Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nash and Cullen make endorsement gains

The NDP leadership race is starting to kick into a higher gear, with the next debate to be put on by the party scheduled for this weekend in Halifax. The race is starting to gain a bit of attention as the candidates are beginning to (mildly) differentiate themselves from one another. And in the past week a few major endorsements were handed out.
Peggy Nash has, by far, made the biggest gain this past week in the NDP leadership endorsement rankings, thanks to a handful of high profile labour endorsements.

Nash picked up the support of the Federations of Labour of Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and the Northern Territories for a combined membership of 924,000 people. That is huge, and in addition to the endorsement of the United Steelworkers Toronto Area Council (representing 13,000 people) gives Nash a major 56.2-point bump in the endorsement rankings, propelling her 6.8 percentage points to 25.6% and ahead of Thomas Mulcair. Nash now trails only Brian Topp.

Nathan Cullen also made a splash this week, the first of the second tier of leadership candidates to announce an endorsement in quite some time. Cullen received the support of two British Columbian NDP MPs, Fin Donnelly of New Westminster-Coquitlam and Alex Atamanenko of British Columbia Southern Interior. Donnelly is a two-term MP while Atamanenko is a three-term MP, giving Cullen an additional 12.5 points. He now stands at 4.3% of the total, up 1.7 percentage points. That puts him on top of the second tier, ahead of Niki Ashton.

(Click here to learn more about the endorsement system and here for how the points are awarded. And, as always, you can right-click the list of endorsers and open in a new tab or window to magnify it.)

Brian Topp also picked up a few endorsements from Chris Charlton, three-term MP from Hamilton Mountain, and former MP Bill Siksay. Together, that gives Topp an extra 9.5 points but with Nash's big gain he has still fallen 3.1 percentage points to 32.9% of the total, his lowest of the campaign so far.

Thomas Mulcair obtained only one endorsement this past week from the United Association Local 46, a union of 7,000 plumbers, steamfitters, and welders in the GTA. That gives him an extra 0.4 points, but he has dropped three percentage points to 20.6% and now stands in third behind Topp and Nash.

Without any new endorsements that are recorded by this system, Paul Dewar has fallen 1.8 percentage points to 12.4%, while Ashton is down 0.5 points to 3% and Roméo Saganash is down 0.2 points to 1.2%.

Receiving the support of labour organizations from across the country is a bit of a coup for Peggy Nash, who appears to be the labour candidate. She has more union support than any other candidate by a wide margin. By my count, Paul Dewar has the combined support of unions and organizations representing 480,000 people, Brian Topp has the support of a 250,000-strong union, and Thomas Mulcair has union support totaling some 20,000 (though he does have the support of several high profile former labour leaders). Nash's union support combines for more than 1.4 million union members.

Of course, some of these organizations overlap and not all of them are explicitly affiliated with the New Democratic Party. Nevertheless, Nash does seem to have the support of the labour world.

It's good news for Nathan Cullen that he picked up some caucus support, as his plan for combined NDP/Liberal/Green nominations is controversial within the party. Cullen has yet to receive the support of anyone from outside of British Columbia, however, a province already being mined for endorsements by Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair, but also Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar, and Niki Ashton. Though he might get a good chunk of the British Columbia membership, he'll need more than that to survive late into voting day.

It appears likely that the first ballot vote will put Topp, Nash, Mulcair, and Dewar all in decent positions. The big question is what happens on the second ballot. At least one candidate will be forced to drop-off but more could as well, potentially throwing their support behind one or two of the other candidates. And if the membership sees that one candidate or another has under-performed expectations, their votes might bleed to one of the others that has emerged as a front-runner. Though a good deal of members will undoubtedly vote via mail, and so already have their second and subsequent choices recorded, the day of the leadership vote could nevertheless be quite interesting.


  1. There's only one vote. Nobody will vote after they see who drops off the first.

  2. No, people will have the opportunity to vote online between ballots or on the convention floor.

  3. You are right Eric. But I think the vast majority of voting-members will submit a preferential ballot. You can also do that online or on the convention floor.

    Most people have jobs, and don't have time to sit around for hours watching TV to see who gets knocked off. Especially in an 8-candidate race.

    So I don't think a losing-candidate putting his/her support behind another candidate will have much of an effect.

  4. The convention is being held on a Saturday, so I'm not sure that a job is going to get in the way of many people. You're right that most probably will vote ahead of time with a preferential ballot.

    But party members are different from regular voters - I expect more than a few will enthusiastically take part in the voting on the day of the convention.

    It looks like it could be close enough of a race that votes on the day of the convention could be very important.



  7. Interesting how far apart Leger and Forum's polls are in Alberta.

  8. I've been saying it for weeks - Nash is going to win.

  9. I would question the weight assigned to current union leaders versus past union leaders in the endorsement rankings. Current leadership is not in a position to vote on behalf of the members, so the real question is whether they will be able to persuade members to vote differently. There's no reason to believe a respected but retired union leader would have any less influence than current leaders.

    Consequently, shouldn't union leadership endorsements be scored the same as MP endorsements, with points per year served, rather than 100% for current leadership and 0% for past?
    Furtherm, since union members often don't vote NDP, let alone join the party, shouldn't the endorsements be weighted based on the number of NDP members from that union? For example, query whether even half of OFL or CAW members even vote NDP.

  10. The weights assigned to unions was based on past NDP leadership races at the provincial levels.

  11. I think you vasted overemphasize the number of votes that will be cast baalot by ballot on March 24. The recent provincial NDP leadership contests in BC and Ontario used a similar system and in each about 85% of the votes were cast in advance.
    So the scope for horse-trading and "throwing support" between ballots on decision day will be minimal.
    You also give vastly too much weight to endorsements by unions and the party establishment. It is evident to everyone involved in the leadership race that Topp's support with the brass is not being duplicated in the grassroots. Topp is running no better than a distant third and maybe even fourth.

  12. But in the 2009 ONDP leadership vote, 25% of the vote was expressly allocated to union affiliates. That won't be the case in the federal NDP leadership race.

  13. I used other NDP races as well. But I think it is fair to say that labour makes up an important part of the NDP's membership, whether or not a part of the vote is put aside for them specifically.

  14. How can it be "safe to say" labour makes up an important part of NDP membership without present numbers?

    Even if we were to assume that, how can it make any sense at all to assign endorsement points based on the size of a union with no sense of what proportion of its members belong to the NDP. For example, the CAW has endorsed Liberals in recent past. In Ontario generally, many unions vascillate between Liberals and NDP.


  16. "As MPs prepare to return to the House of Commons after a six-week winter break, a new online poll by Abacus Data, released Wednesday afternoon, shows the Liberals have increased their support by three points over the past month while the NDP and Conservative’s popularity has dropped by three points. "

    It just gets better, eh?

    1. LOL- Gaining steam? I'd say steaming up the crystal ball. WOW ... all this exposure, and 2 points up on the May 2nd tally. Priceless.

  17. would love to see an update on the Alberta situation with several new polls out recently. thanks!

  18. Hi Don,t forget Qc. I know that it is not there that the membership numbers is the highest but we don't enough history of how they'll vote to establish a prediction int their case. One think is that Mulcair is very popular in Qc (non NPD members and members) so the Qc members will naturally go with him with argument that conserving NPD momentum in Qc have more hcance with him. But my impression is fragile.


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