Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Having a Federal Election During the NHL Playoffs - Who Wins, Who Loses?

A week from tonight, the attention of Canadians will be riveted on something that for millions is far more exciting ~even~ than a federal election.

Habs are in, Nucks are in. Leafs, Sens and Oilers are out. And the Flames are out too or soon will be

This year, the first 2-1/2 weeks of the playoffs will coincide with the final 2-1/2 weeks of the federal election campaign.

It is somewhat of a rarity that these two great Canadian pastimes co-exist. The last two times there was some overlap were the elections of 2004, Paul Martin's minority, and 1997, Jean Chretien's 2nd majority.

However these two occasions were much different than that in which we find ourselves today.

First of all, in both those years the elections were held in June, so the earlier part of the playoffs was finished before the campaigns started to get serious. The result of that was that the Canadian teams, with the notable exception of Calgary in '04, were knocked out before the campaigns really kicked into high gear. It is also worth noting that there has never been anywhere near the media coverage of the NHL playoffs that there is now.

You have a lot of people with all-sports radio on all day long. You have CBC and TSN and I don't even know what other stations scrapping it out to air every single game that is played anywhere - not just the Canadian teams. Not to even mention the internet...

Just the sheer amount of media air that the playoffs are going to occupy during the last 2-3 weeks of this campaign, beginning a week from tonight, on a nightly basis, is going to be something to behold.

So what does it mean? Not that anyone really knows...  But one's gut sense would say that, if anyone is hoping to influence large numbers of people in a substantial way, a way that takes any amount of focus or engagement, they are going to have an even tougher time than might normally be expected.

What about the plum advertising opportunities that all those high viewership playoff games are going to offer? The cost is sure to be high. Does that mean advantage Conservatives?

What about the fact that the two cities that have teams involved are two cities where Liberals need to hold or add seats? Or the fact that at least the Ontario teams are out. Does that really means that Ontario could be a little more volatile?

All things considered, the fact that the attention of millions of Canadians is going to be on our national sport during the last 2-1/2 weeks of April has to be considered an advantage for the status quo.

One other point not to be overlooked: the Quebec City and Winnipeg factors. If any kind of sense was floated out there that voting a particular way would secure a team for either city, then that could be a game changer in a few ridings in those cities.

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