If polls like this one are correct (and I remain skeptical – though I was also skeptical of the first poll that showed the NDP beating the Libs), then the NDP has effectively steamrolled over the Liberals and are directly threatening us. A strong NDP means Conservatives benefit from vote splitting. A too strong NDP means and we begin to bleed ridings.
While it is clear that the NDP is riding a wave of populist enthusiasm because the voters are sick to their stomachs of politics-as-usual, in their euphoria they forget the NDP’s noxious extreme-left policies. Stephen Harper’s job is to sober them up by highlighting those policies.
He seems to be doing this already, but given the fact that public is recoiling from the ugliness of negative campaigning, this must be done extremely carefully. Making hysterical anti-NDP attack, a’la David Peterson in the waning days of the Ontario provincial election of 1990, will only backfire and drive voters even further into the arms of Jack Layton. Any hint of fear in the message will be proof that we are panicking.
What must be presented to the voters is a sober cataloguing of the NDP’s extremist policies - carefully explaining why these are a disaster waiting to happen. The name Bob Rae should be brought up in Ontario. This should always be counterbalanced with a positive message of pro-economic-growth policies of the Conservatives. Highlighting the recklessness of reopening constitutional talks is a good start. In rural areas, talk about the NDP’s anti-gun agenda. In the West, explain how the effete, urban sensibilities of Layton are a direct threat to tar sands development. The message must be a judicious mix of positive and negative.
Do that and the voters will have the appropriate sober second thoughts before May 2.