Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On limited choices

Daniel Leblanc's report on a possible detente between Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp certainly makes for some interesting scenario-building. So let's follow up on what Paul Wells has already written.

Obviously, we wouldn't expect locked-in supporters of any candidate to be swayed by the appeal. So the obvious first target would figure to be the substantial number of voters who are undecided to date. And to the extent voters buy the idea that it's necessary to choose from Mulcair or Topp in order to keep the NDP's Quebec gains (which itself seems rather questionable when Topp has less caucus supporters in the province than Peggy Nash), the main effect would be to elevate Topp above the second tier of candidates to become the chief challenger to Mulcair.

But that strategy would succeed only at a massive cost to Topp's ultimate prospects. Even if he manages to win enough early-ballot support to emerge as the second-place contender, any signal that Mulcair is an acceptable choice would only give the supporters of every other candidate reason to figure there's no need to line up to stop the front-runner. Which means that absent some follow-up plan to severely damage Mulcair in a campaign where no attacks have yet managed to make a dent, the most plausible effect of making the message stick would be to elevate Topp to second place...while effectively handing Mulcair the leadership.

That makes me wonder whether Topp's motivation may be a matter of setting up his place in the pecking order within a Mulcair-led party, rather than any perception that he has a plausible path to victory. But it'll be well worth watching both how Topp handles Mulcair from here on in, and how the other campaigns respond to the move to narrow the field.

No comments:

Post a Comment