As soon as the TV debates were over Stephen Harper went up in the polls a point higher than he had been before the debates.
He breathed a sigh of relief; Michael Ignatieff a sigh of despair.
The figures came from Frank Graves’ Ekos research, the same firm Harper used to bad-mouth. But when the stats come out the way Harper likes them, no cheap shots from the PM.
Harper went up two points to 35.3 % and the Liberals slipped down a notch to 27.8 %. No consolation for Ignatieff.
Not surprising. After all, Harper was good in the debates. He didn’t make any mistakes or say the wrong thing, or worst of all, get angry and throw a hissy-fit, what his organizers feared.
But Ignatieff had trouble getting into a grove and reaching out to people. He said all the right things, didn’t get angry or mean, but he did have trouble connecting.
What most people didn’t notice was that Jack Layton went up two notches to 23.7% after the debates. It was only two points, but that’s double what anybody else had gone up.
For the NDP, 23.7 % was really something – more than the party has ever had in its history.
It’s what pollsters call a “trend” -- that magic word that is more important than raw numbers when you’re trying to figure out where we are going. Still nobody really took notice.
“Must be a blip because Layton was so friendly and funny in the debates,” they said. “After all he made jokes and in the French debate was every bit Gilles Duceppe’s equal.”
Layton was so happy when he saw the figures that he charged over to the Bell Centre to watch a Montreal Canadiens game against the Boston Bruins.
When Brian Gionta scored first, Layton who was sucking on a beer, began yelling: “We scored first, we scored first, when we score first we win. That means we’ll win tonight.”
He kept on yelling like a madman. . . . or maybe like a Canadiens fan.
Reporters quickly rushed over and taped him yelling his head off. It made all the radio stations, and the internet, and television.
It was one of those magic moments, that even the best spin doctors can’t organize.
Nobody noticed but Layton was on his way . . . . up.
And oh yes, he was right about Canadiens. They won that night.
They usually do, when they score first.