All right, this is going to be the first of what will no doubt be many breakdowns on ES this week of the vote and leadership race to this point. I'll try and keep this one related strictly to numbers. I'll break down each candidate's results, examine the reasons why things worked out that way, and, except for the 3 finalists, examine who the vanquished candidates might be supporting in the final ballot. Those "Most likely to support" tags are based on POLICY, not on back-room politics, so they could prove VERY wrong.
First, the party has to be pretty happy with the voter turn-out. Despite the frigid temperatures, almost 100,000 party members came out to vote. An interesting statistic, which of course we'll never know, would be this: How many of those 97,690 who voted were party members 12 months ago? I would suspect that many of the 41,615 party members who voted for candidates who will NOT be on the next ballot may stay home next week, regardless of whether or not their candidate throws his support behind one of the top 3. New membership sales from newly desperate campaigns, and expected temperatures near -5 Celcius will probably mean that we'll be close to 100,000 voters again, though.
Now, then, on to the candidates themselves.
Jim Dinning - 29,470 (30.2%)
This has to be a blow for the Dinning campaign... although spokespeople indicated that Jim would consider 30% of the vote a minor victory, it has to be a VERY minor victory considering the time and money that has gone into this campaign, to have a lead of less than 4%. Clearly, Team Dinning planned for this outcome, though, as Jim immediately (finally!) went on the offensive after the tally, in preparation for next Saturday's final ballot.
Ted Morton - 25,614 (26.2%)
Ted's push in the last week in the media certainly helped him, and he's within striking distance of first. Barring a Dinning endorsement from Lyle Oberg (never say never, but unlikely), Morton could benefit from the "Anyone But Dinning" sentiment and the "Anyone but Calgary" sentiment - despite the fact that he represents a riding adjacent to Calgary. Membership sales drives are to be expected from Morton's camp in the next few days, as some in his campaign feel they've got as much support from traditional PC members as they're likely to get.
Ed Stelmach - 14,967 (15.3%)
Ed's numbers, and the endorsement from Dave Hancock, are great achievements for this campaign. If Hancock can deliver even 6,000 votes to Stelmach, then Ed is closer to Ted Morton than Morton is to Dinning. With other endorsements up in the air (Oberg is possible, despite policy differences), anything can happen. But Stelmach is in a great position to benefit from voters who want to keep Morton out, but can't bring themselves to "Go to the Jim". The concern here is potential vote-splitting of the moderate, progressive party faithful - if Dinning and Stelmach split that vote, Morton and his membership sales might sail right up through the middle and all the way to the Premier's Office.
Lyle Oberg - 11,638 (11.9%)
Lyle took his best shot, and although he won't be the next Premier of Alberta, he MAY have stumbled into the position of Kingmaker. I'll be surprised to see Lyle come out to support any of the top 3 right away - he may wait as late as Wednesday or Thursday, to see what sort of commitments he can squeeze out of them. Lyle has major differences with all 3 contenders, though: He accused Dinning of impropriety earlier in the campaign; he supports some privatization of health care, unlike both Dinning and Stelmach; and he is a staunch defender of personal freedoms, which puts him in conflict with Ted Morton, especially on Same-Sex Marriage. Which of these 3 problems bothers Lyle the least remains to be seen, but expect him to be offered a notable seat at the cabinet table if he does crown the next Premier.
Most likely to support: Unknown
Dave Hancock - 7,595 (7.8%)
This has to be disappointing for the Hancock campaign. Dave isn't dwelling on it too much, though, deciding early on in the tallying that he was going to support Ed Stelmach's bid for Leader. Hancock had a great platform, and I can only hope that some of his policies get enshrined by the new Leader. Later this week, I'm going to post the "best policy ideas from the losers" of this leadership campaign, and I get a feeling there are going to be a lot of solid policy ideas from the Dave Hancock camp.
Most likely to support: Stelmach (declared)
Mark Norris - 6,789 (6.9%)
Mark's people are probably beside themselves at this poor showing. Even as the votes were being tallied, he had no doubt whatsoever he'd finish in the top 3. Norris' face was plastered all over billboards, I've been getting what seems like 2 or 3 emails a day from his campaign... not even Edmonton delivered the kind of numbers Mark was hoping for. I think, in the final analysis, what killed Mark was is lack of identifiable policies. If you asked the average party members who stood for what, most couldn't tell you what Norris stood for. In a lot of cases, Mark didn't tell us, either. As I observed earlier in the campaign, Norris is a great communicator. But you need actual policies to communicate to people, or it's all meaningless noise and platitudes.
Most likely to support: Morton
Victor Doerksen - 873 (0.9%)
The only surprise here is that Victor beat someone... his polices were too narrowly focused to appeal to a broad range of party membership, and although some of them should definitely find their way into the public sphere again, a leadership race for the Progressive Conservative Party just wasn't the time to bring those ideas forward, when more fundamental issues were being debated. Victor also suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, as he couldn't attract the social conservative vote with the Morton juggernaught drawing those votes to Team Ted.
Most likely to support: Morton
Gary McPherson - 744 (0.8%)
This is disappointing for me, personally. In a lot of ways, Gary brought some of the best ideas to this leadership race. Much of his policy, especially in the area of health, is fantastic and should be seriously considered. I hope that the eventual winner doesn't take Gary's poor showing here as indicative of the quality of his policy ideas, because that would be fool-hardy. In a race without the "boogy-man" factor driving people to support a major candidate to stop another one from winning (not mentioning any names), Gary might have done quite a bit better. Again, someone whose policy is going to play a prominent role in my mid-week "best policy ideas from the losers" post.
Most likely to support: Unknown