If Harper's goal were political survival, the content of his PR compaign would be markedly different from what it is. It is not a good tactic for self-preservation to call a quarter of Canadian voters (Quebec) "the devil" and claim that Quebec's MPs should not be able to vote in parliament. In fact, it's totally self-destructive. This seems more like a tantrum than a strategy. The message coming through is, If you won't vote for me then to hell with you, you stupid dolts.
Likewise, Harper's repeated assertions that a coalition is undemocratic and that it furthers the goals of separatists, along with being untrue, do nothing to further his cause. Harper has very little chance of stopping the coalition, and so his strategy seems to be to dupe Canadians into believing that the coalition government is illegitimate. In other words: If you won't let me play in your clubhouse then I'm burning it down.
Harper's survival rests on two things:
1. The willingness of the Governor-General to accede to his requests, whatever they turn out to be (proroguing parliament, denying the coalition's request to form a government, appointing opposition MPs as senators, even stepping aside herself if her decisions aren't to his liking).
2. Regaining the confidence of MPs, either directly by convincing coalition MPs, or (more likely) indirectly, through the constituents of coalition MPs.
Harper has lost the confidence of the House, and in that situation the majority of MPs have a perfect right - a responsibility even - to try to form a government. If he were really serious about surviving as PM, he'd be trying to win back the confidence he threw away in last week's economic update. His message would be that he can manage the economic crisis; that he is willing to reveal the true state of the federal books; that he won't ever try to abolish political financing again; that he can learn to play well with others. He might not go so far as to apologize, but he could be doing something in that direction.
The common theme of Harper's PR campaign seems to be: I will prevail or I will tear the country apart trying. Or more accurately: I have lost and so I will make an unholy mess as they drag me out the door.
Harper's fate may already be set it stone. As Bob Rae said today in a scrum, Harper has lost not only the confidence of MPs but also their trust, and that is a more difficult thing to regain. Still, I hope Harper comes to his senses. He has a chance in his national address tonight to turn things around. For the sake of the country, I hope he does.
Update: Nope, he did not change his message one iota in his address to the nation. It's still Burning Down the House.