A morning line for the Magnificent Seven.

Developing a morning line at this stage for the Ontario Liberal leadership is tricky. To start with, those not familiar with horse racing, might not be aware that the morning line is the handicapper’s look at a horse’s breeding, training, past performance and prospects in an upcoming race—along with some probable opening odds. Since insiders among Ontario Liberals are betting on this candidate or that, it makes sense to come out with some helpful odds.

Bear in mind that after January 13, insiders will have a partial picture of the field as chosen by 107 electoral districts in Ontario. At that time, party members in each district will have voted for up to 16 delegates and have indicated a first ballot preference. (They have eight choices because they can also vote for “independent” delegates.) The party expects as many as 1500 of these elected delegates to show up at Toronto’s historic Maple Leaf Gardens on January 25 and 26 and pay $250 to $600 for the privilege of attending the voting.

While the results of the party’s choices on January 12 and 13 are supposed to be secret until the first ballot results are announced on January 26, you have to remember that a secret is something known by just one person. The more people who know a secret, the faster it ceases to be a secret.

The further puzzle for the morning line is that there will be about 800 ex officio delegates coming to the meeting and they do not have to make commitments. As these figures include party presidents, previous candidates and sitting members of the Legislature, they carry an inordinate influence on the people from their electoral district. And the bad news is that these people do not make very good choices.

And to the surprise of those outside the party event, the front-runner on the first ballot will not necessarily be the winner. (Dalton McGuinty was fourth on the first ballot at the 1996 convention, that ultimately chose him leader.) There is even a strategy sometimes used in this type of convention where the candidate has 50 to 75 key supporters vote for someone else on the first ballot to assure an appearance of growth when they vote for their candidate on the second ballot. If a candidate does not show growth on subsequent ballots, they quickly fall by the wayside.

Voting on January 26 is quite likely to go to four ballots with the candidate with the least votes dropping off after each ballot. The smart candidate team keeps careful records of their potential second ballot support. All the handicapper can do at this stage is make some educated guesses.

Any suggestions from our Ontario network of readers will be helpful. We will publish the results of our morning line research next week. We will give you one a day for seven days. We will start with the front runner and work our way down to the really bad news. It is going to be fun.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me


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