Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pulling the vote

James Wood updates the voting numbers for the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race. And it'll be interesting to see the effect of what looks to be a highly successful effort to get members to vote early.

By way of comparison, in the Ontario NDP leadership race earlier this year, just under 47% of eligible voters made their choice in advance. In contrast, the Saskatchewan NDP's race has far exceeded that total even with two more days of advance voting to go:
As of Wednesday, 54 per cent of about 13,000 eligible voters had cast preferential ballots through the mail, telephone or Internet in advance polling.
Lingenfelter, like the other candidates, said he is spending his time working the phones in an effort to get members to cast their votes in advance.

While he's taking nothing for granted, he expressed confidence, noting about 60 per cent of his campaign's identified supporters have already voted.
So how does that number of advance voters affect the campaigns? The article notes that a large amount of advance voting could work to the advantage of Dwain Lingenfelter's campaign in light of his front-runner status, as it reduces the chances of any other candidate building momentum at the convention itself. And on the the surface, Lingenfelter's statement that his campaign has already turned out 60 per cent of its vote would seem to further favour him.

But given that at least some portion of the party would figure to remain undecided until the convention or decline to identify their support, it would seem likely that each of the campaigns are somewhere near the same level in terms of percentages. Which makes the more important question the size of the pool of identified support that each could claim to begin with.

And it's striking that Lingenfelter was silent on that point. Remember that he was less than shy about stating how many new members his campaign had signed up. And at the time, the number seemed to signal that Lingenfelter would enjoy a strong chance at a first-ballot victory.

Of course, there are some reasons why Lingenfelter wouldn't want to show his hand at this point even if he's still operating under the assumption that he's banked all the votes that he needs, including possible embarrassment if his numbers proved to be wrong as well as the desire to keep public attention directed toward the race. But it sounds like Lingenfelter should in theory have an excellent idea as to whether or not he's in fact headed toward the first-ballot romp which he once expected. And that will make his camp's strategy very much worth watching over the next couple of days.

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