Thursday, July 13, 2006

Media knows best, and leadership phase two

I read with interest a piece in the Toronto Star saying that, according to their investigation, Gerard Kennedy signed-up the most new Liberal members by the deadline.

There's still no official numbers but I wouldn't be surprised, as Gerard has a very strong team across the country working hard for him on the ground and a lot of caucus support, which is important for such an organizational effort as well.

What I noted with some interest and amusement in the Star's piece though was this graph:

It has been conventional wisdom in the party that MP Michael Ignatieff (Etobicoke Lakeshore) has had a strong lead, followed by former Ontario premier Bob Rae.

NO IT HASN'T! That has been the conventional wisdom in the MEDIA, not in the party. Rae is a media darling but his support on the ground is limited, a mile wide but an inch deep. With respect to Bob, he has never been a frontrunner. The Rae as frontrunner myth is and was solely a media creation. Silly, silly Star.

Phase Two

On another note, now that the sign-up phase is over, and given the somewhat low overall numbers of new members, the real challenge now over the coming two months will be to convert and bring the existing Liberal membership base onside.

I think that will be more of an important factor than it has been in past leadership races, as we oldtimers are a higher percentage of the membership pool this time, and that's a healthy thing.

Also, I think it requires a different set of skills than those required to sign-up new members. Now it's the time to talk about policy, and to get specific about ideas and vision for the country. No longer will "we're focusing on signing-up members" be an acceptable non-answer to policy questions.

Lastly, I wouldn't view all these new member sign-up numbers for each candidate as set in stone. I think, as we have a real debate of ideas in this next phase, many of those people will be up for grabs as they hear more from all the candidates. It should be interesting, and fun.

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Robert said...

This is the first time I've ever belonged to a party during a leadership drive, and it's been an interesting perspective.

For what membership driving I was doing, I wasn't trying to bring in lots of bodies, but rather making sure that friends and acquaintances who I thought would be inclined were aware of the option to join the party and have a say.

Most people I know are pretty independant thinkers, so even the ones who were interested in joining were going to look at all the candidates and decide for themselves (which is a good thing).

Kyle Carruthers said...

I have been saying the same thing about Rae for months. The fact that the media has been portraying Rae and Ignatieff as the two frontrunners--both completely unelectable candidates--tells us that the Harper-Media honeymoon ain't over till the fat lady sings.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Ignatieff is a frontrunner, I don't think that can be denied. But I think he'll peak on the first ballot with 0 room for growth on subsequent ballots.

Now, as for Rae, well, not all 11 will be on the ballot come December, or even by super weekend in September, it will be interesting to see who drops out and where they and their supporters go.

Robert, that's exactly the way it should be. People research their options and make their decision. I've never been one to pressure anyone in either way, if asked I just explain why I'm supporting Stephane. We benefit from everyone making informed, independant decisions. Unfortunently, it being politics, there will always be shenanigans. C'est la guerre.

Bailey said...

Bob Rae, lives in my riding here in Toronto (Parkdale-High Park) and I know of one person who is supporting him who was on the riding executive in the past few years.

Mind you it's not as if he's the only leader connected to this riding, Gerard Kennedy used to represent the riding provincially, and Michael Ignatieff represents the riding west, so that's where most of the support in the riding is going to.

I would say that it says something that Rae is unable to get more support amongst those within the riding he lives in but honest I doubt many people in the riding even know he lives where he lives. Liberals included.

Kyle Carruthers said...


If Ignatieff is going to tank after the first round can he really be called a "frontrunner". I totally agree with you that he has zero room to growth. As I wrote in my blog today, he likely has a plurality of support but in light of the fact that he is unnacceptable to >50% of the party he cannot be called a "frontrunner".

Manitoba Liberal said...

There are 11 people running, but in te end only one of Ignateiff, Kennedy, Dion or everyone's bland second or third choice Dryden is going to win. Volpe, Rae and Brison are going to bring some delegates and still be around come the convention, but Mac King has a better chance of rising from the dead than any of those 3 do of winning this time around.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Kyle, I think you're right, but it depends on your definition of frontrunner. Conventional wisdom is he's tops on the first ballot and peaks there. That scenario could hold true, or things could shake-out differently. Anyway, even if his second choice support is low I think his amoutn of first choice support makes it hard not to call him a frontrunner. Anything can still happen, and there's worst positions to be in.

calgarygrit said...

I think Ignatieff, Dion, and Kennedy are the three with the best chance to win. Rae and Volpe will bring a ton of delegates but I have a hard time imagining a scenario where either wins. I suppose someone like Dryden or Brison could come out of nowhere and win but I'd be surprised.

Ignatieff will be first on the first ballot so I don't have a problem calling him the frontrunner. But if you were puting Vegas odds on this race, I think it would be very hard to rank the candidates by their chance to win it all.

Budd Campbell said...

I think the whole thing is irrelevant. On top of the Liberal Party's overwhelming debts, which scared away all the serious candidates, you now have the complication of the new $1,000 limit colliding with the proposed $995 delegate fee.

And can someone tell me, please, why are the Liberals trying to go back to the future with an old-fashioned delegated leadership convention?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Actually Bud, if we're to believe the stories a few weeks ago the Liberal Party is now debt free.

Something does have to be done about the delegate fee though, esp. given the new donation limit, and I'd imagine something will happen. Something has to.

On delegated conventions I don't know if it's going to the past as it's what the Liberals have always had, so if anything it's sticking with the past. I would like to see reform of the system myself, but it's too late for this time.

Steve V said...

Ignatieff may have no growth beyond the first ballot, but Rae may be the wild card in this scenario. Speculation for sure, but I could easily see Rae walking across the floor to throw his support behind his lifelong friend.

The surprise may be Volpe, and given Ignatieff's public call for him to withdraw, this could come back to haunt him.

Kyle Carruthers said...

Luckily people have minds of their own. The few Rae people I know wouldnt support Iggy if their life depended on it (I hyperbolize of course).

Steve V said...

Kyle that is true. However, it is also true that the walk across a convention hall can be a defining moment in the voting, especially with no clear first or second ballot winner. Alot of Rae's people may ignore an endorsement, although historically alot of delegates follow, but it also effects other people's supporters. Momentum will be the key to winning this thing, I don't think we can discount what Rae may do.

ottlib said...

I don't think that there is a real frontrunner in this race just yet.

There are three or four candidates that seem to have a real shot at this point.

However, the convention is just a little under six months away and we all know that six months is a lifetime in politics.

So I am not going to worry about this just yet. I am going to listen to the candidates now that they have no choice but to talk about policy.

And to paraphrase BCer in TO, I am going to sit back and enjoy the ride because the next months are going to be fun and interesting.