Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Federal Liberal Leadership

The only post I can see that I've written not on New Brunswick politics was on the federal Liberal leadership back on August 9.

As a Liberal member, this is obviously an area that interests me. I have been following the race closely and am hoping to be elected this weekend as a delegate to the convention in Montreal.

Much as I did a lot of thinking about who would win in our 55 ridings in the provincial election, I have been doing a lot of thinking as well about who is going to win the most delegates this weekend for the Liberal leadership.

CalgaryGrit, Cerberus and DemocraticSpace have all come up with interesting methodologies.

Everyone puts Michael Ignatieff in the lead. CalgaryGrit and DemocraticSpace both put Gerard Kennedy in 2nd (and they both support him), while Ignatieff supporter Cerberus puts Rae in second with Kennedy in a close third.

They however are all projecting the first ballot at the convention in September. About 85% of delegates will be chosen in the Liberal "super weekend" that is right before us, while the other 15% are ex-officio delegates that automatically get to go to the convention based on their status in the party and do not have to declare who they will support.

I think it is very presumptious to guess who this 15% will support as they will likely have relatively fluid thinking as the candidates progress, as they raise or fail to raise money and, most importantly, based on how well they do on super weekend.

To me, the really big question is the Bob Rae campaign.

From people I have talked to Rae is nowhere in terms of on the ground organization. Despite this, he has tremendous support of big name thinkers and fundraisers in the party. He is also a darling of the media.

As I understand it, though the media has been painting Ignatieff and Rae as frontrunners from day one, this was not always the case for Rae. The media has created a self fufilling prophesy. The more they write that it is an Igantieff-Rae race, the more people who want to defeat Ignatieff support Rae thinking that that is their only option.

Notwithstanding this, based on this article and from what I have heard talking to fellow Liberals. It seems that only Ignatieff and Gerard Kennedy are running national campaigns. Stephane Dion is running something almost national, while Rae does not really have an organization in every province.

My prediction for super weekend is as follows:

Ignatieff - first place
Kennedy - close second place
(a fair bit of space between these two and the others)
Dion - third place
Rae - fourth place (very close to Dion, possibly these two are inverted)
(some space but not as much between 2nd and 3rd)
Brison - fifth place
Dryden - sixth place
Volpe - seventh place
(some more space)
Hall Findlay - eigth place

Now, though this might look grim for Rae (and maybe Dion), theoretically it is not. Rae and Dion both have very strong numbers among those ex-officio's who have come out and made statements of support. More importantly, Rae has the best fundraising machine - bar none - and this will be very important in translating delegates elected to delegates who actually pay their fees and make their way to Montreal to actually vote for leader.

Therefore, I think that if the convention were the day after super weekend, it could conceivably be Rae in second place (or at least a very strong third).

However, I wonder if the same media that pumped Rae up based on a simple glance at names on a sheet instead of an analysis of facts will ironically begin to take the wheels off of his campaign.

We could see headlines like: SHOCK: Rae finishes distant fourth and the like. Could these headlines send ex-officio supporters and worse yet donors away from Rae? And if so, does his campaign lose the ability to finish as strongly on the first ballot (still 2 full months and a bit away)?

Right now, I think it is unrealistic to talk about the first ballot. However, I think it is safe to say that Gerard Kennedy will not only finish second in delegates elected this weekend, but a strong second.

By the way, in the interests of full disclosure, I support Kennedy. If there is a desire from commenters, I would be happy to write up a post why.


Anonymous said...

Top 3 will be Ignatief, Rae and Dion. Question is: where will kennedy (4th) place his support? Another question: If neither Rae nor Ignatieff wins on first ballot, could one or the other throw support behind Dion to stop the other?

From: A reader...

Anonymous said...

I think Rae will win the Liberal leadership.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy stands a chance too.

nbpolitico said...

I think there is no chance for Ignatieff to win and little chance for Rae to win both because of inability to grow at the convention.

I think Dion and Kennedy both have a good shot and that Dryden, Brison and Rae have outside chances of becoming a Joe Clark/Dalton McGuinty type consensus candidate in the case of the first two or in barely pulling across the finish line in the case of Rae.

But as I said, it is impossible to begin to conceive of how the convention will play out as the dynamic of the race stands to change this weekend turning the world upside down.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of Liberal party I hope Dion or Kennedy win. Iggy makes a good professor but very lousy leader. Rae is a failed Premier of Ontario and hence serious baggage there. Moreover, Rae will play in the hands of Cons for being turncoat. Oh please God no Rae or Iggy.

Harrap said...

I agree with you Politico, I think Kennedy would be the best leader -- he has a good record as Ontario Education Minister. As well his progressive leanings would appeal to voters who abandoned the party for the NDP in 2004 and 2006. Furthermore, if he runs in Alberta, he could cause a serious dent in the heart of conservative country.

That being said, I think Rae has done alot of rehabilitate his image and could also pull off a Liberal victory should he be elected leader.

It is hard to predict the dynamics at the convention, but I think there is no way that Iggy will win. It will be either Rae, Kennedy or Dion in my opinion.

nbpolitico said...

harrap - as often we are, it seems we're both pretty close to the same page

DivaRachel said...

I like your predictions. I hope they come true. Even if Iggy has the most deleguates, Iggy will have no room to grow... That leaves roomfor Kennedy to take it. i'm keeping my fingers crossed!

-- Rachel.

Altavistagoogle said...

NBpolitico, in response to your comment on my blog about Kennedy's French abilities:

"In a party that offers a perfectly fluent trio of top-tier candidates, aspirants whose second language turns to gibberish under pressure simply don’t make the grade.” Chantal H├ębert.

Don't forget that there will be plenty of French speaking reporters at the Montreal convention and they will be more than happy to put that theory to the test.

I've concluded that Kennedy's French is worse than Harper's, Layton's or Ducepe's. But compared to Preston Manning, he is outstanding. But those days are over.

nbpolitico said...

AVG - it probably makes sense to respond to comments where they were left so that the conversation follows, so here are my comments...

"(Kennedy's) main connection to Atlantic Canada is his marriage to an Acadian from Prince Edward Island. He handled interviews in both English and French with ease on Friday." - Carl Davies, Telegraph-Journal, May 13, 2006

"(Kennedy's) French, while not flawless, was 'better than Harper’s,' a bilingual friend assures me." - Ross Moroz, Vue Weekly Magazine, September 20, 2006

Anonymous said...

I believe Kennedy will do well in both official languages. He has a good power base in Ontario. He could be shoe-in for Prime Minister's office. This is what I gathered from reading about the Kennedy.

Other candidates? So so. Iggy has shot himself in the foot quite a few times. Rae has lot of baggage from his NDP days.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the bad grammar.

Harrap said...

We do agree on many things.

An online news article gave me an idea for a post on why Kennedy would be the best candidate, I'd be interested to hear your views as well -- *hint hint* blog post ;)

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:30 a.m. Please no Iggy or Rae.

I could vote for Kennedy or Dion.