Measuring Failure in Measurable Terms

Analyzing the NDP's long-term potential might be the key to determining its leader's future.

“I can fit the NDP’s increase in vote share in the palm of my hand.”

On Twitter yesterday, after going on a long-ish tear about a piece Neil MacDonald wrote about rape culture for the CBC and my distaste for the intellectually crippling effects of nostalgia on baby boomers, I switched gears and starting talking about the NDP’s fortunes, or possible lack thereof.

The prevailing wisdom among journalists and columnists is that the NDP lost very badly. Not only did the (once and future) 3rd party, which held the balance of power in the 40th Parliament of Ontario, trigger an election by rejecting a bespoke budget, they also apparently pivoted to the right, bungled the campaign, alienated good chunks of their base and transformed themselves from power brokers to has-beens.

Some of these points are more debatable than others. Yes, the NDP did trigger an election the electorate didn’t (at the time) seem to want, and yes they rejected a budget that was essentially written on orange paper. But sparingly discussed is the cost to the NDP of being a power broker too long, when people may eventually only see them as kickstand, and kickstands don’t become governments.

As to the bungling of the campaign, I think all 3 parties ran pretty lacklustre, amateurish campaigns. Who thought “What Leadership Is” was a killer slogan? Who thought repeating “Makes Sense” a zillion times could make up for the absence of a platform, sensible or otherwise? And the Million Jobs fiasco? More that enough has been said about its cynical lunacy.

But what about the contention that the NDP lost a good chunk of their base and that the loss of those votes might banish the NDP to the hinterland? Does that prove out? I wondered about that…

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