daveberta’s thoughts on the Alberta PC leadership race: first-ballot day edition.

I had hoped to get this post out yesterday, but in honour of my sitting in a warm room sipping hot coffee and reading the New York Times online as Tories across the province are out in the cold shuttling their members to the Alberta PC leadership polls, here are my thoughts on the race for the leader of the Alberta PC Party on selection day…

1) The weather outside is frightful. The weather should play a huge role in the turnout. It is cold in Edmonton with a wind-chill and similar weather across Alberta.

2) The weather factor should affect the committed v. Tory-come-lately member voter turnouts across Alberta. As I mentioned before, I believe this will play a substantial role between the candidates and their type of supporters. As I’ve stated before, I believe Ted Morton‘s supporters are more committed to show up to the polls than Jim Dinning supporters. That said, Jim Dinning’s supporters may simply just overwhelm those of the other candidates due to sheer numbers.

3) Organization or lack thereof. There were some huge problems with the advanced polls this week leaving candidates like Dave Hancock waiting in line for hours. Gary McPherson blamed Alberta PC Party organizers. Others blamed it on candidate Lyle Oberg‘s busing in hundreds of folks from Edmonton’s ethnic communities. There has already been complaints about lack of organization and unethical acts by various leadership camps during today’s selection vote.

4) Turnout. Because there are no rules regarding when anyone can by a Alberta PC membership and vote (well, you can just show up and pay $5 to vote at the polling station), it is hard to say how many members will actually show up and vote. Though at the beginning of this race Jim Dinning, Ted Morton, and Mark Norris all declared that they would sell around 100,000 memberships, I’d be surprised if there were more than 80,000 people who showed up to vote on the first ballot.

5) Rural v. Urban. This may play a huge role in who gets their support out. I think it’s safe to say that Lyle Oberg, Ed Stelmach, and Ted Morton are drawing a large amount of their support from rural Alberta. Turnout from these supporters will largely depend on road and snow conditions out in the country. Urban voters may have an easier time with shorter distances to travel and municipally plowed roads.

Rural Albertans played a huge role in Ralph Klein’s 1992 PC leadership victory over Nancy Betkowski, so it should be interesting to see if after Klein’s negative infrastructure cuts to rural communities if rural Albertans are inspired to participate in this internal party leadership selection. Interestingly, Jim Dinning was the Chair of Nancy Betkowski’s 1992 PC leadership campaign.

6) What are Alberta PC members looking for in their new leader? If they are looking for the status quo, they will go with the Jim Dinning gang and his 36 MLA caucus support. If they are looking for someone to shake up the way the Tory Government operates, they should probably vote for someone like Ted Morton. If they are looking for someone to lead a completely dysfunctional Tory Government, they should probably vote for someone like Lyle Oberg…

7) To watch… if no candidate takes it on the first ballot it should be interesting to see who drops out and endorses who… only three candidates may make it to the second ballot set for next weekend. Membership sales are allowed to continue between the two ballots.

How bitter will the candidates and their camps be after the first ballot? The ideological so-con v. red tory and establishment v. non-establishment divide in this race has been evident from the beginning and threatens to tear the Tories apart from the inside. Will the Calgary corporate mafia shut out the reform grassroots base? It should be entertaining to watch.

8) My predictions… In placing my predictions, I must say that as mentioned above, it is extremely difficult to predict due to the lack of rules surrounding membership sales, so here is my best shot for predicting the first ballot in the Alberta PC leadership selection…

Jim Dinning – 39%
Ted Morton – 19%
Lyle Oberg – 14%
Mark Norris – 11%
Ed Stelmach – 10%
Dave Hancock – 6%
Gary McPherson – 1%
Victor Doerksen
– 1%

This said, a Jim Dinning win on the first-ballot would not surprise me a bit.

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