In an actual general election, endorsements can mean a lot. The average citizen, who isn't all that interested with day-to-day politics, will read the newspaper or turn on the television, see an old politician who they liked and respected coming out in support of a candidate, and say "That's good enough for me... he knows best, never led us wrong before", and they'll go vote for the endorsed candidate.
In a PARTY Leadership race, though, there are 2 types of voters: Voters who follow the day-to-day stuff, and will make up their OWN minds, and voters who were courted by a specific candidate to join the party in the first place. If that candidate continues onto the next ballot, this voter MAY show up to support them again.
But if he's gone, then whatever he promised them (say, a Vietnamese Community Centre, off the top of my head) is also gone, and so is their impetus to go vote on Saturday.
So I don't put too much stock into the endorsements we're hearing in the past few days for Stelmach. It may be a useful weather vein, to show us which way the wind is blowing, but in the "one member, one vote" system the PC's have for selecting a leader, there is just miles and miles of real estate between "I endorse Ed" and "All the people who voted for me are going to come out again on Saturday and vote for Ed".
To my mind, the endorsements aren't NEARLY as important as new membership sales this week. Nobody's endorsing Morton (nor SHOULD they be), but his campaign is hitting every church group and dialing every number on the Alberta Alliance membership list, trying to sell those memberships and get the vote out on Saturday. I don't see that happening, at this point, in the Dinning or Stelmach camps, although an "Anybody But Morton" movement (also referred to as "In favour of modern civilization and aware that the 1940's are long over") could make some hay in this week - problem being, there are 2 candidates to choose from who aren't Morton, and telling people to vote strategically to keep Morton out just isn't going to work - Stelmach people might list Jim as their 2nd choice, but will NEVER jump ship and chose Dinning over Stelmach. Dinning people are somewhat less solid, but they've been hearing of Jim's impending victory for several years now, and it'll be hard in the next few days to convince them it's not going to happen,and park their votes with Stelmach.
So those new, "soft" members (like liberals concerned about Premier Morton) have to choose who to vote for between Ed and Jim, while Ted's supporters have no such choices to make.
A debate on Wednesday, if reports are true, could prove interesting, but again (barring anything explosive happening) I don't see current party members moving from their current positions. Everyone with a membership card either has already chosen which of the 3 to support, or has no intention of ever using their card again, now that the candidate who bribed ERRRRRR made the membership available is out of the race. Tomorrow, I'll try to break down what each campaign has to do to win this thing. If the promised debate goes forward, I'll break it down on Thursday and Friday.