There has been a lot of hand-wringing over a couple of recent polls which show that the Liberals have pulled back into a statistical tie with the Conservatives after Paul Martin's televised plea to wait for Judge Gomery's report and deal with the NDP on the budget.
Before we all start running around screaming that those cowards in Ontario are being whipped into submission again, let's stand back and get some perspective.
For the past week, Paul Martin's speech and the budget deal have pushed the Gomery inquiry off the front pages, during a period when the testimony coming therefrom did not really reveal anything new about the sponsorship scandal.
Martin's speech was delivered to reinforce a view that most people held already about not wanting an election now. That view, however, invariably disappears once an election is actually called.
Despite this, however, Liberal support has not risen. Votes are being parked with the protest parties or the undecided bloc right now; this is to be expected when two parties carry out a lot of public posturing without any result.
The long-term trend has shown the Liberal Party consistently running at least 10 percentage points behind its traditional inter-election levels in the mid-40's. Even during Martin's post-election honeymoon, the Liberals were barely able to crack 40%.
The Liberals are starting this pre-election campaign from a much weaker position than they held even immediately before the 2004 election.
There is certainly no cause for complacency, but neither has the roof caved in on us.