Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dewar, Ashton make endorsement gains

Another week in the NDP leadership race has passed, with the debate in Halifax ushering in a spate of endorsements from the provincial NDP in Nova Scotia. But thanks to a handful of caucus endorsements from Ontario, both Paul Dewar and Niki Ashton have made important gains in the endorsement rankings.
Paul Dewar landed the most valuable endorsements, getting the support of Ontario MPs Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) and Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt). Mathyssen is a three-term MP, while Gravelle has been elected twice. In all, that gives Dewar an extra 12.5 points. Add to that the endorsement of Maurice Smith, a Nova Scotia MLA, and Dewar has made a gain of 13 points this week.

This has bumped him up 1.6 percentage points to 14% of those currently available. This still puts him below the 14.2% he reached in mid-January.

Like Nathan Cullen last week, Niki Ashton has re-emerged with a caucus endorsement of her own: Carol Hughes, two-term MP from Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. This gives Ashton an extra five points, bumping her up 0.7 percentage points to 3.7%. She is still behind Cullen, but is moving away from Roméo Saganash, who is unchanged at 1.2%, and Martin Singh.

(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.)

The top three ranking candidates also landed new endorsements, but only Paul Dewar and Niki Ashton made gains in their share of the points.

Thomas Mulcair received the endorsement of St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP Ryan Cleary, who had originally endorsed Robert Chisholm. Cleary is in his first term and gives Mulcair an extra 2.5 points, but he still loses 0.3 percentage points. He now sits at 20.3%, his lowest of the campaign so far.

Peggy Nash received the endorsement of three Nova Scotia MLAs, Pam Birdsall, Vicki Conrad, and Marilyn More, the last of which had endorsed Chisholm while he was still in the race. This gives Nash an extra 1.5 points, but she has slipped 0.7 percentage points to 24.9%.

Brian Topp also got the nod from some Nova Scotia MLAs while in the province, getting the support of Lenore Zann and Mat Whynott (who had endorsed Chisholm). This gives him an extra point, but he is down a percentage point to 31.9%.

The four frontrunners are beginning to bunch-up in the endorsement rankings, which also seems to be the case in the race itself. There are only 17.9 percentage points separating first (Topp) from fourth (Dewar) in the rankings, compared to the 18.3 points that separated first (Topp) from second (Mulcair) when I launched them.

Nathan Cullen and Niki Ashton are also beginning to lift themselves up after trailing for so long. And while Cullen has been getting the most positive press recently, it's worth noting that Ashton currently has as much caucus support as Dewar (four MPs), and the support of only two fewer sitting MPs than Nash. It is experience that makes the difference, however. Ashton's caucus support (excluding herself) has won a total of five elections, the same as Cullen's, whereas Nash's has won eight and Dewar's 11.

By comparison, Topp's caucus support has won 28 elections while Mulcair's has won 40 (but most of those were in Quebec).

The race is far from over and in many ways it is just beginning. With the debates starting to now take centre stage, what came before were almost the preliminary rounds. The candidates were lining up endorsements, getting a feel for the race, and preparing their organizations. They only have a few more weeks to sign-up new members. The debate in Halifax provided more contrast between the candidates than the ones that came before it, and I suspect future debates will serve to separate the contenders more and more. But by the time the race approaches the convention, it's quite possible that the frontrunners will be even closer together in support than they appear to be today.


  1. It seems to me that it would be in the NDP's best interests if the bottom two, or even 4 candidates were to drop out soon. The debates would be much less unwieldy, and it would serve to focus attention on the folks who actually have a chance to win. Certainly Singh, Saganash, and probably Ashton (although she is a very impressive young lady) are going nowhere, and should fall on their swords in the interest of the party.

    1. I agree. Having 8-9 candidates in an hour debate is just overwhelming, especially when they are in violent agreement with each other. Saganash and Ashton are going no where, and offer no concrete policy ideas that different themselves from the top-tier candidates.

      Ultimately, I think this race between sticking to the party's roots (Topp/Nash) or essentially moving the party to the center (Mulcair). This is a big decision for the NDP, and I am surprised there isn't more debate on this question.

  2. What the NDP should have avoided doing was giving every candidate air time - including the ones with no real chance of winning. We're far enough along for the debate hosts to make the decision based on polling data and so on...

    1. I disagree. I hate that the Americans do this with their debates, highlighting only the frontrunners. It's anti-democracy and anti-ideas. I love that the NDP are giving each candidate equal time.

      It's not going to make me vote for them, true, but I respect them more for it.

    2. I don't mind them being in the first couple of debates - but at some point, it's pretty clear that the bottom rung aren't going to get anywhere. That's just my opinion.

  3. Certainly Singh will drop out at some point, once he boosts his profile enough to assist him in his eventual bid for a seat. Saganash, Cullen and Ashton are all running to secure a better position in the shadow cabinet if they move to the right person.

    If one of the front runners wanted to get a bump, each of these lesser candidates has a price and it shouldn't be too hard to find out what it is.

  4. This is not an unusual number of candidates to have running for the leadership of a major party in Canada. I think there were something like 9 or 10 people running for the Liberal leadership in 2006 and if we go back in time - with the exception of cases like the Paul Martin coronation - many other contests had a lot of candidates. I think that there were at least 7 or 8 people running PCs 1967, Libs 1968, PCs 1976, PCs 1983, Libs 1984, PCs 1993 etc...When the day comes that Harper quits - you can be sure that there will be a very large field of people running to replace him in the CPC.

  5. I gotta strongly agree with both DL and Ira here. I think it's great that voters are given an opportunity to examine so many options. Unlike in the US, our leadership races uses preferential ballots, so there isn't the same danger of vote-splitting which pushes people to drop out.


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