Everyone else is offering their post-debate analysis, so here’s mine:
– Harper is still working too hard to appear mellow in order to expand his base and I don’t think that it’s working. He probably didn’t lose too many votes, and he definitely didn’t gain any. He’s going to win the same percentage of the vote, from mostly the same voters as he did in 2006. There were signs of the old cheap-shot artist a few times, mostly directly at Layton and Dion, but he dialed it back right away – almost as if he remembered what he had been told to do in the debates.
– I think that Layton was the clear winner… and that’s no spin. Indeed, even as a longtime Jack fan, I was disappointed with his overly-scripted performances in 2004 and 2006, so I was genuinely thrilled with how he did last night (and the night before). He had the only real memorable lines of the debate and he combined substance with an excellent sense of timing and a strong delivery. He is the real alternate to Harper and clearly the best choice for Leader of the Official Opposition (though I’d obviously prefer to see him in the PMO).
– Duceppe certainly deserves credit for pinning Harper down on the Iraq mistake (although the “bad intelligence” excuse is just as laughable coming from his lips as it is from George Bush’s). There is certainly something to be said for having nothing to lose, and Duceppe benefitted from that.
– May scored some good points against Harper and cleared up any doubts about whether she should be there. While she didn’t team up with Dion as much as her critics worried she might, she did demonstrate that she was right in predicting that she would do a better job at explaining the Green Shift than he would.
– Dion seemed like part of the furniture. He seemed more intent on convincing viewers that the Conservatives’ campaign tactics were unfair and mean than he was in presenting a case for support. If we didn’t have the benefit of having seen the Liberals in power for twelve years (or in opposition for the last two), his nostalgia for the good-old-days of Liberal rule might have seemed credible.