1. The Liberals greatest problem is voter fatigue. During the 2004 election I called it the fourth election problem. At the time I said: In recent decades with but a few exceptions, Canadians have tended to get fed up with the party in power, generally after two terms, but almost always by the time a party is seeking a fourth term. This applies to both federal and provincial governments.
This has no doubt shown up in Conservative focus groups, and explains why Stephen Harper talked incessantly yesterday about “change”, according to the CBC mentioning the word 'change' at least 50 times in his kick off speech.
2. It will be a long campaign and with some measure at least of voter dissatisfaction with the two leading alternatives, I expect some volatility in the polls. Judging by the first Ipsos-Reid survey, this has already started. SES Research announced today they will be doing an enhanced daily tracking poll. Their poll did catch the last second shifting to the Liberals in the last election and the losses suffered at the end by the NDP, but did not get all of it, making the election look much closer than it turned out to be. This time their samples look like they will be large enough to do some meaningful regional tracking.
3. The TV debates were announced tonight, and the change in rules suggests to me that they will work better overall, and that means they have greater potential to influence the outcome. The 2004 debates were a disaster. As I wrote at the time: Cross-talk and noise is incomprehensible to most viewers, and simply discredits the political process. It also means the debates are less influential as a consequence, and end up politically as a wash.
Most viewers will tune out a wall of sound but if debate is intelligible it is more meaningful.