Canadian Federal Elections: Who Will Win in 2015?

Introduction

General elections in any country attract numerous candidates who vie for various positions through their respective political parties. The Canadian constitution stipulates that general elections should be conducted once every 5 years. Prior to the espousal of the congressional system of governance, the Canadian prime minister had the discretion of deciding when the elections would be held. However, the congressional system of governance requires elections to be held on a specific date. Canada will hold its 42nd federal elections on 19 October 2015 in line with the country’s Elections Act. The Canadian Election Act stipulates that general elections in Canada should be held on the 3rd Monday of October. The elections aim at electing representatives to the House of Commons. However, the elections will not affect the country’s monarchial system of governance.

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According to Coleman and Neale (2001), political offices in different countries attract numerous contenders due to the associated benefits. The flag bearers for the various political parties are selected through a thorough nomination process. The nominated candidates are required to adopt their respective political parties’ principles and goals, which they should communicate to the electorate in addition to what they intend to do for the citizens during their term in office. Therefore, in an effort to position themselves as the best options, the candidates engage in comprehensive political campaigns in order to ‘sell their ideas’. Subsequently, the success of the various candidates is dependent on the effectiveness of the political marketing strategies adopted.

Therefore, it is imperative for candidates to ensure that they communicate optimally how they intend to create value for their target population. For example, some candidates may intend to create value by improving the citizens’ living standards through the provision of effective public services such as health care and education. Rudd (2009) contends that it “is impossible for politicians to avoid adopting various marketing orientations in their quest to run for a particular political office” (p. 54). Moreover, Rudd (2009) asserts that marketing enables politicians to position themselves as effective leaders after winning their respective positions during the general elections. This paper analyzes who will win the 2015 Canadian Federal elections.

Analysis

Political marketing strategies

A marketing strategy refers to the plan adopted by a particular individual or entity in an effort to succeed in the target market. Subsequently, the marketing strategy is comprised of diverse tools. In a bid to succeed in general elections, it is imperative for the various candidates to adopt effective political marketing strategies. Newman (2001) defines political marketing as “the application of marketing principles and procedures in political campaigns by various individuals and organizations” (p. 1). Organizations should take into account different aspects in an effort to formulate effective political marketing strategies. Some of these strategies entail ensuring effective management of political campaigns and ensuring effective communication of their political ideologies.

Party brands and voting behavior

Numerous studies have been conducted in an effort to illustrate the influence of brands on the voters’ behaviors. Findings of most of the studies show that brands are a critical component in peoples’ lives (Nielsen & Larsen, 2014). Nielsen and Larsen (2014) further argue that brands have an emotional and functional value in individuals’ lives. Brands have the capability of influencing the individuals’ decision-making process in the procedure of selecting from a wide range of choices. Subsequently, it is imperative for political parties to be effective in their branding strategy. Nielsen and Larsen (2014) assert that political parties promise the electorate different services such as improvement in delivering diverse services such as healthcare, security, and education amongst others.

Political brands can assist individuals in making decisions in an environment characterized by a high degree of political complexity. One of the ways through which the political parties achieve this goal is by incorporating effective communication strategies. Political parties brand themselves by integrating effective messages in order to appeal to the emotions of their target populace.

In an effort to influence the citizen’s voting behaviors, the different political parties in Canada have adopted different messages in their branding strategies. The focus is to appeal to the citizens’ voting patterns. The Green Party has branded itself as a political outfit, which will focus on eliminating poverty amongst Canadians. The party intends to ensure that all Canadians are guaranteed a livable income. Furthermore, the party has branded itself by communicating its intentions to promote the wellbeing of people living with disabilities. The party intends to formulate the Disabilities Act. On the other hand, the Conservative Party has branded itself as a political vehicle that will focus on the healthcare sector. The party intends to provide nurses and doctors with incentives in order to enable them to practice in both the remote and the rural areas. Moreover, the party intends to fund brain research in Canada. On the other side, the New Democratic Party has pledged to use over $ 165 million in recruiting additional doctors in order to improve the Canadian healthcare sector. The Liberal Party has also integrated a number of aspects in its branding effort. One of the areas of focus relates to brain health strategy. Moreover, the party is also focused on improving the country’s food safety by implementing a comprehensive food policy.

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Nomination and positioning of candidates

One of the strategies that the different political parties in Canada have adopted entails ensuring the effective selection of candidates. The various political parties in Canada, which include the Conservative Party, Liberal Party, Block, Quebecois, the Green Party, the Independent Party, and the New Democratic Party, undertook their nominations in an effort to select their flag bearers. The chart below illustrates the various nominees for the various candidates.

