Sunday, September 17, 2006

Which Liberal Has "Growth"?

In a race destined for multiple ballots, the Liberal leadership comes down to a question of growth. Which candidate can build support past the first ballot and ride that momentum to victory. I think it important to acknowledge the power of psychology as the primary determining factor.

Most of Ignatieff's detractors argue that while he may well lead on the first ballot, he will stall, allowing another candidate to snatch the prize. I think this assumption falls apart if Ignatieff has a strong showing on the first ballot- a third or more. It becomes especially risky for other candidates to move to someone else, if Ignatieff looks the likely winner. The political future of a candidate may rest with who they ultimately support, a strong showing by Ignatieff may provide a powerful motivation to get on the bandwagon. Unless candidates are sure others will move to someone other than Ignatieff, their support may cancel out and give Ignatieff all he needs to get over the top. Important to remember, if Ignatieff has say 35%, he only needs to pick up less than a quarter of the remaining delegates, which isn't a stretch. Stop Iggy may be unrealistic, because it will require a herd mentality amongst delegates.

Despite all the talk about who is everyone's "second choice", the only person who will have any chance will be the second place person on the first ballot. If someone like Dion finishes third or fourth, it's unlikely that sympathetic delegates will move on masse to a risky perch. The battle to be the anti-Ignatieff will be won on the first ballot, unless of course the numbers are so close as to be meaningless. Anything around 20% would be a strong showing, and provide a reasonable alternative to Ignatieff, especially if he comes in at 30% or slightly higher. Delegates won't see any hint of "inevitability", but will be tempted to move to the second place candidate. It is for this reason that I disagree with people who argue that Kennedy has less potential than Dion. If Kennedy finishes second, I think Dion is essentially dead. Afterall, despite the spin, it's not as if people hate Kennedy. The momentum of a strong first ballot percentage will be the determining factor for Kennedy's growth.

Third place only matters if the numbers are essentially the same as second place. Any gap of say 3% should be enough to get the momentum required. A small percentage, but in a crowded field where people are shopping, a powerful indicator. I don't see how anything less than second is possible for Rae, who must show his baggage isn't an albatross. If Rae were to finish second, I think people would be surprised at his ability to grow. Likely to have an impressive speech, the moment and charm may override the concerns.

It's all speculation of course, but I see where Ignatieff sits and who finishes second as the only factors that matter when we speak of growth.


Anonymous said...

That doesn't make any sense.

If Dion is in 3rd - which he likely will be - and then Brison, or Dryden or a big organzer moves to him then he is in 2nd. Then your whole theory is thrown out the window.

Anonymous said...

I think Steve is arguing that if Ignatieff has 35% and Dion finishes third on the first ballot, Brison, Dryden and the big organizers would be more likely to move to the person in second place, assuming they didn't jump on the Ignatieff bandwagon.

There's significant risk in supporting a third place Dion. Support from Dryden, Brison and your hypothetical big organizer might move Dion to second place on the next ballot, but Ignatieff might then win it, in which case they would have bet on the wrong horse.

The less risky option for delegates who want to defeat Ignatieff is to support the second place finisher, no matter who that is. Hence why Dion would be SOL in third place, unless the difference between second and third was minimal.

In fact, if the second and third place candidates are very close on the first ballot, that might be really bad news for the anti-Iggy crowd because it would be difficult to get behind a single candidate. Unless one candidate was willing to fall on their sword and support the other, they'd split the anti-Iggy vote, allowing Iggy to pick up enough votes to push him over 50%.

Steve V said...

I guess my point is no one will go to Dion if he is in third. Dryden or Brison take a huge gamble, and would have to work in concert, by supporting a third place candidate. They can't deliver all their delegates, so it makes it especially risky.

Anonymous said...

How can Kennedy place anywhere near 2nd on the first ballot, considering his campaign didn't get their form 6's into PLC(Q) in time? Good job GenerationKennedy!

Dan McKenzie said...

Kennedy got ALL their Quebec forms in. Frickin' smear merchants.

Anonymous said...

Payback's a b***h, isn't it Dan?

Kennedy's blogger minions have been smearing everybody else for months. Hopefully you'll all learn that what goes around, comes around.

Anonymous said...

I think your logic is flawed. Let's look at the results for the first ballot in the 1996 Ontario leadership race:
KENNEDY, Gerard 770
CORDIANO, Joseph 557
DUNCAN, Dwight 464
McGUINTY, Dalton 450
CASTRILLI, Anna-Marie 141
KELLS, Greg 24

There was a "anybody but Kennedy" sentiment, so why didn't Joseph Cordiano win?

SouthernOntarioan said...

Considering that both Bevilacqua and Bennett just jumped onto Rae's bandwagon I'll say that anythings possible.

Steve V said...


How are you enjoying your first year of highschool?


The example for Ontario does fit because there was a close pack, so McGuinty's move looked viable. Also Kennedy was only marginally ahead to begin with, while Ignatieff looks to have a clear lead on the first ballot.

It's just speculation, as southernontarion says anything is possible. Maybe its more a question of probabilities.

Dan McKenzie said...

"Payback's a b***h, isn't it Dan?

Kennedy's blogger minions have been smearing everybody else for months. Hopefully you'll all learn that what goes around, comes around."

Blogger minions? You're nuts.