Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leadership 2012 Candidate Rankings - January 15, 2012

At the outset of this week's rankings, I'll offer a reminder that the below is intended to reflect my analysis as to how likely any given candidate is to win the NDP's leadership race, rather than my own personal ballot or any other endorsement of one candidate over another. And yes, the reasons for that disclaimer will soon become apparent.

1. Thomas Mulcair (1)

To the extent Mulcair was once seen as pulling away from the field, that impression looks to have evaporated. But relatively little news is good news for a favourite - and Mulcair has at worst lived up to expectations since emerging as the front-runner.

2. Peggy Nash (2)

No, her pot-luck event last weekend didn't radically transform the race. But Nash too has presented a solid mix of policy proposals and endorsements while avoiding any damage based on the increased scrutiny that comes with a top-tier position. And while I don't entirely buy the theory that she would be the favourite to win if a vote were held today, she'd definitely have a fighting chance.

3. Paul Dewar (4)

Dewar made what figures to be his big move in the race this week, unveiling the endorsements of Linda Duncan and Charlie Angus. And the effect is to give him what may be the most impressive geographic footprint of any candidate in the race at the moment: Duncan and Angus are the party's leading figures from urban Alberta and rural Ontario respectively, and if they can add a substantial amount of their regional support to Dewar's existing base in B.C., Manitoba and urban Ontario then Dewar may be able to find his way onto the final ballot.

4. Brian Topp (3)

I attended Topp's Regina meet-and-greet this week, making for the main piece of personal observation factored into this week's rankings. And contrary to what the drop would suggest for those who didn't read the disclaimer at the beginning of this post, Topp's strong admonition to ensure that an NDP government focuses on a more equal Canada and strategic acumen as to how to get there likely pushed him up among my own personal preferences.

But the problem for Topp is that it's not clear he's reaching as many members as he needs to. The turnout for the meet-and-greet was respectable in pure numbers, but was also about as elderly and MLA-heavy as any I've seen at an NDP event in quite some time. And while there may be some excuse in the fact that Niki Ashton was holding an event the same evening, it can't be a good sign for Topp's campaign if his insider appeal is failing to extend far beyond his pool of former colleagues.

5. Niki Ashton (5)

By all accounts Ashton had another successful Saskatchewan swing this week. But the big question will be whether she can add some additional support from Ontario and Quebec to what's looking like a very west-heavy campaign.

6. Romeo Saganash (6)

His campaign has still been on the quiet side, but Saganash is making the rounds in Ontario - which should at least help make sure he has some path available for an increasingly steep climb.

7. Nathan Cullen (7)

While the main issue for Cullen is still the question of whether members will accept his plan for electoral cooperation, Dewar's endorsements this week also raise the question of whether Cullen has much support from outside British Columbia to highlight. And the problems may be related, since a perception that nobody else dares to sign on to the cooperation plan may well make it more of a liability than it might have been otherwise.

8. Martin Singh (8)

There against doesn't seem to be much to report from Singh's campaign this week - and while we can never rule out some progress under the radar, that doesn't look like a great sign for the candidate with the most to prove.

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