--> Getting It Right: James’ Pre-Debate Campaign

Friday, April 29, 2005

James’ Pre-Debate Campaign

With all the opinion polls leading up to the May provincial election showing that the public had no clue who Carole James was, the NDP strategy should have been obvious – show her off.

But being shackled psychologically to their disastrous past government must have had an impact on their campaign planning because they decided to hold off until the very last moment to launch their platform or showcase their leader.

And then, in an unexpected twist, Carole James decided to make the campaign about trust. Given the fear that lingers in BC voter’s minds about the last NDP government, it seemed an odd choice. In order to achieve a win, Carole James needed to demonstrate that her NDP had repudiated their past – difficult to achieve when candidates from the Glen Clark era and overt ties to organized labour were dragging her down.

Did the Debate Have an Impact?
The debate was not the breakthrough moment that her flagging campaign needed. Yes, her three day break leading up to the evening did allow her to be well-prepared, but her lagging in the polls meant she needed to shake it up in a major Gordon Wilson sort of way and she just doesn’t have the experience to make that happen.

On TV, Adrienne Carr offered fire and passion, qualities that Carole James lacked. Gordon Campbell was statesman-like – he knew going in that he was going to be attacked and he rightly kept his focus on the vision of hope and prosperity for our province under his government.

What became clear, though, was that Carole James, while great at attacking the BC Liberals, was definitely not great at articulating a compelling vision for our future. It was clear that she had given up campaigning for government and was just hoping for a reasonable opposition showing.

Now What?
In classic losing campaign fashion, some NDP candidates like BCTF union hack David Chudnovsky are stepping away from the ill-advised trust message that Carole James is peddling. While Carole James may be able to secure the NDP a number of seats more in line with traditional status, she is not going to be able to provide the breakthrough that her NDP followers had hoped for.

Polling has consistently revealed that BC voters believe the best choice for Premier is Gordon Campbell – and nothing Carole James has done has changed their minds.

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