25 January 2017

Kevin, Donald, and Danny #nlpoli

Forum poll released on Monday showed 27% of those surveyed thought celebrity businessman Kevin O'Leary would make the best leader of the federal Conservative party with Maxime Bernier a distant second at 11% and Lisa Raitt coming in at a mere seven percent.

Among self-identified Conservatives,  O'Leary's support climbs to 31%, according to Forum and with Conservative voters from 2015,  O'Leary is the pick of 49%.   Among Conservative supporters,  Raitt comes in second.

No one should panic just yet since this is still very early days and O'Leary has to win the leadership before we need to wonder if he might become prime minister.  Then again,  when Donald Trump started his campaign, no one thought the guy would last out the primaries, let alone take the nomination, and then win the presidency.

Since O'Leary's never shown himself to be politically active or to have a concern for public policy before, you have to wonder how he managed to enter the race in such a strong position.
Two words:  celebrity businessman,  which is the phrase the Toronto Star used to describe O'Leary in its story on the poll.

And really, it's the word "celebrity" that matters most here.  O'Leary's name is well-known.  Just having a name that people can put with a face helps a lot in politics these days.  People often make quick, superficial decisions in response to a poll. They base their responses on all sorts of quick impressions and half thoughts.  O'Leary's been all over the place for the past few years so lots of people know him and among Conservatives he and his ideas are likely to get a lot of support.

In that respect he is following in the footsteps of other celebrity businessmen who have entered politics.  Donald Trump is the most recent one. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians loved the proto-typical celebrity businessman, Danny Williams.

While Williams and Trump share a lot of similar traits,  it isn't clear yet if O'Leary is going to be in the same mold.  Both Williams and Trump oppose free trade, for example. O'Leary seems to be a dedicated free marketeer.  In 2010,  O'Leary said Williams' legacy would be the damage he did to federal provincial relations with his posturing.  "Nutbar Factor 6" said O'Leary about Williams.

Should be interesting to see how O'Leary's candidacy rolls out.  It is certainly getting a fair bit of attention at the front end.