Americans are not the only ones interested in U.S. politics. As a Canadian who served as an organizer for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign (two weeks in Iowa and a few days in Ohio), was a Bush/Cheney Get Out the Vote organizer in 2000 and 2004, and was part of the RNC volunteer deployment crew for the mid terms of 2002 and 2006, I followed the 2012 Republican caucuses and primaries with great interest.
As it turns out I was not the only Canadian paying attention. In advance of the 2012 Iowa caucuses, I was asked to appear on CTV’s News Channel (CTV is Canada’s largest and most-watched network) and was invited back to discuss the GOP Convention. Due to a high level of interest in the 2012 presidential race, I then joined a regular panel to provide pre and post debate comments and opinions, while the station carried – live – the debates for their Canadian audience.
This week, I was back at the station to meet with our election night coverage team. In fact, CTV is not the only Canadian station that will be airing live coverage of the U.S. election results. Recent polling conducted by Navigator’s Jaime Watt (for CBC’s Political Traction series), shows that 71% of Canadians are following – and discussing - the US elections very closely.
The United States is Canada’s largest trading partner and closest ally. Among the issues most important to Canadians are the future of the XL Pipeline, the future of Obamacare (arguably a huge cost on small businesses and therefore a potential barrier to much needed job growth), and, hopefully a new overall solution to the looming “fiscal cliff” crisis. Canada’s economy may be strong, but for Canada to continue to enjoy a healthy economy, we need a strong and stable trading partner. Over the past few years, Canada has been busy signing Free Trade Agreements with close to a dozen countries – and are in negotiations with more, including India and China. Ontarians will be closely watching for the results of the Michigan ballot initiative regarding a new Canada-U.S. bridge. But the issues are secondary for average Canadians.
Most channels on the televisions in Canadians’ homes carry a wide array of the U.S. political ads, both local and national. Canadians can’t help but be aware of the billions of dollars being spent on this election by both sides and are simply caught up in the action. Finally, Canadians are well aware that on November 6, Americans will elect the most powerful man in the world.
And Canada, like every other nation in the world, will be watching.