Sunday, December 03, 2006

What's A Few Votes?

I'm not a fan of strategic voting in a convention. Martha Hall Findlay ran a good campaign, but her support was what it was, and arguably she should have dropped out prior to the convention- I guess I'm old school in believing a candidate should actually have a chance. The fact Findlay was the lone woman left in the race tempers my resistance to "statement" candidates, because it was good to have her on stage. However, all the talk Thursday and Friday of people parking their votes with Findlay on the first ballot, in a show of allegiance, seemed flippant, maybe even irresponsible, for my tastes. Objectively, did a few more delegates really make Findlay look more relevant? Conversely, if people didn't give her the symbolic support would her efforts have been diminished? My point, Martha Hall Findlay had already attained her place in this story, a few extra delegates were irrelevant. I guess what I reject is the mischief of thinking you can play with delegates.

Now, read this little tidbit, and wonder what gestures can mean to the big picture:
Of all the sweaty palmed shakedowns, the not-so-secret pacts and the unseemly convention floor shoving matches, the most pivotal turned out to be a whimsical decision late Friday by a half dozen or so of Gerard Kennedy's ex-officio delegates to loan their support to last-place contender Martha Hall Findlay on the first ballot.

They felt confident Kennedy could spare a few votes and hoped they might be able to boost the lone female contender ahead of seventh-place Joe Volpe.

But those few votes made all the difference. Kennedy wound up slipping into fourth, just two votes behind Dion. The psychological impact of those paltry two votes on the 5,000 delegates turned out to be huge.

Dion was suddenly the guy with momentum, however slight, and Kennedy's campaign effectively stalled.

"You wonder how the momentum changes if Gerard had been in third rather than fourth place today," one Kennedy strategist mused shortly after Kennedy pulled out.

A classy Dion supporter agrees:
Two votes. That’s how far ahead Stephane moves ahead of Gerard on that first ballot. Just think about that. If Kennedy’s team had gotten just three more people out he would have stayed in third, and who knows how things would have played-out. The symbolism of being in third place, even if only by the thinnest of margins, is substantial. It’s the big mo.

You have to question the arrogance of the ex-officos thinking Kennedy had enough room to play some chess. As a Kennedy supporter, I was really worried that Dion would overtake Kennedy, because he had the ex-officos, momentum and there were lots of undeclared. I thought people were present to elect a leader, not engage in some warped sense of unity to prove a point. You know the one about the butterfly in Africa shaking its wings and that eventually resulting in a hurricane?

5 comments:

UWHabs said...

It's all possible would have, should have things. Sure, there were 6 ex-officios from GK that voted Martha, but I'm sure a few Dion people did as well.

And honestly, I am a big supporter of people casting the ballots for Martha. I think it would have been worse had Martha only received her 30-40 votes, instead of the amount she actually did.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy actually would have been ahead of Dion by about 20 votes or more. On Wednesday night, the Rae camp won an appeal against the Kennedy, Dryden and Ignatieff camps that lost the Kennedy camp 17 Alberta delegates. These were cross riding delegates from a new ruling in AB last week and now overturned. These were earned spots by the Kennedy camp. The Rae team purposely kicked Kennedy out of 3rd place. That is waht really happened.

Penny said...

"No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should"

It was a classy thing that Kennedy did, going straight to Dion, without spending hours anguishing about what to do. I did not support him, but that act alone sets him up for a great cabinet experience under Dion and will give him the credibility he needs for a run at the leadership later on.

All the candidates behaved with class at the end. I'm proud of all of them.

Scotian said...

I was very pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed watching this convention. I must also say I am very content with this result, this in these last few weeks had become my preference although I had resigned myself to a likely Rae win (I really doubted Ignatieff could get 50%+1 unless the alternative was really bad like Volpe and much as I hate to say it personally Brison since he is still too new even if I am a fan of his overall) at this convention. So for me seeing Dion win and seeing how gracefully this played out and how minimal the rancor ended up being within a party with 8 candidates on the first ballot was a very pleasant sight to see. This gives me real hope that the Liberals can come back against Harper next time out, likely a minority at start to prove themselves and then a majority once they earn their spurs running things again.

As for the matter of the few votes, such is the stuff of future convention legends/lore; these things happen and show yet again the law of unintended consequences at work in how a leadership race/election result can play out. While I admire the thought of boosting MHF, it was clear to me as an outside the party observer at home that there was a sharp tightening of the race between Dion and Kennedy and it was foolish to not have made sure every vote counted for Kennedy in the second ballot for the real initial positioning on the floor. It shows yet again how individual decisions can change the direction of nations in elections, and that is a good thing I believe.

Steve V said...

"All the candidates behaved with class at the end."

Integrity was on full display.

Scotian

Nice to see you around, and I think your observations are bang on! Graceful is a tidy adjective to describe the whole affair.