Should be a piece of cake and achievable by getting rid of a lot of redundant left wing Cretien leftover bureaucrats.”
“Systematically downsize all Ministries and departments. Start with the academic global warming activists in the Environment ministry.”
There just wasn’t strong leadership. You didn’t see Obama pussyfooting around with his agenda, (as stupid as it is) he is still getting his things done.
You don’t get a majority very often and you have to get it done so it is harder to undo and some of it sticks. Watch how aggressive Trudeau will be with his ruinous agenda, as he copies Obama. He won’t be trying to appease the Conservatives.
commented 2015-10-20 16:53:05 -0400
Excellent! I must agree that the media and union money and influence was huge in this election, as referenced by other writers below. I was shocked at how blatant their bias was. And since there is no alternative on TV,
that will continue, unfortunately. The Liberals really did pick some good candidates and they did run an energetic and idea filled campaign….our campaign was less than inspiring. But I am full of hope for the future of the party and the country, and not because we have a new PM…
commented 2015-10-20 16:34:37 -0400
Marcel I agree with you ‘Sell the CBC’.