Martin Regg Cohn has an interesting post mortem of the Ontario election. He concludes that, because the Liberals pulled their bacon out of the fire a couple of times, their fall was destined to be a hard one:
Had the Liberals not risen from the grave in the three previous elections, there would have been far less accumulated animus. Had they lost in 2014, as everyone expected, they likely would have easily retained at least two or three dozen seats, not the historic low of 7 seats.
By surviving previous elections, they postponed the inevitable reckoning — setting the stage for a far harder fall in 2018.It's important to remember how the Liberal benefited from past Conservative and NDP mistakes:
In 2007, under an embattled Dalton McGuinty, the Liberals were rescued by the faith-based school funding proposed by then-Progressive Conservative leader John Tory — a political leap of faith voters wouldn’t take. In 2011, an unpopular new PC leader, Tim Hudak, could only reduce the tired Liberals to a minority.
After McGuinty bailed out, Wynne’s ascension allowed the Liberals to fight under the banner of “change” in the 2014 election — promising pension reform and a new kind of politics by the province’s first woman premier. Let’s not forget, however, that Wynne didn’t so much win the election as the Tories lost it under Hudak, while the New Democrats lost their way under Andrea Horwath.
Knowing that Wynne was unpopular, the Liberals concentrated on policy: "promising a $15 minimum wage, Pharmacare for young and old adults, free tuition, and free child care for pre-schoolers."
But the animus against Wynne and the Liberals was simply too strong to overcome:
Voters were beyond buying what Wynne was selling. It mattered little if the experts noted the Liberals had a better child-care proposal than the NDP, because Ontarians tuned them out (or perhaps we’ve learned that most voters aren’t moved by the issue, unless they happen to be on a waiting list for daycare). Even if Wynne had a winning performance in the main televised debate, she was no longer on the scorecard of most voters.
For the Liberals, the election was unwinable. But the truly sad part of the story is that the so called Progressive Conservatives -- under Doug Ford -- won.
Image: Toronto Star