“Well,” Paddy asked before I even sat down at our table in the coffee shop, “what did you think about that?”
As he was clearly referring to the Ontario election results I simply replied, “Quite a shocker, wasn’t it?”
“It sure was,” he agreed. “What did you think was going to happen?”
“I would have bet the farm that it would be a minority government, and at the outset of the campaign I thought that the Conservatives had the best chance of forming it.” I answered. “But as the campaign wore on I figured it would be a Liberal minority.”
“You never even considered a majority by either side?” Paddy inquired.
“Never,” I replied. “I thought the Liberals had too much baggage and that Hudac would, as he’d done in the past, find a way to screw up his campaign.”
“You never did think much of Hudac, did you?” Paddy suggested.
“Nope,” I agreed. “And I think even less of his so-called strategists. This is the second election in a row that was his to win, but both times they managed, as the saying goes, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
“What do you think was their biggest mistake?” Paddy queried.
“Putting numbers on their job promises,” I responded. “The 1,000,000 job creation figure and the 100,000 civil servant cut promises were both stupid and unnecessary. They should have just promised to foster job creation and make cuts to government spending without getting into those specifics.”
“Why do you think they did it, then?” Paddy prodded. “And do you think it was Hudac or his advisors?”
“I have no clue as to whose idea it was.” I replied. “And the only reason for doing it that I can think of, wrong-headed as it was, is that Hudac believed, or was talked into believing, that it would solidify his base.”
“Well,” Paddy asked, “what’s wrong with that.
“With the Liberals on the ropes and the NDP largely directionless,” I opined, “the Conservatives weren’t going to lose any die-hard voters. They should have concentrated on getting votes from the undecided and from disgruntled Liberal and NDP supporters. But introducing those specific job numbers, and continuing to emphasize them, had the complete opposite effect; it attracted no new votes and lost them a number of supporters. Hudac’s base clearly had a lot more civil servants, and their voting friends and relatives, than he or his advisors thought; and they lost a lot of them.”
“What did you think of Wynne’s campaign?” was Paddy’s next question.
“Although I did think it was pretty good,” I said, “it was obviously a lot more effective than I had judged it to be. She was consistent. She kept her promises sufficiently vague by avoiding stupid specifics, such as unsupportable job numbers. And even though she was a key member of the McGuinty band of rogues, she obviously convinced an awful lot of voters that she’d been on the road to Damascus and wouldn’t operate that way in the future.”
“What about Howarth’s campaign?” Paddy asked.
“Did she have one?” I answered.
“I guess that puts that to bed,” Paddy averred, then asked, “Were there any other differences between Wynne and Hudac that you think led to her big win?”
“Wynne was a lot more likeable and far less robotic than Hudac.” I said. “She had no difficulty straying from her talking points when it was to her advantage to do so, whereas Hudac seemed incapable of uttering a phrase, let alone a sentence, that he hadn’t practised with cue cards in front of a group of handlers before setting out each morning.”
As Paddy got up to leave he asked, “Any other observations about the campaigns?”
“Yes,” I said, “Hudac once again proved that charisma can’t be learned.”