Earlier this week, Andrew Coyne introduced a lengthy article on the “cult of personality” surrounding Stephen Harper thusly:
On the Conservative party website, it’s all about “Harper Leadership 08.” Tory campaign ads show us Sweater Steve, shyly revealing a fondness for veterans, immigrants and his kids. Party message-trackers hammer home the point at every turn: this election is all about “leadership.” Or as an early campaign slogan has it: “Strong leadership on your side.”
But, as noted in Saturday’s Calgary Herald, it appears the preferred Tory narrative may have been interrupted by a contrarian electorate:
As the federal political leaders wrap up their first full week of campaigning this weekend, a new poll indicates their performances during the early days may have caused them more harm than good.
The Ipsos Reid poll, conducted for Canwest News Service and Global Television between Sept. 9 and 11, shows Canadians’ impressions of the leaders slipped instead of strengthened, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the worst week of them all.
Thirty-six per cent said their impression of Harper had “worsened” since the start of the campaign on Sept. 7, compared with 32 per cent for his main opponent, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.
“For a campaign that’s supposed to be about leadership, this one’s heading in the wrong direction,” said Darrell Bricker, president and CEO_of Ipsos Reid.
“The prime minister believed that his perceived leadership strengths on the big issues that were facing the country would be enough, and they still may be. But at this stage of the game, this doesn’t seem to be an election about leadership,” said Bricker. “To the extent they are talking about leadership, it’s about gaffes, gotchas, slips of the lips either by the principles or their staff, which is a bad campaign for anybody trying to campaign on ideas.”
Perhaps Uncle Steve meant to say Canadians were more cynical these days, rather than ‘conservative’ (hey, honest mistake–both words start with ‘C’).