There is no evidence that the Conservatives are going to impode. Indeed, far from it. All the evidence suggests that the Conservative numbers have returned to where they have been for almost 4 years now, i.e., around 36 to 37 percent. The Liberal spring numbers appear now as fleeting and shallow as the Montreal convention numbers. Furthermore, outside of Quebec, there no evidence that the Liberals are making any inroads. This is in marked contrast to what the Conservatives are doing; the Conservatives seem to be consolidating some of the gains they made in Ontario, the Maritimes and in BC at the Liberals expense during Dion's reign.
Needless to say, there also no evidence that Michael Igantieff has the ability to charm. He is not charismatic; he is not funny; and he does not wow people with his looks. Strip away the intellectual and there is nothing there to sell. Those liberal bloggers that trumpeted the Michael in the woods ads as being positive ought of be ashamed of themselves. The ad was predictably bad -- although no worse than the horrible "positive" ads Dion ran in the last election. If the Liberals are going to continue to run away from substantive issues, I at least hope the Liberal brass comes to realize that when it comes to ads "we can do better" we can go negative. Now to be fair, the party is not the only one falling down on selling the leader; Igantieff's attempt to appear rooted by intertwining his family's personal history with that of country's bores both the public and pundits to tears.
So were do the Liberals go from here. They have to reverse course. So far the Liberal approach has been to move closer to the Conservatives on the big picture issues (e.g., Afghanistan, taxes and crime) well all the well hyping minor differences and shrilly complaining about minor scandals. Such an approach is doomed to failure. Your average Canadian knows next to nothing about politics, especially about political minutiae, and furthermore does not care that it does not know, . If the Liberals continue down this road, the Liberals will be no better off than they are now. A bored and apathetic public will return a Conservative minority to power or worse give Harper a majority.
The Liberals have to run towards controversial social issues and not away from them. Ignatieff has spent too much time in the US. The party has deluded itself into believing that issues such as same same marriage and the gun registry has hurt the party in Ontario, especially with evangalgical voters. There is very little to recommend such a blinkered view. 1) The combined Alliance and PC vote in 2000 was much higher than the total Conservative vote in 2004. Ontario residents did not migrate to the NDP because they were miffed about SSM and the gun registry implemented some 6 years before. 2) To pretend that Liberal Onatrio totals between 1993 and 2000 were normal is laughable. The country voted regionally like never before and this included Ontario. 3) While there is no evidence to suggest that SSM cost the Liberals a single seat west of Ontario, there is evidence to believe that such policies helped the Liberals in the Lowermainland. The Liberals went up there in 2004 and 2006 despite a marked downturn in national numbers. 4) Quebec is the one part of Canada the Liberals have change to grow and social liberalism seems the best means of putting the Conservatives on the run there and attracting Quebec voters.
Above all else, the Liberals need to again embrace universality. That means embracing the social democratic success of the 1960s, the core of the party's brand and promising to build on them. It also means abandoning, as much as possible, the degenerite liberalism assocaited with collective rights, affirmative action and asymmetrical federalism.