Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Harper's Nascar Gambit

The news that the Conservative party is sponsoring a car on the Canadian Nascar circuit is quite interesting. It is consistent with a strategy premised on appealing to the working class Tory. An additional benefit is that the sponsored car belongs to Pierre Bourque, owner of a pro-Conservative news aggregating web site.

However, the comparisons to the U.S. miss a key point. Car racing's popularity has traditionally been rooted among white male southern blue collar workers - who until Reagan came along were all Democrats. It made sense for the Republicans to work hard at wooing these voters who would feel a continuing tug to return to the Democrats. The Republicans in the south even to this day still have a bit of a country club image.

However, the kind of voters that are likely to be influenced by Harper's effort are probably already predominantly Conservative voters. And Harper is paying a price in the form of damage to the strenuous efforts the Conservatives have made over the last six months to appear more environmentally friendly.

As Jack Layton put it:
I know one thing's for sure is they'll now have their name on some of the emissions here in Canada and I'm not sure that was necessarily the wisest decision.

Often Harper does not appear to think things through, or else the party does not engage in enough internal debate about ideas like this. If enough people had been involved surely one would have pointed out the environmental downside. Whatever the benefits might be to the Conservatives they are more than offset by the additional blow to their already dwindling environmental credibility.

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