Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Leadership 2018: The Non-Prediction

In previous NDP leadership campaigns at both the provincial and federal levels, I've compiled regular rankings and/or predictions among the candidates.

Needless to say, I haven't done that for the ongoing Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign - in part because a two-candidate race has left no need to consider down-ballot implications, but also in part due to the difficulty determining exactly where the race stands. And I'll take this opportunity to explain why I'll also hold off on any predictions about Saturday's result.

In general, the issue isn't so much a race that's necessarily too close to call, as one which is too uncertain to call.

In most other campaigns, there's been at least somewhat more polling available to give some indication where the candidates stand. This year's race has featured exactly one public poll intended to capture member opinion - and Premier Cheveldayoff can tell us how sound its methodology has proven.

And in most other campaigns, there's been at least some trend among the other factors which I'd normally use to compare candidate strength. But this campaign has seen different results among those factors (with Meili leading in fund-raising and previous support, Wotherspoon in endorsements), and also no particular momentum for either candidate within those areas.

Complicating matters further, both candidates have a track record of late underperformance based on the 2013 campaign - where Wotherspoon's first-ballot count was far short of his own expectations, while Meili fell just short of winning over half of the party's voters on the final ballot.

And there are plausible factors which could have substantially boosted either candidate within the NDP's membership, including Wotherspoon's tenure as interim leader and Meili's election to the Legislature.

With all those considerations in mind, it's difficult to say more than that I won't be surprised by anything other than an outright blowout in either direction. And with such a wide range of outcomes within the realm of reasonable possibility, I won't be making any predictions as to which one is most likely.

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