Delegate counts aside, my grading of the individual campaigns:
The sleeper candidate, that really wasn't taken seriously from the outset, Dion has been on a steady ascent since the spring. Despite little money, uneven organization and a lack of institutional support, Dion has managed to position himself as a serious contender. Dion has had a consistent, detailed message, demonstrated surprising passion and has shown a media savvy that has afforded him a lot of positive press. Getting noticed, standing out from the crowd, was always Dion's biggest challenges and he did an excellent job in distinguishing himself. For the most part, a flawless campaign that has deserved momentum.
I would have given Dion an A, but the recurring theme of "I know best", accompanied by the grumpy rhetoric, has given Dion an edge which could be a turnoff. Dion is a humble man, but sometimes his inability to acknowledge others contributions conveys an arrogance which isn't attractive.
Kennedy launched his campaign with a great deal of hype attached, that was somewhat unfair and set him up for early criticism. The bar was set high, and Kennedy looked challenged to meet the expectations. However, from the onset, Kennedy was able to put in place a very solid organization, with an extremely motivated base of support. Kennedy was quite successful in speaking to westerners, in a way that went beyond the usual afterthought soundbite, like the requisite pat on the head.
An early criticism of the Kennedy campaign was a lack of policy positions, but throughout the summer Kennedy addressed this issue with bold ideas. The highlight for Kennedy, coming out with a strong position on Afghanistan, while many of his rivals played fence sitter. Kennedy successfully tackled the "lack of foreign policy" experience with his detailed and thoughtful ideas on Canada's place in the world, and a good understanding of our values.
Kennedy ran a very positive campaign, maybe at his own peril, because the media largely ignored the message. The media finally took some notice, when Kennedy scored high on super weekend, which demonstrated how successful his grassroots approach had been.
I would have scored Kennedy even higher, but he made a serious tactical error in not spending more time trying to secure some support in Quebec. The province was always a challenge for Kennedy, for a myriad of reasons, but I think a better effort could have given him at least semi-respectable numbers and he would have looked far more viable heading into the convention.
Rae has been quite successful in addressing his past-record, as well as the johnny come lately criticisms. Rae has enjoyed a great deal of momentum, through several high-profile endorsements, tantalizing poll numbers and Rae's natural ability to charm the hell out of everybody. Rae has often looked the wise statesman, with the steady hand and people seem comfortable with the idea of him at the helm. Experience was seen as a double-edged sword for Rae, but overall he has done a good job turning his pedigree into a plus. Rae has avoided large gaffes throughout the process, and although his careful, say mostly nothing approach has been disappointing, you do have to respect the tactic.
I don't score Rae higher because frankly the media has given him this place almost by default. From day one, Rae was put beside Ignatieff as the one to watch. This perception was largely a function of backroom opinion. Amazingly, Rae has revealed himself to be the insider with the support of the old powerbase. The Liberal Party is a bloated, mostly top-down entity, so Rae's standing at this point isn't particularly surprising, nor do I think it speaks to an exceptional campaign, more an ability to play the game.
Rae's campaign has been, substantively, the most pedestrian and the least inspiring. I don't sense any understanding of where the Party sits in the public psyche, nor do I see any urgency in Rae's message. Rae enjoys a lot of old-guard support, but I haven't seen any evidence that he has connected with the new order in any way. Bland, but effective I guess.
Depending on your perspective, Ignatieff is either a disaster or a revelation, probably both. Great organization, with a healthy combination of new and old, Ignatieff has done a great job building a national team. The early media darling, Ignatieff received the lion's share of the press and this fact gave him immediate momentum. Decent debater, but amazingly eloquent and inspirational on the stump, Ignatieff has offered plenty of substance. The problem, some of the ideas are controversial, divisive and suggest a lack of political polish. Ignatieff's speak on his feet mentality is mostly refreshing, but equally dangerous. I won't re-hash the gaffes, but there is no doubt that Ignatieff can be his own worst enemy.
No reasonable person can say that Ignatieff has ran a great campaign. The media has been harsh, but that is really irrelevant because this condition will persist in a national campaign and that is the bottomline. Where Ignatieff doesn't get credit, his courage in putting forth policy that isn't focus group tested. Dion seems to enjoy the environmental candidate tag, but to my mind Ignatieff has offered the most progressive, serious environmental plan, that puts politics a distant second in thought process. On substance, Ignatieff is the most interesting and daring, which isn't necessarily a negative in a era where politicians rarely say anything. Ignatieff speaks like a person, not a politician, never a bad trait in my mind.
I give Ignatieff an average score, because from day one he was always the frontrunner. Ignatieff had a chance to really build a insurmountable wave, so his current situation is a minor failure if expectation is your guide.