Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Update on the NDP Leadership Race

The New Democratic Party released its membership information in the lead up to the leadership vote this fall. These numbers matter now because they will the party members eligible to cast ballots for the next leader of the party.

Impressively the membership has reached 124000 members, which roughly puts it back to where it was at the 2012 leadership race. For many observers the success in the party in getting new/renewed members was somewhat surprising. Since the 2015 election and the ousting of Tom Mulcair the party has felt somewhat listless. Anecdotally the members I have met have not felt optimistic about the party moving into the future. That's not to say the party is dead, I think the average member now sees government as out of reach for the next little while.

However, as the leadership race has moved on I have heard New Democrats expressing greater pleasure with the candidates in the race. I think for many, as with the Conservative leadership race, it felt like the A-team sat this one out. I think it's clear though that the four candidates grew during the race and expanded their abilities and reach. While coming from a place of bias, I am hearing more and more positive feedback about Guy Caron after his debate performances and a series of strong endorsements.

Barring any further withdrawals from the race the competition is between Charlie Angus (NDP - Timmins-James Bay, ON), Niki Ashton (NDP - Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, MB), Guy Caron (NDP - Rimouski-Neigette-Temiscourata-Les Basques, QC), and Jagmeet Singh (ONDP - Bramalea-Gore-Malton).

The party also announced the geographic distribution of its membership. It is as follows:

British Columbia
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Northwest Territories
Prince Edward Island

There are areas clearly where the NDP needs to do a better job in recruiting members and building the grassroots. Clearly Atlantic Canada and the North needs some attention by dedicated activists. Sadly, so does Quebec. Areas of strength are not all that surprising. British Columbia is freshly out of an election campaign and has a new NDP government, Ontario is the country's largest province and has two leadership candidates who call it home. Alberta could have stronger numbers, but it has its own government and Manitoba is home to Niki Ashton and a recent NDP government.

Geography doesn't matter in the NDP race as the election will use one member one vote. Still, this may suggest that Jagmeet Singh's efforts to sign up new members in Ontario and BC has paid off handsomely. CBC has a nice write up here. In the discussion you can see that party memberships are down across the country but up starkly in Ontario.

Looking at these numbers I cannot help but feel this provides more evidence for why a system like the Conservatives used would better serve the party. Right now this race looks like who can win over the GTA and Greater Vancouver.

As I said in an earlier post there is not a tremendous amount of information we can go off of. Jagmeet Singh and Charlie Angus can definitely be considered the top contenders, but we cannot be certain. A huge percentage of members are undecided and we are three weeks away from the vote. We now know who may be voting, even if we have no ability to predict how they will vote. 

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