Friday, February 24, 2012

NDP leadership and membership

The final membership numbers are in for the NDP leadership race and I am really surprised at how few people elected to join the NDP in this race.   Here is some quick analysis of the party membership and at the end is my current estimate of first ballot support for the candidates.

The NDP membership has only gone from about 80,000 to 128,351 over the campaign.    I am really surprised that the membership did not rise to 200,000 - 250,000.

  • Prov    Members    %   per riding  new since Oct
  • BC       38,735  30.18%   1076       8,735
  • Ontario  36,760  28.64%    347      14,535
  • Quebec   12,266   9.56%    164      10,571
  • Manitoba 12,056   9.39%    861       1,758
  • Sask     11,264   8.78%    805       2,335
  • Alberta  10,249   7.99%    366       1,216
  • NS        3,844   2.99%    350       2,544
  • Nfld      1,030   0.80%    147         830
  • NB          955   0.74%     96         ??? 
  • Territories 924   0.72%    308         ???
  • PEI         268   0.21%     67         133
  • Total   128,351            417      44,527         

I am getting my data from Pundits Guide, there is some more breakdown and analysis of the membership and where it grew and where it did not.

Overall the party added 76% of the new members in BC (19.6%), Ontario(32.6%) and Quebec (23.7%), but only BC added more members than its proportion of the national population, Ontario lagged behind.

The NDP remains the strongest in BC by any measure though it has lost some of its dominance from the start of the race, it has represented about 36% of the members at the start of the race.   Ultimately if the NDP is to be a serious national party, it has to have strength outside of the west.   The four western provinces were 69.5% of the membership in October.

The provinces with the highest average number of members per riding are the provinces where the NDP has either been the government or opposition for the last couple of generations.   The four western provinces represent 56.33% of the members of the NDP but only 31.3% of the population of the country.   To win this race, you still need to win the west.

I am surprised the membership in Manitoba grew so little, only Alberta did worse in terms of percentage growth.   With Paul Dewar and Niki Ashton strongly active in Manitoba how come less than 2000 people signed up to be members of the NDP?  How strong can their campaigns be if they can not seem to gain many members in Manitoba?  The NDP managed to get 126 new members per riding.

The growth of the party in Quebec is very important to the NDP, but the members signed up is not nearly as impressive as I thought it would.   I would have thought the very low starting point would have made it easy to sign up something more like 20,000 or 30,000 members.   This says to me the campaign machine of Thomas Mulcair is weaker than expected.   In Quebec the party averaged 141 new members per riding, which is sort of average of the pack

BC is in an odd situation because of the provincial leadership race last year.   The party membership was already higher than it would have normally been and therefore the scope to sign up new members would have been harder.   BC still did well in signing up new members and averaged more new members per riding that any other province in the country with 243.   It says to me that there is some form of active campaign out there to sign up new members.   Given that much of the core Dix and Horgan campaigns are backing Brian Topp, I think he may do well in the vote in BC and is likely responsible for the majority of the new BC members.

Nova Scotia had the second highest average increase per riding with 231 new members.   I think most of these new members are due to Robert Chisholm.   I highly doubt any significant number are due to Martin Singh.

Saskatchewan gained 167 new members per riding, which given the very demoralized state of the NDP in that province, is a good result, the 3rd highest in the country.   Anything I can see to do with Saskatchewan indicates Brian Topp has strength here.  

Ontario averaged only 137 new members per riding.   Given that two of the leadership candidates are from Ontario and that I had heard Thomas Mulcair had a push on in Ontario, I am surprised the new member numbers are not higher.   I am surprised at how few current and former Ontario MPs or MPPs are backing Peggy Nash or Paul Dewar.   I see little evidence of any campaign doing well in Ontario.

An assumption I am making is that of the 128,351 members of the party, the 44,527 new members are most likely to vote.   I am guessing 90% of the new members will vote and only about 60% of the old members.  This seems to be roughly be the pattern in  one member, one vote leadership races.   It is also my experience in riding nomination races.     This means I am assuming about 90,000 NDP members will vote - a 70% turn out.

So with a few more data points to work with, here is my current estimate of first ballot support

  1. Brian Topp     31.0%
  2. Thomas Mulcair 23.0%
  3. Peggy Nash     16.0%
  4. Paul Dewar     13.0%
  5. Nathan Cullen  10.5%
  6. Niki Ashton     6.0%
  7. Martin Singh    0.5%

I have no idea how the second ballot support will flow and it is crucial because no one is close enough to winning it all.  What seems most likely to me is that the Nathan Cullen supporters will break more towards Mulcair than anyone else.  I do not see enough second preferences going over to Peggy Nash to allow her to catch Thomas Mulcair.
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