Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chisholm and Dewar gain endorsements

A few endorsements were handed out over the last week to candidates in both the NDP and Bloc Québécois leadership races.

The biggest gainer this week was Robert Chisholm, an MP from Nova Scotia and former leader of the provincial party there.

Chisholm picked up the endorsement of Ryan Cleary, an MP from Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the Newfoundland and Labrador CUPE. This particular union is small, only 6,000 members, so it isn't worth very much. But overall, with the one-term Cleary, Chisholm has picked up 2.9 points and now stands at 22.4 overall, giving him 5% of the available endorsement points.

Chisholm is not the only candidate scooping up support in Atlantic Canada, however. Peggy Nash has the endorsement of NL NDP leader Lorraine Michael and former federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough, who hails from Nova Scotia. Dominic Cardy, leader of the New Brunswick NDP has opted for Thomas Mulcair, while New Brunswick MP Yvon Godin has sided with Brian Topp.

As there are about 4,300 members in Atlantic Canada, out of a total of some 95,000 nationally, this is a small pie to cut up between these candidates.

The other gainer this week was Paul Dewar, who got the endorsement of former MP Tony Martin. That bumps him up two points to 4% of the total. He has also moved from sixth to fifth, over-taking Niki Ashton.

(Click here for a description of the point system and here for a breakdown on how points are assigned.)

But how the membership breaks down provincially is something that will be absolutely crucial when the votes are counted. Let's do a simple exercise to demonstrate why.

Let's assume that every endorsement is equal, and divide up the membership by the proportion of endorsements from each province that have gone to the various candidates. For example, when the NDP last reported their membership numbers earlier this month there were 5,558 members in Quebec. There have been 43 endorsements from Quebec, and Thomas Mulcair has 31 of them, or 72%. If we give him 72% of the member votes in Quebec, that is 4,007.

If we do that for all the candidates, Brian Topp comes out way ahead with a total of 34,657 votes. His endorsements in British Columbia, 20 of the 27, gives him a huge lead as the province has 31,456 members.

Second is Mulcair with 16,227 votes, demonstrating that being far ahead in Quebec gives him very little. His greatest vote haul in this simple calculation comes from Ontario, and he gets more from Saskatchewan than he does his home province.

Third is Paul Dewar with 11,705 votes, thanks to his support in Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba.

Peggy Nash comes in with 9,385 votes, followed by Nathan Cullen (5,825), Niki Ashton (5,416), Robert Chisholm (3,172), and Roméo Saganash (388). Chisholm being so low, despite having good support in Atlantic Canada, indicates how regional bases of support can only go so far, particularly if your region does not have a large proportion of the federal party's membership.

A couple of endorsements were also handed out to the Bloc Québécois leadership contenders this past week, but with voting having been closed on Monday they may have had very little effect.

Daniel Paillé got the endorsement of former MP Thierry St-Cyr while Jean-François Fortin got the endorsement of former MP Hélène Alarie. This bumped up both candidates by two points.

There are now 100 endorsement points available in the Bloc race, so the share of the points matches the number of points each candidate has: Paillé leads with 44%, Fortin has 36.5%, and Maria Mourani has 19.5%. The end result could be different, but my gut tells me this could be close.

If Fortin becomes the leader there shouldn't be too many consequences. The race hasn't been dirty enough to force André Bellavance, who supported Paillé, or Mourani to resign from the House of Commons. Fortin will be in the news a little bit more and Quebecers will have four years to get to know him.

If Paillé wins, however, there could be some reverberations. I still don't think either Fortin or Mourani would resign, but Louis Plamondon could. He has sat in the House of Commons since the 1980s, and so has more than put in his time. He may choose to resign to give Paillé a chance to win the by-election and enter the House of Commons. But would the Bloc win that race? It's a good riding for the Bloc in terms of its profile, but Plamondon has been there so long that his support may not so easily shift over to Paillé. However, the NDP is down a touch in the polls and voters may feel that having the leader of the Bloc, small as it is, as their MP may be more worthwhile than the 60th NDP MP from the province. It would be an interesting race, though, as the NDP would not have a hard time finding a quality candidate.

We shall found out what will happen soon enough, as the results of the Bloc's leadership vote will be revealed on December 11.


  1. FYI.

    Corkey Evans, former BCNDP MLA, endorsed Cullen.


  2. Do you have a link for that?

  3. Sent you an email with the announcement.


  4. What is the process for the BQ leadership contest. What happens if no one has a majority in the first count. Does each member fill out a preferential ballot? or do they have a stage a runoff vte at a later date?

  5. Thanks M, I'll add it to the update next week.

    DL, it is preferential. I assume they will let us know the first and second "round" results.

