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Last ballot scenarios: Ignatieff the... kingmaker?

I have been pondering Michael Igantieff's leadership bid and his chances at the convention in December, and have a slightly different scenario from the norm to propose: the last ballot will be between Stphane Dion and Bob Rae.

A divisive "anybody but Iggy" movement at the convention must be avoided. Perpetuating years of internal party rifts with a wounding anybody-but campaign is not good for the party, but I fear that such a movement is already present in the race. This polarising effect means that Michael Ignatieff's support is, to me, both very strong and very stable. The people who would support him are already supporting him. Put together with his lack of political experience, he risks not knowing how to pursue the dark side of a convention where horse trading inevitably takes place, most blatantly seen with David Orchard's contract with Peter MacKay to not do what Peter MacKay went ahead and did anyway. The result is that I see very little room for growth for Ignatieff at the convention. If he does not have a strong first ballot showing, his subsequent ballot support may also be weak, giving the momentum to others.

Maurizio Bevilacqua and Carolyn Bennett's moves to the Bob Rae camp strike me two ways. First, they show Bob Rae's purely political know-how. Getting the support of two early drop-outs from the race is a bit of a coup for him, and suffice it to say that neither of them are likely to have done so without some kind of not readily apparent incentive. Second, both candidates likely wanted to support someone who is Not Ignatieff, or they would have supported him.

If I had to guess, I would say that with most of the candidates being from Ontario, most of their support will go to the strongest Ontario candidate. As much as his campaign would like to believe it is the case, I suspect that the strongest Ontario candidate at the convention will not be Gerard Kennedy, but Bob Rae. I don't believe his record as premier will remain a factor when push comes to shove.

As the convention goes through several ballots, I foresee Dion and Rae being the recipients of virtually all the orphaned delegates. At the second to last ballot, Dion, Rae, and Ignatieff will be left with around 1/3 support each, meaning there will be three possibilities for the final ballot: Ignatieff-Rae, Ignatieff-Dion, or Dion-Rae. In the latter case, which would only happen if Ignatieff accumulates absolutely no additional support, he would have to choose between Rae and Dion. In all these cases I see one of Dion or Rae winning. Between either and Ignatieff, the one to leave the ballot of Rae and Dion will support the other, and in the case of Rae-Dion, well, obviously one has to win.

I do not believe Michael Ignatieff has considered the possibility that he could lose this race and I do not have any idea which way he would go on a final ballot if this scenario were to unfold, nor do I think he yet knows himself. The irony of the situation though would be that the person whose campaign was marked by an anybody-but campaign would end up being the kingmaker, selecting the leader for the party Harper (accidentally) called Canada's "next" government in question period today.

Posted at 16:03 on September 19, 2006

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

First question period of the new session | leadership politics | The London Leadership Debate


Angry Liberal writes at Tue Sep 19 18:16:21 2006...

Well, I'm supporting Iggy, but I know this leadership could go a number of ways (involving Kennedy too).

But, I just read on Kyle's Carruthers blog that Rae may have made donations to the NDP in the last election.

I pray it's not true. But if it is then his campaign better watch out. Funding Jack Layton to help bring down a Liberal government is not going to help win you this convention.

If that it true - and if by some small chance this scenarion you propose above occurs - occurs then I hope Iggy supports Dion or Kennedy. Helping defeat Liberal candidates is NOT the way to my heart.


Sandi writes at Tue Sep 19 18:26:07 2006...

Read: Steve Janke and Liberal Life and Times. If true, this really stinks and Rae deserves to lose on principle. I hope Kennedy doesn't let himself be "used" this way. He's young and has a long way to go and this would hurt him.


Jason Cherniak writes at Tue Sep 19 21:13:10 2006...

I think you're right, mostly. I think Ignatieff may have to support Dion even though he has more votes going into the "second-last" ballot.


Bob Job writes at Wed Sep 20 01:50:51 2006...

Who said these words: "I always supported the notion that Quebec . . . is a nation, it is a distinct society, which we need to recognize in our Constitution and I have fought for that," Mr. Rae said. "The genius behind federalism is that we can be both a Quebecker and a Canadian."

WRONG! Bob Rae, at the non-televised debate in Quebec on August 9, 2006. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060810.LIBERALS10/TPStory/?query=Liberal+hopefuls+argue+over+Quebec+Only+120+attend+event+conducted+in+French

Who said these words: the unilateral repatriation of the Constitution without Quebec must be fixed.

Wrong again! Bob Rae, at a campaign stop in Quebec, May 17, 2006. http://www.scottbrison.ca/in-the-media-details_e.php?pid=29&year=2006

Discuss.

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