Following up on yesterday's introductory post, here are my first candidate rankings for the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race.
1. Ryan Meili (--)
Lest there be any doubt, there's still plenty of guesswork involved in trying to rank where the candidates stand: the lone poll we've seen during the course of the campaign was released back in October, and it showed undecided voters overwhelmingly outnumbering decided ones.
That being the case, I see Meili having the edge for now on two fronts: he's since built a strong lead over the other candidates in terms of passive engagement, and has also assembled what looks to me like the most active organization. And those factors look to give him the edge both in recruiting new and supportive members to the voter pool, and in winning over persuadable members.
2. Cam Broten (--)
The leadership campaign's second-choice candidate finds himself in a familiar position in the rankings.
Broten still looks to be nicely positioned if the candidates around him falter. But his paths toward down-ballot support can't overcome Meili's apparent advantage in outreach over the first few months of the campaign - though they do bump him ahead of Wotherspoon in what would otherwise be a too-close-to-call first-ballot contest.
3. Trent Wotherspoon (--)
Conversely, Wotherspoon starts out below Broten due primarily to the fact that it's less apparent how he'd make a sequence of ballots work in his favour given a comparable first-ballot showing.
But if the candidates are grouped as closely as it appears, Wotherspoon still figures to have a strong chance to jump ahead of his competitors based on two key factors: the possibility that his early-campaign investments might start to show some returns when it counts most, and the prospect that he could win over members during the course of the leadership debates.
4. Erin Weir (--)
Finally, Weir ends up in fourth place as the candidate with the least obvious organization and public following at this stage of the campaign.
But as I cautioned in my introductory post, that shouldn't be taken to suggest the rankings can't change, particularly as members become more engaged in the campaign. And the bigger unknown for Weir has less to do with his current standing than the question of whether his messages will actually sway undecided members.