That mythical ‘undecided’ voter

That mythical ‘undecided’ voter

Are you sick of the election TV spots yet? Because I sure am.

They are all the same. The politician — Trudeau or Scheer mainly, although Jagmeet Singh popped up this week too — stares earnestly into the camera. They speak — in a soft, gentle voice — of an ideal land where we all could dwell, if only we elected the speaker. And then the soft gentle voice continues as they completely trash their opponent(s).

“There he goes again,” says an exasperated female voice in the Conservative commercial. He, being Justin Trudeau. Now, not everybody will remember this, but back in the 1980s this was a very effective line in a debate uttered by none other than Ronald Regan, about his opponent Jimmy Carter. It was meant to imply all kinds of things. That the opponent is wont to go off on ridiculous rants, that the opponent is lying, or otherwise untrustworthy, or simply childish. Reagan had the particular ability to smile like a jovial uncle while he eviscerated you. And the “there he goes again” is pretty effective.

The Conservatives also have an ad out that tries to place Trudeau as a mini Trump, coming right out and saying that the two are exactly the same. Now, I know Trudeau has some ’splainin to do about the SNC Lavalin affair, and the latest “blackface” debacle, but equating him with Donald Trump, whose list of scandals and embarrassments is somewhat, shall we say, lengthy, is a bit of a stretch. You may think Trudeau was awful to to stick his nose into a private comp[any’s legal troubles, but Donald Trump has yet to reach the bottom of the awful of which he has proven himself capable. It’s too much of a stretch to compare the two, and therefore I don’t think that ad works.

It’s not that we, the common folk, can’t be manipulated by a good negative attack ad, but we’re not stupid. Trudeau is no Trump.

Very obviously all these ads are appealing to the mythical ‘undecided voter’. But does such an animal really exist?

I mean how are you undecided between say the Conservatives or the NDP? You either lean one way or the other. Left or right. Same with Liberal or People’s Party. Or Green and Conservative.

Yes, the Conservatives and Liberals are neck and neck, but it’s not undecided voters that are going to swing either way between those two parties.

The true Canadian undecided voter is the one who is not sure which of his ideologies is best represented by which party, on their choice of left or right. It’s the voter who is trying to decide whether to vote strategically right now. Take Kootenay Columbia for example.

An undecided voter might like the Liberals nationally, but knows there’s not a lot of point in voting for a Liberal in this riding. So naturally, that voter is either going to lean Green or NDP, and must decide for which party his or her vote would be a more effective choice. That person is not going to vote Conservative. Or People’s Party. That person leans left.

Conversely, a Kootenay Columbia voter who leans Conservative nationally, is not going to vote left. Not going to happen. They are going to be more concerned with which candidate — Conservative or People’s Party — speaks to their ideals more. That person leans right. They are not undecided about their basic political beliefs.

So you’d think that the Liberals and Conservatives, instead of aiming their TV ad buys at each other, might want to attack where they are in danger of losing votes, on their right (Conservatives) and left (Liberals) flanks.

Or better yet, forget the attack ads. Just tell us what you plan to do. And then keep your promises.

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