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Archive for February 2012

With just hours until polls close, Michigan is down to the wire. Late-breaking polling evidence points to a last minute comeback by Rick Santorum, who now seems neck and neck with Mitt Romney.

The final polls by Mitchell/Rosetta, PPP and Rasmussen show a lead for Mr Romney of  +1, -1 and +2 respectively.

This is a much improved situation for Mr Santorum than was the case just a few days ago, where most polls had Mr Romney with a modest but clear single digit lead in the state.

I believe Michigan is just too close to call. I wouldn’t put money on it, but my gut says Mr Santorum – who has consistently over-performed the polls – will eke it out, although it may well be a long night.

2.30am update: Well, the race has just been called for Romney, so my gut was wrong about that one! Romney also won a blow-out victory in Arizona. He’s now positioned strongly with a week to go to Super Tuesday. But in a race that’s seen so many twists and turns, he’ll surely not be counting any chickens just yet. Read the rest of this entry »

There is now just over a month to go until the NDP leadership vote on 24 March and the first polling numbers have come to light – two polls, conducted separately on behalf of the Paul Dewar and Thomas Mulcair campaigns. The Dewar poll was conducted by IVR, and surveyed 6373 NDP members across Canada. It is unclear who conducted the poll on behalf of the Mulcair campaign, which surveyed 1105 party members.

Any poll released by a candidate’s campaign should, in general, be treated with caution and a degree of scepticism. Campaigns tend to release numbers that are favourable, and sit on numbers that aren’t. That said, here we have two polls, conducted independently of each other, which have fairly consistent results – both place Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair in first place, with a second tier of candidates competing in the mid-teens, and with the others in single digits:

While Mr Mulcair holds a reasonable lead in both polls, he is still well short of the 50% needed to win. The result will hinge on the 2nd (and lower) choices of supporters of defeated candidates – and here the picture gets a lot muddier, with much potentially depending on which of the lower tier candidates gets knocked out first.

Mr Mulcair’s campaign is also hindered by the historical weakness of the NDP in his home province of Québec. Membership figures released last September showed the NDP with just 1,695 members in the province – just 2% of the total NDP membership in a province which has 23.9% of Canada’s population, and 57.3% of NDP MPs.

The Mulcair campaign set out to rectify this, setting an ambitious target of reaching 20,000 members in the province. Media reports suggest that while the figure of 20,000 won’t be reached, the party is still aiming for 10,000 members. Although this would still leave Quebec under-represented in the leadership race it would mean the Quebec NDP membership has, rather impressively, more than quintupled in recent months.

Looking at the bigger picture however, even the most enthusiastic NDP partisan would need to admit that this leadership race has so far fallen well short of seizing the imagination of the Canadian public. With over a month to go that verdict may prove premature – but NDP strategists must be worrying that this race will turn out to be a missed opportunity for a party which needs all the engagement with voters it can get if it is to solidify it’s new-found role as official opposition.

Would a more open primary-style system succeed in better engaging Canadian voters and NDP supporters? Eric Grenier has a fantastic account in the Globe and Mail in which he imagines how a province-by-province primary contest involving all NDP supporters might pan out – in a nutshell, it sure sounds a lot more exciting than what the NDP have right now.

Eric’s article may be a work of fiction, but it’s not difficult to see how such a contest could succeed in engaging Canadians from coast to coast to coast in choosing a leader to challenge Stephen Harper at the next election – perhaps something for the Liberals to chew on as they approach their own leadership contest?

Yesterday was the first multi-state contest in the GOP nomination race, with caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, and a non-binding primary in Missouri.

It was a great night for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Mr Santorum swept all three states, winning Missouri and Minnesota by handsome double-digit margins, and even beating Mitt Romney by over 5 points in Colorado, a state where Mr Romney was the clear favourite.

GOP voters in all three states fired a clear shot across the bows of their party establishment. Last night’s results will also ensure a ‘think twice’ moment among observers who, following Mr Romney’s wins in Florida and Nevada, were increasingly regarding Mr Romney as the presumptive GOP nominee.

Maine is expected to declare the results of its week-long primary at the weekend, after which the next contests are in Arizona and Michigan, each of which have primaries on 28 February. They’ll be followed on 3 March by caucuses in the state of Washington and, on 6 March, by Super Tuesday, which sees ten states voting in primaries or caucuses – Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

In a race in which the momentum factor has so far proved rather ephemeral, Mr Santorum’s campaign will be looking to translate last night’s results into a more solid bounce going into Super Tuesday. In particular, he’ll be looking to consolidate conservatives, and the broader ‘non-Romney’ GOP vote, behind his candidacy.

Last night’s results are, so far, a challenge not a crisis for Mr Romney’s campaign – but Mr Santorum has now won his chance to shift the narrative and, potentially, the trajectory of this intriguing GOP nomination contest.



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