Sunday, September 17, 2006

For those of us who love to over-analyze numbers...

...we've reached an important milestone recently.

Nationally, we've reached the point that, in terms of caucus support, Michael Ignatieff is gauranteed to retain a plurality of support, no matter what happens with the rest of the MPs.

By my count, nationally, Ignatieff has 38 MPs. His closest opponent, Gerard Kennedy, currently has 14 MPs. Even if Gerard were able to attract every remaining MP--including all of the ones who have declared themselves neutral--he would still be below Michael.

The exact same scenario is occuring in the West, where Ignatieff holds a commanding lead, and in the East, where Ignatieff has nearly three times the MPs that his next closest opponent, Scott Brison, has.

In Ontario and Quebec, Ignatieff is not quite in this position. If Kennedy received the support of every remaining undeclared caucus member in Ontario save one, he would swoop in front of Ignatieff. In Quebec, Dion needs every remaining caucus member. But, Ignatieff only needs a few more MPs (2 and 1 respectively) to reach this same position of a gauranteed plurality. And, once all the neutral MPs are included, Ignatieff easily has gauranteed pluralities in all regions of the country.

While this may not attract any media attention, this is a symbolic victory, as it makes absolutely certain that Ignatieff is the candidate who has the largest support among the caucus right through to the convention. Other candidates may be able to rally additional MPs to their side, but Ignatieff will, at least in terms of caucus support, always retain the front runner position.

Moreoever, Ignatieff is the only candidate with a truly nationally representative caucus. While Kennedy may be putting up a good fight in Ontario, he only has 1 MP from each of the West, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. Similarly, Dion's Quebec support is strong, and he has a noticeable portion of the Ontario caucus, but in the West and the East he has no caucus support.

Now, I admit that, once again, this is simply an analytical game. It involes creating an excel sheet and manipulating certain numbers, and there is no certainty that these numbers will link up with anything. MPs are often able to deliver a substantial number of delegates in their riding, campaign nationally for a candidate, and show a broad base of support, but there are a great many more factors which are relevant.

After all, Bob Rae has picked up two former leadership contenders, and that bodes well for him. He also has the strongest fundraising machine, and his ex officio support is second only to Ignatieff's. For those Liberals who don't mind that he got his party membership half a year ago, he could indeed be the focal point of a movement for those opposed to Ignatieff.

But, despite all that, we shouldn't downplay caucus support. Come convention time, MPs are going to be extremely influential on the floor, and the significant caucus support that Ignatieff enjoys might mitigate the effects of a few additional candidates supporting Rae after they drop off.

But, like I've said before, it's still anybody's race--except for maybe Volpe or Fry's...


Blogger Anonymous Liberal said...

For anyone who's interested, with a few new recent endorsements and other updates, Ignatieff now has the same number of caucus members supporting him as do the next five candidates combined (i.e. Kennedy, Dion, Rae, Volpe, and Dryden).

8:27 PM  

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