Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Shape of the NDP Leadership Race

Note: In the wake of the posting of this piece several criticism have emerged which I wish to address. First, the Brampton South NDP has reached out to every leadership campaign and solicited their interest in visiting our riding to meet the regional membership. Second, this piece does not discuss Niki Ashton. This is, I admit, my own bias. I didn't address her directly because I didn't wish to publicly point out why I think she is a flawed candidate for leadership. Ashton came dead last in the last leadership race, and I have not seen in her the capacity to be leader now. I will add that speaking to members has confirmed my biases. I haven't met, in person, a party member who is ranking her first or second. If you're a supporter of Ashton I wish you the best of luck, but on an opinion-based blog I am not required to write about anything or anyone other than what I choose to. 

For those outside observers the NDP leadership race may seem like a quiet conversation in a neighbouring room. As a local activist it has seemed akin to several independent campaigns that do not really interact with one another until they cross paths in the debates. I can proudly say that my riding association, Brampton South, under the leadership of our riding association president has had Peter Julian, Guy Caron, and soon Charlie Angus in to meet with local members. I feel this has given me a greater sense of what's going on in the campaign than perhaps the average member.

I should say, that while I am not formally committed, I am inclined at the moment to support Guy Caron. My interest in Caron started after I watched the first debate and he displayed the kind of humour and rhetorical deftness that I think the next leader will require. My support of Mr. Caron was solidified when I saw him speak in person. He is a trained economist, and didn't back down, or shoot talking points at any of the questions posed to him. Perhaps most importantly when asked about certain economic problems he said there were no easy solutions and to those making blanket promises, like free tuition, were oversimplifying and misleading party members.

The next important caveat is to remember that no one knows anything about this leadership race. Polling party races is incredibly difficult. This is only magnified when you consider the issues around using a ranked ballot. Endorsements and fundraising may indicate some things, but they are not definitive indicators.

The media's near-total disinterest in the NDP leadership exists in stark contrast to the attention is paid to the Conservative race that concluded a few weeks ago. It is pat NDP response to cry into our beers about how the media maligns us, but I feel the contrast is justifiably strong to make that point. To be fair, we don't have any 'crazy' people running, and gaining support to lead the party. The general consensus among the candidate is to generally align more clearly with left-wing policies. There is little disagreement among the candidates and they are all perceived as serious contenders. In short there are no Kellie Leitchs or Kevin O'Leary to grab media attention for the contest, and so it languishes in the public consciousness somewhere back where PEI provincial elections do.

What we do know is that Peter Julian has withdrawn from the race due to disappointing levels of support and fundraising. Charlie Angus has led in polls, which are notoriously unreliable in this context. Jagmeet Singh has a lot of positive perception in the media. He is often spoken of as a breath of fresh air. Being a Brampton and Toronto-area New Democrat I see a lot of enthusiasm for him, but I am aware I exist within a bubble. Singh also leads the candidates with endorsements. Endorsements are not necessary for victory, but Andrew Scheer had the most caucus support during the Conservative campaign. July 31st is when the next fundraising numbers will be disclosed.

I have heard Eric Grenier, polls analyst with CBC, say that Ontario and British Columbia are the big targets/battlegrounds in this leadership race. The NDP uses a one-member-one-vote system, and those provinces have the most members. This would seem to indicate that Jagmeet Singh and Charlie Angus have a slight advantage. Singh has also been building a network in British Columbia for years and has received significant endorsements there. Quebec is a serious question in this leadership race. While 2015 devastated the party's standings in the province the NDP still has a significant presence there. I think it could be argued that Tom Mulcair partially won in 2012 because members wanted to hold on to those Quebec seats. Would this give an advantage to Guy Caron?

In situations like this often gut instincts and anecdotal evidence is just as valuable as 'hard' data. First, it doesn't seem like anyone is running away with the race. New Democrats are undecided and have no engaging issue that divides the membership/candidates. Indications would suggest that Charlie Angus and Jagmeet Singh are frontrunners in a very fluid race. I think momentum is behind Singh, but there is a lot of time for that to evaporate. This is likely the shape of the range until the vote. What do you think? How do you see the race at present?


David Heap said...

Interesting that your Riding Association has yet to have an event with Niki Ashton to speak to members and supporters in your area. Not sure what your "indicators" are, but according to the latest Mainstreet poll on iPolitics, she is the close second runner to Angus, with Caron and Singh a long ways behind:

Ashton also has by far the strongest appeal with younger voters (45.7% amongst voters 18-35). Your RA will be doing well to invite her to address local members & activists -- she often draws well beyond "traditional" support base, bringing new blood into this race, and into the party.

Harry Covert said...

Ever heard of Niki Ashton?

Patti Chmelyk said...

Niki has been invited - several times and her campaign responded to my invitations on June 28. She will be coming to Brampton South at the end of August - date to be determined.
Patti Chmelyk, President, Brampton South NDP

Malcolm+ said...

It is curious to read an account of a four person race in which someone who has withdrawn is mentioned twice but that the only female candidate isn't mentioned at all.

Harry Covert said...

"Indications would suggest that Charlie Angus and Jagmeet Singh are frontrunners in a very fluid race". What indications would those be? Just saying it does not make it so.The most recent poll has Angus first , Ashton a close second and Singh way in the distance.

"There are other signals that indicate Singh's appeal could be limited. A recent Mainstreet/iPolitics poll suggests that Singh is struggling among existing members of the NDP, while Angus and Ashton are well ahead.

The poll, which surveyed 1,445 party members (contacted from a list of NDP donors and five provincial party rolls), suggested that Angus led with 23 per cent support, followed by Ashton at 20 per cent.

Singh had just 7.5 per cent support, putting him narrowly ahead of Caron's six per cent."

Wayne said...

U GO NIKI🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊

Annamarie Bohus said...

I agree with your take on the Leadership race so far and also regarding Guy Caron. I was at the same meet-and-greet' you mention, and was much impressed by Guy, and until I'd met him and heard him in person, my choice would have been Charlie. That said, I look forward to tomorrow evening's meet Charlie event.

Jan Mowbray said...

Interesting article. I appreciate the views expressed. For myself, I will not vote for Jagmeet Singh. I am disappointed with him in his goal of eliminating the universality of the Old Age Pension. He would have all seniors go through a means test. Doing so would create a laborious and time prohibitive process that could create hardship for a great many people while waiting for the process to unroll. Let the taxation process take care of those who get too much money.