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Five factors to watch for in this election

Unknown are the surprises that can influence the outcome of a campaign: the embarrassing blunder, surprise policy commitment, counterproductive ads, a debate knockout, not to mention external events and global incidents.

TORONTO—Campaign length: Much has been made at the outset about the historically long 79-day writ period. In the 1960s and 1970s the average election (there were eight of them) was 61 days. While this campaign is extra long by recent standards, with more than one-third of it in the vacation-filled month of August, the extended time-span (which only formalized the politicking already underway) should not be overstated. Recall the 2005-2006 election, when the governing Liberals decided upon a

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