Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Grit Leadership Thoughts

When I noticed that Matthew Shugart is telling the world that I am following the Liberal leadership race, I thought I had better comment on last weekend's results.

Generally, the conventional wisdom seems about right to me on the horse race aspects. It was inevitable that the race would shrink to 3 or 4. The anti-Ignatieff vote has not coalesced around a single figure, which is probably good for Ignatieff, although since leadership campaigns are not first-past-the-post, and since Ignatieff is easily the most polarizing of the 4 major candidates, he could quite easily lose on the final ballot. The big news is Kennedy's success.

I think the CW read too much into Rae's performance in Ontario, which was only 3% below his national performance, comparable to the difference between Ignatieff's national and Ontario performance, and explicable in terms of Kennedy's relatively better machine there. Still, Rae needs to figure a way to say he isn't the guy he was in 1990.

If he wins, Kennedy would be a total disaster for the Liberals. Harper would eat him for lunch. The other three all have weaknesses, but they would be very credible opponents.

An annoying thing about the commentary is the claim that the "big hitters" (apparently McKenna and Manley) are sitting this out. There is no reason to think either would be more successful Liberal leaders than the 4 in the running now. Actually, the Liberals have a very respectable slate of candidates, which isn't that surprising since Liberal leader is still the open job most likely to make you Prime Minister someday.

There is no doubt that these results make my prediction of a Rae victory a bit braver. Ignatieff will probably win. That will give the NDP yet another reprieve from the inevitable death the first-past-the-post system has been preparing for it since the 80s.

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