Anyway, they argue, it really wasn’t such a victory after all. Mr. Harper, they say, failed to broaden his base (even though he conquered Fortress Toronto, where he’d always been shut out), and won only 40 per cent of the popular vote (just like Jean Chrétien and Bill Davis). One commentator compared his win to George W. Bush’s “stolen” election of 2000.
If you want to understand why Mr. Harper loathes the mainstream media, look no further. But if you want to understand why he won, you’ll have to look elsewhere. One problem is that the media demonize the very qualities that have made him a success. They hate him for his micro-managing, control-freak ways. But those same qualities have been crucial to his success. Without them, he’d never have survived five years in the bear pit of minority government.
In fact, the Conservatives won because they did the sorts of things the Liberals used to do. They built broad coalitions among disparate groups. Take the so-called ethnic vote. When the Liberals courted new Canadians, it was smart. When the Conservatives do it, it’s sleazy. During the campaign, the CBC assembled countless panels of ethnic people to express their disgust at this condescending and divisive tactic. Amazingly, however, ethnic voters seemed glad to have important cabinet ministers show up in their ridings. They liked the focus on stability and a strong economy. Besides, the Liberals hadn’t been around for years.
The Conservatives’ years of efforts paid off spectacularly. To get results like that, you need a long-term strategy, passion, and someone willing to drink 15,000 cups of tea. The Liberals no longer have any of those things.
The Conservatives profited from vote splits. But they were also able to get out the vote where it mattered. They were focused and had ground troops who worked hard. For this, they’re being accused of running a soulless and technocratic campaign. (When Liberals ran things this way, they were called “professional.”)