Ontario: Horwath, Del Duca, And Driving A Fast Car
On The Progressive Primary
One of the fun things about my burgeoning F1 fandom is the complicated, almost incestuous ways the world of the sport works outside of the track, and the complicated array of characters and subplots that make it up. I wasn’t there for any of the past drama, but I’ve certainly caught up, watching most of the 2021 races and figuring out not just who all the people are, but where they’ve been.
Probably the greatest recurrent 2021 drama – other than the season long title chase – was the informal, unofficial race for Mercedes #2 seat, between Valterri Bottas, who had long been Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, and George Russell, the Mercedes golden boy on loan at Williams for a few years to get used to driving in F1 (if, admittedly, with a shit car). Russell was gunning for the seat, sick of being lucky to get 8th in a race, and Bottas was rightly trying to not get fired. It was a battle of an experienced and good choice against an admittedly riskier proposition that could be truly special, and it was the off-track story for months. And then Mercedes went with Russell.
I’m thinking of this history not just because I’m on the path to becoming the world’s biggest George Russell fanboy – although, such a descriptor would not be unfair – but because the choice Toto Wolff made last summer is the same one that Ontario progressives had made this spring – that “good enough” isn’t good enough anymore.
And because of that, Andrea Horwath, exit stage left, your career is over.
Last night, Andrea Horwath had the advantage of being the Opposition Leader, and she came off as a small, addled mind twat who spent the first half of the debate interrupting everyone and the second half of it saying nothing at all. Her “stories” of “people” didn’t come off as folksy, it came off as boring, because in a highly regimented debate, the time should have been spent on either promoting your plans or attacking the Government, and Horwath spent way too long doing neither. It was an impotent performance at a time when she needed her best performance, and she just didn’t have it.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Horwath in recent years – having cast my second ever vote at any level for her party in 2018 – and I come back to this exact same thing every time I think of her. She was elated with second place and a PC majority, and while it was better for her party, I’d think the PC Majority part of that night should have put a damper on the NDP mood, but it didn’t. Horwath took for granted that she now had the fast car and the open lane, and she ran into the fucking wall.
At some point, this campaign was always going to be a two step process – one of left-wing acrimony to determine the winner of the “Progressive Primary”, and the latter stage was going to be seeing if the winner of it could slingshot themselves up close enough to Ford to deprive him of a majority of seats. We’re now at the end of stage one, and the next stage will be seeing how low the NDP falls and how high the OLP can get to.
In 2015, what happened was the three parties were pretty close in late September, and then the Munk Debate – with Trudeau’s defence of Pierre on the anniversary of Pierre’s death, and Trudeau coming off at his most serious and credible – happened, the NDP vote started to fall, and the Liberal vote rose. That same effect is likely to come here, but the difference is, the Conservatives are at ~37% and not ~31%, as they were federally, meaning that the slingshot won’t get the Liberals a majority, but might deprive the Cons of one.
Is this path working? I mean, we don’t know, in a sense – there’s no full post-debate polling, so we have no idea. What we do know is the PC lead pre-debate isn’t insurmountable, by any means. If you believe the 2CloseToCall model, the PCs’ break even point for majority – the point at which they’re more likely than not to get a majority, for a given lead over the OLP – is about 4.5%. I think Bryan’s model is too favourable to the PCs in the west GTA and Scarborough, especially, and I have no doubt he thinks mine is too aggressive in the same spots. I’m 99% sure we agree basically everywhere else, which makes this campaign both interesting and nauseating.
Let’s say the real break even is 6% - Abacus on Monday had the PCs right above that point, at a 35-28 lead over the Liberals, and IRG this morning had 36-31 for the PCs. Let’s just be very clear – at 35 or 36, the PCs get overrun by the opposition pretty easily. At 38 or higher, it’s pretty hard. Mainstreet’s back to the PCs at 38, and if they’re right, then the PCs will 70-75 seats.
What we’re waiting for is two things – post debate polls, and new polls from EKOS, Nanos, and Leger necessary to confirm the Abacus and IRG trend of declining PC leads, or to burst the progressive bubble. Will we get those new polls soon, or will the commissioning media sources for those pollsters wait for a few days to get the data they need? I have no idea.
What I do know is that Steven Del Duca has a chance to truly make the most of this opening in a way that Andrea Horwath never could. The thing about George Russell is he was never going to come to Mercedes to be Lewis Hamilton And The Other Guy, and Bottas routinely was when he had Merc’s second seat. What we know, for dead certain, is that Russell wants to win, and he will do what it takes not just to do good enough, but to win. And now, hopefully, if Mercedes ever gets their shit together, we’ll get to see what George can do with a properly fast car.
In the same way, we saw what Horwath did with the fast car called Opposition Leader – nothing. She wasted four years and her incompetence is risking a bad government winning again. Now it’s time to hand the keys to the progressive car over to Del Duca – because at least he has a chance of doing what so many need, which is get a fucking win.