Just like the racing experts who produce a morning line for the day’s racing card, a morning line for a political race requires considerable experience. And nobody would be so foolish as to try to create one without knowing and studying the performance of the horses in the race. That is why we are a long way from producing a morning line for the upcoming Conservative Party of Canada and New Democratic Party leadership contests.
By March of 2017, a line on the Conservative race is likely. Mind you if the contestants were only from the eleven possible candidates we discussed recently, we could probably give you a fairly accurate reading now. What cannot be foreseen though is the foul at the three-quarter pole, the contestant who drops out from illness or injury or the unexpected case of doping.
That was one of the reasons that Babel-on-the-Bay did not produce a morning line on the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership contest in May, 2015. We knew the contestants too well. And we had no trust in Patrick Brown. We expected chicanery and we had a pretty good idea of what Brown was up to in the race. We knew he would get lots of sign-ups from the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities but we had no idea how deep his supporters’ pockets were. His $400,000 worth of sign-ups were lined up by paid organizers from those communities and probably cost him well over a million dollars. The paid organizers’ attitude at their parties for immigrants that payment of the $10 party membership fee was optional said it all.
In typical Conservative fashion, the federal Conservatives closed the barn door on the Brown tactics in their upcoming race. They have raised the membership fee to $25 to block that method. It is also quite unlikely that anyone could swamp the party membership with ethnic sign-ups on a national scale.
But there are other things to watch for in this Conservative race and in the NDP leadership to follow. Leadership candidates in both parties in 2017 will be far more cognizant of the possible weaknesses in Justin Trudeau’s leadership style by that time. The question each candidate has to answer is how best to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities offered. It is the credibility of their answers that will sway the party voters.
What the morning line cannot forecast though is the behind the scenes manoeuvering that is part of any political race. You have to make your guesses based on what you can see.
Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry
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