BY JENNIFER HOEGG
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Who is watching Kings-Hants?
National media, political pundits, strategic voting campaigns don’t mention it, and no national leaders have dropped in.
West Nova, on the other hand, has been visited by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, is on several lists of ridings to watch and is being targeted by strategic voting initiatives.
“When the election first started, that riding and South Shore-St. Margaret’s were the ones external pundits were looking at,” Dr. Lori Turnbull says, joining Halifax and Sydney-Victoria on the national watch list.
“A number of interesting candidates in the province” and tight races means Kings-Hants may have been overlooked by commentators, the Wolfville resident and Dalhousie associate professor of political science says.
Liberal Scott Brison’s five previous wins by comfortable margins may be a factor” he’s a “high-profile, scandal-free candidate,” Turnbull says. “He hasn’t had a lot of negative press.” Even his 2003 floor crossing after the Progressive Conservative-Canadian Alliance was not typical, she points out: “his party left him.”
Brison won the 2008 election with 44.2 per cent of the vote, versus 26.1 and 22 per cent for the Conservative and NDP candidates, respectfully. This time round, Conservative David Morse is a familiar name from his decade in Province House - but Kings-Hants “is not one of the ridings the Conservatives are targeting.”
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Even West Nova seems to be under the Conservative radar, despite the fact to win a majority government, the Conservatives need to keep their current seats and win 12. Incumbent Greg Kerr has not had a high profile stop from his leader. Ignatieff’s visit and intense Liberal targeting of the riding might give Robert Thibault an edge.
The effects of strategic voting campaigns are hard to predict, except for the effect on smaller parties: “there is no way strategic voting will help the Greens.”
If the NDP growth in the polls last week holds, voters making strategic choices might be stymied and local NDP vote tallies might change.
“If Layton and the NDP look as strong as the Liberals, what is the strategic advantage of voting Liberal?”
Turnbull is hesitant to make predictions, except that voter turnout will be low because of the largely negative campaign. Whatever the polls suggest leading up to May 2, election predictions are difficult, she points out.
“A quarter to half of people make up their mind in the last 48 hours.”