Is having an ordinary-guy, awshucks image really that important when it comes to an election race? wrote the Toronto Sun April 3:
A York University political science prof says it's hit or miss. "Populism is an overused term," said Robert Drummond. "It means having ordinary people making decisions rather than experts – it's appealing, but I think it's often a type of smokescreen for a set of policies that's not going to satisfy ordinary people, but elites," he said. "To those of us who are involved in academic life, it's frightening. It implies that information and facts can be ignored if you have a 'common sense' approach to things."
In the case of Ignatieff, voters get the sense they don't know him well, Drummond said. "But do they know Stephen Harper or Jack Layton?" he asked. "They come across as more ordinary folk. There are times when Harper does look stiff, but the sweater and the piano playing probably does help him."
Being an intellectual can be problematic in this election, simply because many people make an assumption that Ignatieff may be aloof and "probably doesn't think of himself as ordinary folks."
"That may be unfair to him, that's why...all these photo opportunities of him doing things he doesn't do very often are supposed to give him a common touch, but it doesn't work well if you look stiff and uncomfortable doing it," Drummond said.
Ignatieff is pulling out all the stops to project a more down-to-earth image, but time is against him. "He's visiting a lot of places where people get to see him up close and personal, but I don't think you can do a lot during a campaign to make that sort of dent," he said. "It's not the type of campaign in the 19th century where people appeared in person a lot – a lot of it is televised or online pleas."
Drummond's research explores public policy with a specific focus on provincial politics. He is a frequent media commentator during elections.
Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin