I guess because I have always assumed that Mulcair would not win this election and that the Orange Wave was a one off election result, that he would hold on. Then again, I am not a partisan New Democrat and kind of missed this.
If — as the polls are suggesting — he leads the NDP back to third place, Mulcair is unlikely to get another kick at the election can.
The New Democrats have a long and unbroken record of federal defeats and almost as long a history of giving their leaders a second or even a third chance. But a defeat this time would feel different to many party loyalists for they were asked to put quite a bit of water in their ideological wine on the way to their latest bid for government.
To make matters worse, if the NDP ends up back in third place, it will not be because it stood against the Conservative anti-terrorism act or opposed Canada’s military role in its mission against Islamic extremists in the Middle East, or even because it stood against a niqab ban.
From the New Democrat perspective, those would all be good hills to die on.
What has really ailed the Mulcair campaign has been an excess of prudence and a failure to cast the party as a compelling, convincing agent of change. On that score, the Liberals did not steal the ground from under the feet of the New Democrats. The latter left it vacant for Trudeau to occupy.
Whether Mulcair himself would want to stay on for very long if he is defeated in the election is an open question.
Over the campaign, the NDP leader has sometimes been hard-pressed to conceal his contempt for the skills of his Liberal rival. It is hardly a given that he would want to play second fiddle to Trudeau in opposition to another Conservative government or that he could be a happy camper propping up a minority Liberal government.
Also, if you are Harper or Mulcair, columns like these are the worst thing you want to read anytime but especially this close to the election.