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Robert Silver

A bad night for the Liberals Add to ...

I could try to spin last night's by-election results. I could repeat the facts that I put forward yesterday that the Liberals have only won the four ridings that were contested last night one time out of the last 32 opportunities and therefore not winning was to be expected. I could point out that our electoral system doesn't award a gold star for strong second finishes - you either win or you are the first loser - and therefore some of the NDP spin is a bit much.

I could do all of that but I won't.

Last night was a bad night for the Liberal Party. To use the mandatory daily sports analogy, just because we knew the Toronto Maple Leafs would be terrible going into the season, doesn't make it any more acceptable when expectations are realized once the season begins.

If nothing else, the by-elections could have been used to road-test the Liberal campaign team, tactics, messages - anything that would have at least returned something of value and benefit to the party.

There used to be talk in Liberal land about a "308 riding strategy." And by "used to" I mean six months ago. The 308 riding strategy doesn't mean the party instantly becomes competitive in every riding or that you literally split your resources equally as between every riding. It does mean you put time and resources into growing in parts of the country where you are weak and grow in those ridings over time. Another name for it might be playing the long game.

Let's just say that last night reaffirms my hunch that the strategy is still a tiny bit of a work in progress.

 

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