A post from last night on Dalton's new ad slamming Tory for wanting to fund all religious schools (which would result in the end of civilization according to Dalton) attracted a comment from a reader in Ottawa:
I would agree with you that this is a very divisive and explosive issue but not Mr. McGuinty's problem. Take the latest Decima poll done last week -- the Grits, who HAD been slipping further back near the PC's, are now clear ahead of Tory after his private education funding plans were outlined to Ontario voters.
I responded to Darren's comment with the observation that in a campaign, issue management is less important than image management; how the only thing that really matters is what people think of the candidate - do they like and trust him / her and believe that s/he thinks like they think.
So step away from the issue for a minute... Think only of image effect.
If McGuinty had kept his mouth shut, Tory would have been left holding the religious school funding bag - he would have looked like he was pandering to special interests, was desperate, would say anything to get votes.
But noooooo, Dalton had to stick his foot in his mouth. Goldstein is all over this in The Sun. And is bang on.
Dalton wanted to put himself on the side of the angels - which he defined as the exact opposite of whatever it was that John Tory said.
Dalton wants to be right - but the problem is that it doesn't matter whether you're right or not. It only matters what voters think about you.
And on this issue (which isn't important) Dalton's image (which is important) and is already that he's a little slippery and opportunistic is reinforced - getting on any side of school funding makes him look more slippery and opportunistic. It reinforces his negatives.
He could get hung on this issue, not because of the issue but because of how he is dealing with it.