Role Of Talk Radio And Blogs In Canadian Election Campaign
What Influenced Canadians? Plus: Moore Unhappiness
As all sides of a hard-fought Canadian national election contest nervously await returns tonight, the big post-campaign analysis question is already clear: what may have finally brought down the Liberal Party, after over a decade in power?
Corruption scandals, arrogance, a swing too far to the left, or some combination?
While the Radio Equalizer has long watched Canadian politics as well as any American can, today's circumstances are somewhat confusing. Since voters have so often been willing to overlook Liberal sleaze in the past, what's different this year?
In addition, I'm not as sure as some about polls showing Conservatives with a huge lead. During the last election campaign, I was in the country during a time when similar figures were reported, only to be proven completely wrong in the final tally.
So, if Stephen Harper does get to form a Conservative Party government tonight, what will it have come down to this time?
And, most interestingly, what's influencing voters? Since the last election, there has been a tremendous rise in Canadian political blogging from a number of very high-quality sites.
Also, in America, Captain's Quarters has become a force in Canadian affairs from this side of the border. When Canadian taxpayers faced a questionable ban on publishing the truth about Liberal Party corruption, they turned to Minnesota-based Captain Ed.
How about talk radio? Does it have a significant role in swaying election results, or tend to stay neutral? Canadian talk programming has always been spotty, varying in quality from compelling, to outdated and boring.
And there is no Canadian version of Rush Limbaugh to unite conservatives nationwide. Syndicated political talk is rare in the country.
To get the scoop, the Radio Equalizer interviewed three major Canadian bloggers, all talk radio fans, to find out what really counted in this election season.
Kate McMillan, of the especially successful Saskatchewan-based small dead animals blog, thinks talk radio has had a significant impact on public sentiment. "They are filling a void in the conservative side of the debate shut out on TV, newspapers, etc., for the most part," according to her.
McMillan's station of choice: 650 CKOM-AM in Saskatoon, which will provide live election results tonight.
From Steve Janke's Toronto-area vantage point, the man behind the popular Angry In The Great White North blog sees a mixed influence for talk radio:
"Listen to talk radio? Always. I listen to CFRB in Toronto to and from work," says Janke.
"Do they have influence? Inside Toronto, not so much, it appears. CFRB is generally conservative, but the ridings (parliamentary districts) in Toronto proper (the "416" area) are probably going to remain solidly Liberal. On the other hand, the suburbs (the "905" area) will probably go conservative," according to Janke.
"But the liberal voters probably don't listen to CFRB anyway. Can't influence someone who isn't listening, right?"
And Ottawa, Ontario-based Tory activist and Colbert's Comments chief Brent Colbert sees it this way: "There are very few public affairs talk radio in Canada and even fewer that are right leaning. I listen regularly not only to my local talkers but to Sean Hannity, Tony Snow, and Laura Ingraham."
Colbert does see a conservative talk radio influence in one area: "In Ottawa, the nation's capital, the talk station is mostly conservative and has an influence in voter trends in the city, but its reach is limited."
In his area, Janke spots a pocket of conservative radio strength: "Bill Carroll of the CFRB morning programming slot (8:30 to 11:30am) is boosting the Conservative Party (Stephen Harper) over the Liberal Party (Paul Martin). Bill was critical of Harper in the 2004 election, but since then he says Harper has grown, and Martin has shown himself to be a major disappointment."
How about blogs, since that's where these people are so active?
McMillan: "I think in some cases we work very much hand in hand. Talk radio picks up a lot of stories we find, and gets them to a new audience, and the reverse happens as well."
Janke: "Is the blogosphere doing more? Infinitely more! LOL
"Seriously, radio touches hundreds of thousands -- orders of magnitudes more than blogs. Like blogs, talk radio allows comments. But here's a difference. Blogs are persistent. The posts remains forever, and some posts are read days, weeks, or even longer after they are first posted, while radio shows are heard by those who happen to be listening.
"If you miss the program, it is not likely that you will ever hear it. Some stations archive the audio, but the bandwidth demands can intimidate some people.
"The convenience of the blog for the interested and the curious to follow-up on their research at the time of their choosing might make blogs the first choice for information over radio. Bottom line, talk radio is not in the business of delivering information. It is in the business of selling listeners to advertisers. Blogs are about the readers.
"It'll be interesting to see if any research is showing a shift from radio to blogs."
Colbert sees a link: I am beginning to see the stories in the blogosphere begin to break into the MSM through talk radio. I have talked to a few hosts and showed them this new source of fodder for their shows."
A number of Canadian bloggers also got BBC coverage on the subject, here.
Can't wait for the results, coming in after 10pm and the subsequent reactions from around the world.
Already, Michael Moore is complaining to Canadians about their voting. If the polls are correct, expect a lot of unhappy Randi Rhodes-types tomorrow.
Welcome Instapundit readers!
Update: Michelle Malkin and Captain's Quarters are among those doing an excellent job liveblogging election coverage. For the first time I can remember, C-SPAN is apparently not doing a live feed from CBC News and CBC's own video stream is loaded beyond capacity.
Update: Wait, there it is on C-SPAN 1.
Update: turncoat Belinda Stronach is giving her victory speech now, is her pal Bill Clinton in the room? Bet he'd like to be. Plus, the CBC is interviewing citizens in a coffee house, where a moonbat voter says her concern is that if Harper had been elected two years ago, "a relatively peaceful country would be at war right now."
Update: a conservative, party-independent radio talk show host has been elected to parliament from Quebec City. From an earlier Canada.com com report:
Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier: Another of the rural-francophone ridings near Quebec City where the influence of what is left of the provincial right-wing movement can still be felt. Here the man to watch is not a Conservative, Liberal or even Bloquiste. Independent candidate Andre Arthur, a former firebrand radio host and federalist right winger, is leading the pack.
Update: Paul Martin stepping down as Liberal Party leader. His speech is amazing, totally in sync with the CBC's nonstop "the Liberals are doing surprisingly well tonight" spin that misses the point: they will no longer be in power.
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Top Stephen Harper photo: Conservative Party Of Canada