  6. On second thought, Evans is a former MLA, which isn't included in my system.

  7. Eric, are MLAs from a candidates home province worth the same number of points as one from another province? I don't remember what you did, but it occurred to me that MLAs from a home province should be worth less since they are somewhat inclined to pick the home candidate.

  8. That is an interesting point, but MLAs are treat equally no matter where the candidate is from.

  9. BTW Eric, in case you didn't see this. Oracle Research has a new poll out of BC provincial AND federal voting preferences. Provincially the BC NDP is annhilating the BC Liberals and federally they have CPC 35%, NDP 32% and Liberals and Greens both in the teens.

  10. Betraying my BC Liberal partisan leanings here, but that poll looks an awful lot like a push poll...

  11. That's wishful thinking on your part Ryan. If you look at the questionnaire you will see that the provincial vote question is one of the first ones asked in the survey - the questions about BC Rail and about Christy Clark having no integrity come much later in the survey long after people will have expressed their vote preference. The fact is Christy Clark is as dumb as a post and has proven to be a fiasco as BC Liberal leader - she will stall having an election as long as possible and then she will be flushed down the toilet by Adrian Dix and the NDP.

  12. I agree with you Ryan. I read the poll and found that it asked about specific issues that might change someone's opinion or subconsciously make him feel guilty about voting liberal. I guess that's what a push poll is :) maybe the other questions were asked after knowing the voter intentions. btw, this is coming from an NDPer

  13. You guys obviously don't even know what a "push poll" even is. A "push poll" is actually not a poll at all. Its a dirty trick tactic employed quite often in the US (and perhaps to some extent in Canada). NO DATA IS COLLECTED in a push poll. Its when a campaign wants to spread false rumours about an opponent and they use the guide of conducting a poll to spread the false rumour. A classic example was the Republican primary in South carolina in 2000 where every single Republican in the state got a call from some fictitious "polling company" asking them if they would be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he had an illegitimate black daughter! It worked an McCain lost the primary because the "push poll" spread the false rumour among the largely racist people who are republicans in SC that McCain had slept with a Black woman.

    This poll in BC strikes me as a a perfectly reasonable poll - and unlike a "push poll" it actually is a poll. I could see that if you asked the provincial vote question at the end of the survey AFTER all those questions about Christy Clark's broken promises etc... it might have some influence on the results - but that's not what happened. The vote preference questions were asked at the beginning of the survey - so there was no way for questions asked later in the survey to influence what people said at the beginning.

  14. Agreed, this isn't a push poll. It's usually better to ask the voting intentions question first, before the "right track" and "issues" questions, but that is a minor quibble.

  15. Fair enough, push poll is the wrong term, but I still found it... iffy at least. Not a well known polling firm (though the polls it has posted on its website seem to have done fairly well), a slew of biased questions, and paid for by a "non-partisan" group dedicated to destroying the BC Liberals (IntegrityBC).

    Just a small point DL - but any broken promises asked about were things that occurred under Gordon Campbell's watch, not Christy Clark's. Still under the BC Liberals' watch though so I think it's fair for us to have to wear that.

    The other nitpick I'd have with the poll is that it has 7.9% of people having voted BC Conservative in the previous election, compared to the 2% they actually got in the previous election. I know people aren't always truthful when asked questions like this, but is that level of over-representation normal?

    Either way though, the BC Liberals are still down in the polls. I'm not too worried though - we've been significantly down between elections before and come back. We'll see how things look this time next year. Certainly good polling results for Adrian Dix though and something for him to be pleased about.

  16. I don't see a major problem with the vote intention question. It was asked before the more "problematic" questions.

    What this poll looks like to me is one that was jointly intended to get a snapshot of the political situation, and then second to test potential lines of attack against the BC Liberals. But again, the vote intention questions were asked early, and so not tainted by the later questions.

  17. Interesting public poll from CBC about the NDP candidates' popularity:

    Romeo Saganash and Paul Dewar seem to be miles ahead of everyone else. Perhaps this shows that they're the most attractive option for people who aren't involved too closely, which are generally the people who are represented in large online polls like this. With Saganash, at least, you can see why this would be - he comes with his own built-in story like Obama did.

    Considering that the NDP uses a more populist one-member-one-vote system, could this be an important consideration? Saganash doesn't have all that much support by people who're really close to the race, but they won't make up a large percentage of the overall votes.

  18. What would be interesting is to also have the sitting MLAs/MPPs/MHAs/MPs that have not endorsed counted as well. Basically how many endorsement points are there out there available from sitting legislators?

    One could add former federal leaders, former premiers, and former leaders of the official opposition, though some of these people are no longer members of the NDP.


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