Monday, November 29, 2010

Byelection Day

Today is the federal byelection day. Two of the three seats open are in Manitoba.

The campaign has been very low key. Conservative candidates have dodged debates and reporters. It remains to be seen whether the electorate will have issue with that.

The northern riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette will be a difficult riding to dislodge from the Conservatives. Whatever the merits of the other candidates, the voters there tend to support the right of center and Conservative candidate. There has been no indication that the Liberals or NDP have found an issue or a candidate that could change the dynamics of what is considered a safe seat for the Conservatives.

The Winnipeg North riding in Winnipeg is a different story. In general, this has been a seat that the NDP can count on. It was only in the 1980s when the NDP and Progressive Conservatives were deeply unpopular both on the federal or provincial fronts. It was the Liberals who took advantage of this dynamic and landed a seat in the riding and it took some time for the NDP to gain it back.

What makes this election different is who the NDP is facing this byelection. Kevin Lamoureux has carved out a level of support in the heart of NDP territory. A good chunk of the federal riding contains his provincial seat. While Kevin Chief is a good candidate for the NDP, the party has rarely faced someone who can organize at Lamoureux's level.

Still, byelections are difficult to predict. The NDP has the advantage for sure and the better oiled election machinery. Voter turn-out will be key. Whichever candidate gets his vote out will win this election.

Whatever your voter intentions, get out and vote. As mentioned, byelections are unpredictable. A confident party can be stung by their own supporters who stay at home believing the result is in the bag.

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