Thursday, August 17, 2006

Orchard versus Bevilacqua

This week saw two relatively important endorsements in the Liberal leadership race. To recap, Bob Rae received the endorsement of leadership candidate failure but long-term MP Maurizio Bevilacqua. Stephane Dion received the endorsement of David Orchard, who failed in his one attempt at becoming an MP but, given his starting position, did pretty well in both leadership races in which he ran. So, who is the winner among Rae and Dion? Dion.

Let's set aside lack of ideological congruity between either of the pairs (do you really believe Bob Rae is going to listen to Maurizio on the economy, or Dion to Bevilacqua on same-sex marriage?). The question comes down to organization, with both campaigns claiming that the endorsment will help in Saskatchewan. According to Diebel, Bevilacqua signed up about 200 people in Saskatchewan. Rae signed up 500 (and he was already in first). So they have about 700 members combined.

Dion was non-existant in the province. And while it's not known how many people Orchard signed up, he must have signed up enough to be courted as he was.

So, Rae is still in the lead, but Dion is now in the game, at least. Moreover, Orchard's people are much more likely to follow his lead than Bevilacqua's and probably more likely to turn out. Finally, if one assumes that the majority of the new members which Bevilacqua brought in were urban, then the real advantage goes to Dion who is likely to now have a campaign which is competitive in five or six rural ridings. In short, Dion got the better pick up.

As for the rest of the country, I remain, along with many, entirely uncovinced Maurizio had anything going on. If he cannot convince his two caucus supporters to follow his lead, how can he expect the few members he signed up to do the same?

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