Party Party leader
Green Party Elizabeth May
Bloc Quebecois Andre Bellavance
Conservative Party Stephen Harper
New Democratic Party Thomas Mulcair
Liberal Party Justin Trudeau

The next strategy after the selection of the right candidate entails ensuring that the candidate is positioned optimally. This goal is achieved through the integration of diverse marketing communication strategies. Positioning is also undertaken by ensuring that the candidate adopts the political party’s policies. This aspect plays a remarkable role in projecting the desired image of the candidate. Furthermore, the positioning also entails marketing the set political platform. The campaign platform is influenced by different factors, which include the selected candidate, the party, the voters, and the people within a given political party.

The next step after the development of a campaign platform entails the selection of information channels. One of the channels that the Canadian politicians can incorporate in their political marketing processes entails pulling marketing. This strategy underscores relying on traditional communication channels adopted by the respective political parties. The nominated candidates will exploit their respective political party’s structures in communicating their agenda to the electorate. In addition to the above scheme, the nominated candidates will also adopt the pull marketing strategies. This strategy will entail the utilization of diverse mass mediums of communication. This strategy will entail advertising through various mass media platforms, for example, television coupled with web-based and print mediums.

Market segmentation (voting segments)

Newman (2001) asserts that market segmentation and targeting are important elements in organizations’ efforts to understand the target market. Companies are increasingly utilizing market segmentation and targeting in an effort to maximize their profitability. Segmentation is also a critical element in politics. Political parties have segmented their target market over the years based on diverse segmentation strategies, which include demographic, psychographic, and geographic dimensions.

Most political parties in Canada will adopt demographic market segmentation variables. Demographic market segmentation entails targeting citizens from diverse economic, age, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics. The Conservative Party has targeted mainly the working class, which is evidenced by the party’s intention to provide nurses and doctors with incentives to enable them to provide healthcare services in remote and rural areas. Moreover, the party has targeted sports enthusiasts, which is evidenced by its intention to improve the various recreational facilities such as a hockey arena.

Similarly, the Liberal Party has targeted voters from diverse demographic backgrounds through its intentions to improve the country’s food policy and reduce lifestyle diseases such as obesity by advocating for healthy lifestyles. Furthermore, the party has also targeted healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors by promising them incentives to enable them to offer services in rural areas. The Green Party has targeted stakeholders in the health care sector through its promise to establish the Disabilities Act and the Health Act. Moreover, the party has also targeted the general population through its intention to establish a national food plan.

Candidate positioning

In a bid to increase the likelihood of winning the general elections, it is imperative for political party’s contestants to adopt effective positioning strategies. Newman (2001) argues that positioning involves a multi-stage process, which commences by a candidate identifying his or her strengths and weaknesses. Newman (2001) further argues that positioning enables politicians to convey their intended image to the electorate, which is communicated by emphasizing the various personality traits of the candidate. Furthermore, candidate positioning also entails emphasizing the various issues associated with the individual.

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In his quest to win the 2015 Canadian Federal Election, Stephen Harper has positioned himself as a political leader who is committed to nurturing a high level of political stability in Canada. Over the years, as a politician, Mr. Harper has nurtured optimal skills on how to control people. Furthermore, Mr. Harper has positioned himself as a politician who is concerned with promoting social justice. On the flip side, most analysts consider Stephen Harper to be an authoritarian leader, which might limit the Canadian effort to remain a democratic state.

Justin Trudeau, who is the Liberal Party’s flag bearer, has positioned himself on a platform of fighting corruption. Justin Trudeau believes that the Canadian governance system has been characterized by numerous cases of corruption, which is enhanced by partisanship and extreme patronage.

Trends in polling

Carrying out market research is part of the most pertinent elements in an organization’s efforts to evaluate the degree of its success. Companies utilize market research findings in determining what to communicate to their target audience. Similarly, politicians should integrate the concept of market research in assessing their strength within the political environment. Subsequently, politicians should be concerned about the poll results conducted by various research firms. Newman (2001) asserts that polling trends play a vital role in assisting politicians to gauge the strength of their political campaigns.

Political parties can conduct different polls in their relay in evaluating their strengths. Examples of such polls include tracking pools, which are conducted daily, and the tracking charts that are usually conducted by renowned research firms at different points of the political campaign in order to determine the electorate’s opinions (Newman, 2001).

A previous poll conducted by Election Almanac (2014) shows that the various political parties in Canada have continued to gain strength within the country’s political environment. This aspect is evidenced by the increment in the number of points garnered by a particular political party as illustrated below.

Date Bloc Quebecois Conservative Green Party Liberal Party New Democratic Party
16thFeb 2014 5 28 6 33 26
18thFeb 2014 5 29 5 37 24
19thFeb. 2014 6 29 4 39 21
5thMarch 2014 8 28 6 34 23
9thMarch 2014 5 28 6 33 27

Source: (Election Almanac, 2014).

