No matter what happens tomorrow, the NDP are likely to have the best showing ever in a federal election - a victory for a party that has never been able to ‘break through’.
As exciting as it is for the party, the pundits, and the people of Canada to watch the phenomenon of the Orange Crush, let’s not kid ourselves in thinking that the NDP have earned this surge in popularity.
There are only two reasons that they will have wins tomorrow - the arrogant attitude of the other parties and the popularity of Jack Layton.
Let’s start with the Bloc. A new friend of mine (a French butcher from the Eastern Townships) shared with me yesterday that the self-congratulatory hoopla last year about Duceppe’s 20 years in politics made Quebecers question what exactly voting for the Bloc has done for them. Answer: not enough when the economy is in rough shape.
Add to that the perception of corruption in the provincial Liberal Party and the general repudiation of Harper’s social conservatism and you are left with… NDP by default. Jack’s performance in the French debate impressed and made him the surprising alternative.
The Quebec polls touting the NDP surge got the rest of the country to take another look at the NDP.
In orange strongholds like Hamilton, the NDP candidates are hard working and well-loved (incumbents in 3 ridings). But Hamilton is an exception not the rule and the NDP fielded some unprepared and unimpressive candidates in many places. Their platform is ideological and untested.
But no matter, because the Conservatives and the Liberals have made enough mistakes to clear the way for the NDP to come up the middle.
Harper may have won the messaging war in this election but his message of “give me a promotion or else” was hardly inspirational and smacked of unabashed arrogance.
He aimed low and may hit a low target. Add to that the foolish negative attacks (which works in a two-party system because you are the only one left standing - but with a plurality of parties you may destroy one rival aka Iggy only to have another one benefit aka Jack).
And then there is the imploding Liberal party - so far away from their peak power years that they embarrassingly have had to truck out the likes of Copps and Chretien to rally the troops (and one sound bite from him yelling “Vive le Canada” had more energy than Ignatieff managed the entire election.)
Ignatieff started on the defensive against Harper’s Coalition attacks, failed to sell a succinct platform, and frankly looked downright insecure in the televised debates. They are so sure they will be in power eventually they ran an unfocused, lazy campaign which ultimately lacked leadership.
So that brings us to Jack. While Harper’s negativity and Iggy’s incompetence underwhelmed Canadians, Jack’s friendliness, optimism, and energy excited us in the final days of a boring campaign.
He’s the guy with the highest favourability which really matters when you have an election without an issue.
The last minute attack on his integrity with the lame wanna-be massage scandal just shows how much the other parties fear how much we like him.
So when the NDP wins what it will tomorrow the credit goes to Jack.
The other parties should ask why they rubbed us the wrong way.
The answer is arrogance. Plain and simple.