I pride myself on having made some pretty accurate predictions in the 2006 Progressive Conservative Party leadership contest and so on this, the eve of the first ballot of the 2011 edition I feel it is necessary to register my thoughts.
Environics has provided a little bit of help for prognosticators, but I don’t put a ton of weight into their polling results. Nearly 100,000 people voted in the first ballot in 2006 and the Environics poll was based on a membership list of 22,000 members. The origins of the list is under investigation, but I suspect it came from one of the campaigns. This is important because it may mean that campaigns that turned in their lists prior to the poll being conducted would be overrepresented while campaigns that didn’t want to release their lists to the other candidates would be underrepresented. Similarly, a large number of voters will be registered at the polls.
With that in mind, I think the two front-runners have been clear and consistent all the way along and they are Gary Mar and Ted Morton. Similarly, both Rick Orman and Doug Griffiths faced uphill battles and will be a long way off from making the cut of top three for the second ballot. The only real questions remaining for me are who will be number three and how far ahead will Gary Mar be?
This is where I will take guidance from Environics. Alison Redford’s support in that poll is well ahead of where I thought she would be. She is also perceived as a bit of a game changer and has been pretty much at the center of any of the big news-worthy controversial issues in the campaign. She also has a cracking campaign manager in Stephen Carter. Doug Horner has run a strong campaign, but in a contest that was initiated on desire for change, I worry he will be perceived too strongly as the status quo candidate.
So here is my predicted order of candidate placements on the first ballot. And heck, just for fun, I will put some numbers in for possible results.
1. Gary Mar (30-35%)
2. Ted Morton (25-30%)
3. Alison Redford (15-20%)
4. Doug Horner (10-15%)
5. Doug Griffiths (around 5%)
6. Rick Orman (around 5%)
Of course, endorsements should be interesting and will have a big impact on how the second ballot turns out – as will, the ability of any of the campaigns to sell memberships and get votes out on October 1.