The chart above shows that the Liberal Party has managed to sustain a relatively high ranking with regard to public opinion polls as compared to other political parties despite the fluctuations in its rating. The second most prominent political party in the UK is the Conservative Party followed by the New Democratic Party. The performance of BQ within the Canadian political environment is relatively poor as illustrated by the public opinion poll results. The performance of the various political parties in Canada in the future is illustrated by the graph below. The graph shows that the prominence of the Liberal Party has increased significantly.

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National
Source: (Election Almanac, 2014).

Projection on the number of seats

Political parties are committed to gaining an edge in the political environment by increasing the number of seats in the respective legislative arrangement such as the parliament. A study conducted by the Election Almanac (2014) to establish the public opinion poll on the number of seats that each political party is likely to gain shows that the Conservative Party will have the largest number of seats in the House of Commons, which are projected to be 139 seats. The New Democratic Party will be the second, while the Liberal Party will be the third. The Green Party and BQ will have the least number of seats in the House of Commons as illustrated by the chart below.

Date Bloc Quebecois Conservative Green Party Liberal Party New Democratic Party
21stMarch 2012 31 140 1 43 120
27th March 2012 8 145 0 41 119
30thMarch 2014 3 144 0 31 124
2ndApril 2012 5 139 0 58 79

Source: (Election Almanac, 2014).

From the above projections, one can assert that two main political parties, viz. the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, will dominate the 42nd general elections in Canada. However, it is estimated that the Conservative Party will have a higher edge with regard to the number of seats garnered.

Communication strategy (who will use social media)

Effective communication is essential in politicians’ efforts to influence the target voter group (Newman, 2001). Subsequently, politicians should incorporate the most effective communication mediums. The emergence of diverse information communication technologies has provided politicians with an opportunity to improve their public image through effective public relations. Furthermore, the development of different social media platforms has greatly enhanced the effectiveness with which politicians interact with their electorate.

Tom Mulcair, the leader of the opposition in Canada, is one of the candidates who are likely to incorporate social media and digital technology in their political campaign, which is evidenced by the high rate at which they are adopting social media in their communication processes. For example, the likelihood to adopt social media is evidenced by Mulcair’s decision to create a new ‘Weibo Account’ during the celebration of the Chinese New Year. This move set Mulcair as the first politician in Canada to integrate social media in his political campaign. His decision to celebrate the Chinese New Year in 2013 by establishing a Weibo account has greatly enabled him to establish a strong bond with a large number of Chinese-Canadians. Subsequently, social media has enabled Mulcair to establish a strong online community. In addition to the web account, Mulcair has also integrated other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Social media has enabled Tom Mulcair to develop a greater understanding of the electorate’s needs. This assertion arises from the view that he is in a position to interact with the voters through his Weibo account. Subsequently, Mr. Mulcair will be able to improve his political campaign by formulating an effective message to communicate to his target electorate. For example, Mulcair will be in a position to anticipate the voters’ needs. Newman (2001) argues, “Success in marketing goes beyond the simple identification of the needs of consumers but also includes the ability to forecast their future needs” (p. 3). Using social media will greatly enhance the effectiveness with which Mulcair interacts with voters in their decision-making process hence anticipating their needs.

In the process s of conducting his political campaigns through diverse social media platforms, Mulcair intends to create awareness to his target electorate on the prevailing level of corruption and mismanagement in the current regime. His objective is to influence a large number of Canadians to trust him as their leader. Subsequently, Mulcair intends to position himself on the platform of eliminating corruption within the government.

Conclusion

Success in politics is determined by the effectiveness with which political leaders influence the opinion of their target electorate. However, this aspect is considered as a short-term way of measuring success. Despite this realization, politicians consider public opinion as an effective barometer in assessing their performance in the political environment.

In a bid to succeed in the political environment, it is imperative for politicians to take into account political marketing concepts. One of the strategies that politicians should take into account relates to optimal positioning. Furthermore, politicians should adopt efficacious differentiation mechanisms by embracing an unparalleled trademarking strategy. The 2015 general elections in Canada have attracted a number of candidates from different political parties. This analysis shows that there is a high probability of the Liberal Party’s flag bearer, Justin Trudeau, or Tom Mulcair of the New Democratic Party winning the elections. This assertion is evidenced by the effectiveness with which the two politicians have invested in public relations through effective branding and positioning.

Reference List

Coleman, K., & Neale, T. (2001). Presidential elections in the United States; a primer. Huntington, NY: Novinka Books.

Election Almanac: Canada federal elections 2015. (2014). Web.

Nielsen, W., & Larsen, M. (2014). Party brands and voting. Electoral Studies33(2), 153-165.

Newman, B. (2001). A review in political marketing; lessons from recent presidential elections. London, UK: DePaul University.

Rudd, C. (2009). Global political marketing. New York, NY: Routledge.

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