Sunday, August 06, 2017

Leadership 2017 Candidate Rankings - August 6

I've thus far held off on doing candidate rankings for the federal NDP leadership campaign - and may not end up updating them weekly as I have in past campaigns. But for now, let's put together a first set - as always, intended to reflect my impressions as to the relative likelihood of each candidate winning the leadership election (and not my own preferences between them).

I'll note as well that while the voting process is a new one for the NDP, the campaigns will need to consider how it will affect their choices as we approach the voting period.

My suspicion is that most members will again submit a full preferential ballot during the first voting window. So any inclination for one candidate's supporters to systematically support another will be an important consideration.

But the time between ballots will also give candidates far more opportunity to persuade possible down-ballot supporters than existed in previous campaigns. A candidate will obviously be better off with enough organization resources to identify and reach specific target voters, but the increased media attention between rounds of voting will give whoever's on the ballot some chance to reach undecided voters.

And so at this point, each of the candidates seems to have a plausible path to victory. But here's where I see the candidates standing for now...

1. Jagmeet Singh

I have my doubts that the candidates' vote totals will necessarily map as closely to fund-raising as they have in the past. But Singh's massive advantage in that department (along with his campaign organization) looks to signal both a strong first-ballot showing, and the ability to reach voters if multiple ballots are needed.

The crucial variable for Singh thus figures to be the presence of a pool of persuadable voters to make up any difference between his first-ballot results and a majority of voters. And he has made a smart move on that front by speaking positively of Guy Caron's economic plan, positioning himself as an alternative option for policy-oriented members.

2. Charlie Angus

Angus is the other front-runner for the moment, ranking near the top in every poll and fund-raising list. And his combination of stature within the NDP and comfort in a campaign setting makes him a plausible magnet for enough down-ballot support to emerge victorious if he's within striking distance to start with.

But it's not certain that Angus will be able to convert as many votes as he needs to if he has a substantial gap to make up.

In particular, he's positioned himself as comparatively favourable toward pipelines, creating the possibility that environment-focused voters in other camps might drop him to the bottom of a list - or at least choose not to cast a later ballot for him. And while he's been able to win some Quebec support, his French doesn't look to have improved enough to persuade members who see the ability to persuade Quebec voters as a prerequisite for a national leader.

3. Niki Ashton

Assuming that Singh and Angus are indeed in front of the pack, Ashton and Caron face the twin challenges of trying to stay on the ballot against the other, while needing to win over a disproportionate share of the other's supporters in order to have some realistic prospect of challenging the front-runners.

The most obvious way for that to happen would be for the two to arrange a mutual support pact - which would need to be set up early enough to influence voters from the beginning of the voting period. But there's no indication the two are that closely aligned at this point.

That said, Ashton does look to be able to appeal to Caron voters on multiple fronts, including her presentation in Quebec and her orientation toward progressive economic policy. So her lead in past polling and fund-raising places her ahead of Caron for now.

On a final ballot, Ashton's rural roots and populist message would give her plenty in common with many of Angus' core supporters if she ends up matched up against Singh. And while she'd have a more difficult time finding useful approaches to voters if Singh were to drop off the ballot, she might be able to portray her movement politics as a match with Singh's growth message.

4. Guy Caron

Yet Caron too looks to have a reasonable prospect of running the table - particularly if he's able to get ahead of Ashton on the first ballot.

With Singh largely seen as the candidate of the NDP establishment and Angus positioning himself toward the centre of the spectrum, members who responded to Ashton's social-movement theme could plausibly line up behind Caron as a second option. And if Singh and Angus each spend the balance of the campaign challenging the other for position at the top of the ballot, Caron could well emerge as the preferred choice among supporters of whichever falls off the ballot first.

1 comment:

  1. NDP establishment?? What's that? I have voted CCF and NDP for 60 years and I guess I'm still not part of it because I don't know what it is. Singh scares me. He is haunted by the ghost of who I thought Justin Trudeau was. Not so unhappy about his being elected until I realized he was such a phoney and going to do such damaging things. He can fall out of a kayak in the Gulf Islands National Park and still be in denial about what damage an oil spill there would do to the world. Charlie is about Charlie and I cannot support anyone who is for (or might be for) Kinder Morgan. Have a grandson who prawn fishes in the spring on the west coast and it is a rich rich source of sea food (besides being so incredibly beautiful) and must not be damaged. I don't live there but will take my old bones out there to lie down in front of big machinery to stop it. Only leaves two to choose from.