Saturday, January 21, 2006

Admitting you're a Conservative

Here in Toronto it is not easy being a Conservative, or at least admitting it.

Yesterday while out canvassing for Jurij Klufas, my local CPC candidate, one prospective supporter greeted me enthusiatically at his door. Yet when asked if we could count on his support he whispered he was voting Conservative; his friends inside were all Liberals and he didn't want them to know it.

This widespread reluctance to display one's Conservative stripes reminds me of francophone federalists in Quebec. Federalist Quebecers have traditionally kept their political views to themselves such that pollsters systematically underestimate support for federalist parties if they take their word at face value. Consequently, experienced Quebec pollsters typically give the bulk of the undecided vote to the federalist side.

I suspect something similar may be at work with the Conservatives. Rather than enduring possible discomfort when revealing their political preferences, some may opt for the politically correct answer and choose the Liberals.

That may be changing if this story is any guide.

On Monday, Martin's Liberals could well find that Toronto and Ontario are peppered with federal Conservative voters — Tory-leaning folks who've said little about their political sentiments for a couple of decades.

While their friends and families packed the Commons with Liberals from Ontario these past dozen years, these Conservative sympathizers were content to hang back or even vote with the prevailing trends.

But the past few weeks and months, Ontario's "closet Conservatives" have embarked on coming out, step by slow step.

Of course, if this is true then the polls may be giving a more accurate read on public opinion. In any event, the Conservatives are on the road to victory. It is only a question of by how much.