Bruce Anderson is the chairman of polling firm Abacus Data, a regular member of CBC The National's "At Issue" panel and a founding partner of i2 Ideas and Issues Advertising. He has done polls for Liberal and Conservative politicians in the past, but no longer does any partisan work. Other members of his family have worked for Conservative and Liberal politicians, and a daughter currently works for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He writes a weekly digital column for The Globe and Mail.
Every day, I run into people who are really into politics. And on Twitter and Facebook, it happens almost continuously. Some love what Stephen Harper stands for. Some believe he's run the worst government they've ever seen. And some are attentive, but undecided. For them, a change may be tempting, but staying the course doesn't feel all that wrong either.
In describing these people who take their politics very seriously, I'm really talking about roughly a third of the population. That's how many follow politics on a more or less daily basis.
The large majority of people spend little of their time thinking about who's doing or saying what in Ottawa. Their opinions are soft. Fluid might be a better word.
When asked if I think something said or done by one politician or another will be a game-changing flashpoint, almost always my answer is no. Very few incidents in politics draw huge attention, and some that do fade pretty quickly from public memory.
Some say politicians have caused widespread disaffection: that their conduct has been so bad, who can blame folks for tuning them out. But a bigger cause than disaffection, in my view, is that we're distracted.
There's an enormous volume and array of information coming at people continuously. Much of it is moulded specifically to our interests and packaged in ways that are impossible to ignore.
In contrast, when it comes to packaging and entertainment value, politics can struggle to keep pace. In a world where our eyeballs are the subject of more and more intense competition, politics often loses out.
But there's some reason to question if this election will change a few things.
For decades there's been a decline in voter turnout, to the point that you might wonder if that trend would ever stop. But some recent provincial elections suggest a different scenario.
Turnout in Alberta was at the highest level in 22 years. In Ontario, after five elections which saw declines, turnout was up almost 4 per cent. In British Columbia, turnout jumped to 58 per cent from an all-time low of 51 per cent in 2009.
So this election could be a good-news surprise in terms of turnout. What are the factors that could boost participation?
A tight three-way race with an unpredictable outcome is a good starting point. Predictability is boring.
Add that parties have plenty of money and will be using the latest, most sophisticated techniques to package and target their messages.
You'll hear more from politicians you are open to, and less from those you aren't. What you hear will be tailored to your interests and you won't have to go looking for it – it will come to you.
If you use social media, your friends and acquaintances will be sharing views, columns, videos and news items about politics with you.
The leaders of the main parties are all effective communicators, and have personalities with some edge to them.
There are well-organized third parties from across the spectrum that will be in the advertising and communications fray as well.
Put it all together and you've got the potential for an election where a surprising number of people could make their way to a voting booth on election day.
Whether more voters will also be more informed voters is a separate question. Political advertising is about persuasion, not education. Usually, the bulk of media coverage will focus on the battle, rather than the issues. Leaders' tours are about photo opportunities, and showing the flag in key local markets.
But on the other hand, with the prospect of multiple debates and a four-month-long campaign (counting from when the House rises to when the election happens), there's actually a pretty good chance that more voters will become familiar with the different policy options on offer. As news media change, a lot of people will consume stories that contain detail about the issues they care most about, because this type of coverage will come to them, they won't have to go out of their way to find it.
So, for a change, we might actually see more voters, and more informed, engaged voters, decide the outcome of this election.
If things turn out this way, whose interests would it serve?
Pretty much everybody's.