Paul Dewar: I’m second best!

One of the many privileges of being a card-carrying member of the NDP is receiving spamnews from each of the leadership candidates, and today’s missive from Paul Dewar contained one of my favourite things – polling data! The numbers are up on his site too, but the email had slightly more detail: 31.0% of the 6373 respondants state that they are undecided. They also drop a few hints at the regional breakdown of these numbers:

Our regional research does show that Thomas Mulcair leads handily in Quebec with over 50% of the vote. This is what provides Mulcair with his national lead. Brian Topp runs fourth in Quebec. Nathan Cullen runs first in BC and Brian Topp runs third. In Ontario, Peggy Nash runs first and Paul Dewar and Thomas Mulcair are statistically tied for second. Brian Topp runs a distant fourth.

Interestingly, Brian Topp keeps getting mentioned as being tied with Thomas Mulcair, but apparently that’s not the case, according to Dewar’s data on the first choice of decided voters, weighted by NDP membership numbers by province:

Thomas Mulcair25.5%
Peggy Nash16.8%
Paul Dewar15.1%
Nathan Cullen12.8%
Brian Topp12.7%
Niki Ashton9.5%
Martin Singh4.1%
Romeo Saganash (since withdrawn)3.6%

It looks like Mulcair, Nash, Dewar, and Cullen are all doing well in large part because of support from their home province. But with over the frontrunner enjoying just a 9% lead and 31% of the voters undecided, barring a serious shift, this is unlikely to be decided on the first ballot. Dewar also asked people about their second choice, but without information on the first choice of those respondants this is more or less meaningless: if no candidate takes 50% of the vote in the first round, the last-place candidate will be dropped and the election held again using the second preference of those who had supported that candidate. Clearly, the second choice of voters supporting the trailing candidates is far more relevant than the second choice of someone supporting one of the leaders. This notwithstanding, Dewar was the leading second choice of respondants, which his campaign spun as being meaningful since so far this is looking like a vote which will go to at least two rounds. But just whose second choice are you, Dewar? That same email explained away Dewar’s lack of ease in French by claiming that his listening skills were stronger than his ability to express himself. Great. And how exactly will this help you win enough debates to retain your 59 seats in Quebec? I’ve seen Dewar speak in French in person a few times now, and with all due respect to his work as Foreign Affairs critic, his lack of fluency would have ruled him out for me as a contender even when the NDP had all of one seat in French-majority ridings.

So, who would I support? The other candidates all spoke French at least well enough for it not to be a barrier to their prospects, in my personal opinion. They also spent most of their time at the one debate I’ve attended so far quoting from the NDP’s 2011 platform (in other words, violently agreeing with each other). Absent serious disagreements on policy, this leaves me looking more for charisma, and, dare I say, electability. So far the candidates I’m most interested in are Nathan Cullen, Niki Ashton, and Brian Topp, in something resembling that order. But who knows, perhaps they’ll find something to disagree about in the next month and I’ll get to re-evaluate.

PSA: You probably already know this if you’ve actually read this far, but you have until February 18th to become a member of the NDP if you want to vote in this election.