There was some conversation in my previous post about what seats, if any, the Liberals will hold. A couple were mentioned and by all means, if you have your picks, feel free to mention them.
However, here’s my take on why even traditional, rock solid Liberal seats are in play this time. WJM mentioned Cartwright. I would have said Bellevue. There may well be a few others. But I think all of those are at risk. And it’s not just because Williams is insanely popular province-wide. Provincial popularity doesn’t translate directly into provincial districts. If the local MHA is a good constituency person, is personally well liked in the area and the people there are happy at how quickly he or she returns their calls and gets things done for them, then that cuts down some of the premier’s personal popularity.
This election is going to be interesting in that it’s going to not so much be a province-wide campaign, but several local ones. Put it this way, it’s not war. The war is won. This is all about little local skirmishes. The Tories don’t need to worry about 75 per cent of the seats in the province. They are a lock. I would be surprised if Williams spends more than three days in St. John’s. The Tories will win them all (sorry Simon. I hope I’m wrong) with the possible exception of Lorraine Michaels.
Instead the Tories are going to be concentrating their firepower on the remaining Liberal seats in rural Newfoundland. Williams is going to visit Gerry Reid’s district more than he’s going to visit St. John’s. Because in case you haven’t noticed, our premier holds a grudge. Williams could win 47 seats and lose Reid’s riding and he would consider it a disappointing election. He wants to beat Reid.
Every Liberal incumbent still standing is going to be under tremendous pressure. Visit from the premier and cabinet. Intensive advertising campaigns in the local papers. The whole nine yards. The Liberals will fairly quickly have to give up the notion of a provincial campaign or even taking seats from the Tories and just keep heaping sandbags to hold off the flood in the districts they hold. We’re talking guerilla warfare in about six ridings. For the rest of the province, I suspect this is going to be a very quiet, fairly dull election.
Elections are normally windfalls for media with advertising. But I’ll be curious to see how much money is spent and where. For example, I think the Telegram is going to do poorly with advertising dollars. We’ll see, but I think the Tories, and especially the Liberals, are going to want to very specifically target where the money goes. Unless things have changed in recent years, very few people outside the Northeast Avalon read the Telegram. They read the local community papers for their news. Papers with major battles happening in them are going to make good money.
I think this election, when it’s all said and done, is going to remind me of the last few American election. Where most of the country is ignored because it’s a foregone conclusion which candidate is going to win there. The real battles are in a half dozen or so “swing states.” Whichever way they swing determines who wins the election. Except this time the half dozen or so “swing” districts are all Liberal, and which way they swing decides if Williams has to face an opposition on the other side of the house, or just more friendly faces he couldn’t squeeze in on his side.