Thursday, April 27, 2017

CPC Leadership - Strategic Thoughts

This is part of my larger series on the CPC leadership.

I had a big long post planned here - analyzing voter transition matrices, running Monte Carlo simulations, the works - but yesterday's news scotched that.

We all know that Bernier will win now. I mean, it's still possible for Scheer or O'Toole to come up the middle, but we're looking at maybe a 10% chance now. Analyzing who will win has thus gotten a lot less interesting. Instead, this will be a grab-bag post.

1) Leitch is off my ballot. She was a strategic move to block O'Leary, not a conviction vote, and I have no need for such any more. I don't think I'll be replacing her - Blaney was next on my list, and I'm not sure I'd still vote Conservative if he won. It won't make any conceivable difference, but I wouldn't feel good voting for him as leader.

2) O'Leary's decision confuses me a bit. He says he dropped out because he couldn't win the general election, but apparently the moment of truth for him was membership numbers - he saw 60,000 more members than expected and assumed he'd have a tough time winning. I think he's being a bit blustery about his chances. That said, if we take him at face value, his weakness in Quebec is not news. I've been saying it for a year, and while I can forgive him for not listening to my advice, it's been the general opinion of the punditosphere as well. Dropping out because you can't win the general makes sense, but the time to do that was before launching.

I don't think O'Leary really took this job seriously. He didn't understand that party leader is a grossly thankless position of working 80 hours a week in the church basement circuit until you win, he didn't understand that a Prime Minister is not a dictator, and he didn't give his opponents enough respect if he's surprised by a membership of a quarter million. O'Leary spent a year running for the leadership quite openly before he declared, and he lined up a lot of support, but he didn't really lay the proper groundwork that someone with his wealth and connections should have been able to lay.

I mean, seriously, he doesn't actually need to work for a living. If he wanted the job, he should have dropped out of some of his other responsibilities and spent the year learning French in secret. A man of his intelligence and resources can do it if he wants to. Then pop into the race a day before the French debate instead of the day after(or maybe a bilingual debate, to preserve some surprise), and blow everyone away who was ragging on you for not being able to win Quebec. He'd have wrong-footed everybody, proven himself to be an utterly serious contender, and instantly upped his support by like 5% by extending such a clear olive branch to Quebec. He could have done it, and he'd have won the race, and probably the keys to 24 Sussex, if he had. Given that he wasn't willing to put in the work, I'm glad he's out, but alternate universe O'Leary who actually looked into the job and gave it thought before he ran would have been a hell of a lot more interesting as a candidate.

3) The ballots have already been printed, and O'Leary's name is on them - some people actually started getting theirs in the mail yesterday. That means he's going to get votes, and probably a decent number of them between the anti-Bernier protest voters and the people who live under rocks. My bet is he finishes about 6th on the first ballot. Despite being out.

4) Almost every Conservative leadership race in my lifetime has lost a candidate to the Liberals after it finished. Seriously, we've had almost as many defections as races.

2004 CPC: Stronach
2003 PC: Brison and Orchard
2002 CA: Nil.
2000 CA: Martin
1998 PC: Orchard again
1993 PC: Turner, though it took a while

Obvious candidates for that questionable honour this time are Chong and possibly Raitt, as the reddest Tories running, but part of me thinks it'll be someone out of left field, like Lemieux or Blaney. After all, most of those defections have been social liberals jumping over social policy(I've heard from one of his staffers that Brison was basically gay-bashed out of the party, to our shame), so maybe it'll be someone jumping over disagreement with a different policy, like Bernier's social liberalism or hard-nosed fiscal policy.

5) My preferred candidate will probably win. I think this may be the first time in my life that's happened in a leadership race where I live(I've supported folks like Danielle Smith and John McCain and seen them win, but never in Ontario or Canada-level races). This is trippy, but I can get used to it.

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