Nfld. & Labrador

Early federal election campaign might drain resources, wane voter interest

An early election campaign could have unknown consequences for both politicians and voters, one political science professor says.
Political science professor Scott Matthews said an 11-week federal campaign gives politicians more time to spend money and make mistakes. (CBC)

An early election campaign could have unknown consequences for both politicians and voters, one political science professor says.

Voters have known for years that the federal election will be on October 19, but sources confirm the election campaign may start as early as Sunday.

This 11-week campaign period would be the longest Canadians have seen in years.

Scott Matthews, a political science professor at Memorial University, said a longer campaign period will put a drain on political parties--especially those with fewer resources.

In previous elections, the majority of voters have only become engaged in the last few weeks of the campaign period. (CBC)

"Conservatives have much deeper pockets, and the longer campaign means their ability to spend what they've got is that much greater," said Matthews.

"That's more money and more asymmetry in the ability of the parties to get their message out."

More chances for politicians to stumble

A longer campaign also gives politicians more opportunity to make mistakes, something Matthews said might actually advantage the New Democrats.

"If a long campaign means more opportunities for the prime minister and especially the Liberal leader to stumble and make the NDP look like a clear alternative, they may regret the long campaign," he said.

"Many people have speculated that Justin Trudeau has not been tested. A long campaign may be a real test for him."

A longer campaign also means more time for the public to lose interest. In previous campaigns, the majority of voters only become engaged in the last few weeks.

"People may get tired of everything as the campaign wears on, that's a possibility. But if you think of the American example, there you're talking about election campaigns that are orders of magnitude longer," Matthews said.

"People may get fatigued for a time in the campaign but I think that their interest will come back in the end."

'No idea' when voters will take interest, O'Regan says

Politicians are also preparing for an 11-week grind.

Liberal candidate Seamus O'Regan said he doesn't know when voters will start paying attention if the campaign starts early. (CBC)

Liberal candidate Seamus O'Regan said that if the writ drops early, he's not sure when the best time will be to grab voters' attention.

"In any traditional campaign this time of year, you usually wait until a week or two until their kids are back in school, then they have the time maybe to pay attention to a campaign," he said.

"Now, I frankly have no idea."

O'Regan is running against the NDP incumbent Ryan Cleary in the district of St. John's South-Mount Pearl.

"When do people start paying attention to their options, when do they start realizing their options, when do they really become engaged? I don't know. I don't think many people do."

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