Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Tough Decision

So, I decided not to vote in the first ballot of the PC Leadership election, but I can still choose to vote on December 2nd. What to do?

I know for sure that I do not want Ted Morton to run this province. I was pretty scared of the leadership of Ralph Klein in 1992 (although I eventually did cut my hair, right Pikey), yet the prospects of Premier Morton scare me even more. I don't know whether I would prefer a Dinning or Stelmach win as both have their upsides. Even still, I would have to hold my nose as they both a significant amount of downsides. I think I will spend some time researching the candidates and come to a conclusion by the end of the week, although the fear of a Morton win is a great motivator.

The other thing that I think needs to be said about Morton, involves his future in Dinning's Alberta. Can you possibly see Ted Morton as a minister in Dinning's cabinet? I didn't think so. So what is to be made of Dr. Ted after he realizes he has a large ground swelling of support after a Dinning win?

I don't think it is a far stretch to think that he would jump ship to the Alberta Alliance, after all many of his 26,000 votes last weekend came from Alliance members. So consider for a moment, Dinning wins the election and Morton crosses the floor to the Alliance. With him he brings a large number of dissidents who for a long time have bit their tongue and supported Klein in the Progressive Conservative Party. Suddenly, we have a 'credible' and popular leader for the Alliance party - might make for an interesting election in the spring of 2008. A weakened PC Party with a new controversial leader, a strengthened Alliance party with a new controversial leader, and perhaps a credible Liberal party with some relative strength. Rural ridings would fluctuate between PC and Alliance, Calgary would go mostly Conservative, and Edmonton would likely go mostly Liberal (with the incumbent ND's likely holding their seats) with a split right wing.

The scene in Alberta would change with a small majority PC government, and their security in question. The exact makeup would be dependent on the number of dissidents Morton could pull over with him. We may just be on the verge of the collapse of the PC stranglehold on this province. Unfortunately for us, when Alberta switches allegiances, it often switch to the right.

But perhaps, I'm getting ahead of myself and I need to look into the candidates in the election before us.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

November 26, 2006 - The Aftermath!

Hey there, how's it going? What's new? Good to hear. It's been so long since we've spoken. I'm such a bad friend.

Well, It's November 26, 2006 and we now know a little more where Alberta Progressive Conservatives and tens of thousands of other Albertans stand on who they want to be the next premier of this province.

In case you haven't heard, here are the results:
Jim Dinning 29,470
Ted Morton 25,614
Ed Stelmach 14,967
Lyle Oberg 11,638
Dave Hancock 7,595
Mark Norris 6,789
Victor Doerksen 873
Gary McPherson 744

Surprised? I'm not overly surprised, but there are surprises within the results. Ted Morton receives about 26% support. His second place finish is not a complete surprise, but to be under 4000 (4%) votes behind "sure thing" Dinning is a bit of a surprise. Morton is a wildcard and extreme in his views. He will have a tough time adding votes to his total, as most of his supporters are likely to be included in the 25,614; whereas, there is room in the Dinning and Stelmach umbrella to attract more voters - from the bottom five camp, and from the tens of thousands who will vote on December 2nd only.

Similarly surprising, maybe mostly to Lyle only, is that Oberg only garnered 12% of voter support. He likely shot himself in the foot throughout the campaign and conservatives smartly concluded that this wacko can't run our province.

So given the Oberg slide, and the lack of credibility from other candidates, am I surprised that Stelmach is firmly entrenched for the second ballot? Well, somewhat. I guess someone has to take that place, but I thought we would be more likely to see a Hancock, Norris, or Oberg to sit in with a distant third place.

The numbers look promising for Stelmach. He is over 10,000 votes away from Morton, but having Morton holding such strength, almost guarantess a third ballot. Dinning needs at least 25,000 more votes to gain a majority, Morton will need around 30,000. I don't see either of these camps, gaining those numbers for the second ballot. So, all Stelmach needs to do is place in second on that ballot.

There are three reasons Ed Stelmach will finish second on the second ballot:
1. The Morton Problem
2. The Anti-Dinning Factor
3. Momentum

The Morton problem. Ted Morton is an extremist. As an extremist, he has a large, solid, and vocal support group. He gained support from the Alberta Alliance and social conservatives - people who were motivated to see a change to what they saw as the immoral, chicken-shit, tax-and-spend leftist Tories under Klein. Very few of his supporters chose not to vote, or stayed home in the cold. He is not a big tent politician and his numbers are unlikely to grow significantly.

The Anti-Dinning Factor. It seems many of the politically astute in this province either love Dinning or hate him. There is a significant camp of people who really do not want Jim to run the province. Most of them also do not see Morton as a camp to pop their tent in - their only choice left is Ed Stelmach. This is why Lyle Oberg has gotten behind Steady Eddy, and that brings us to...

Momentum. Already, finishers four and five have thrown their support behind Stelmach (bringing potentially 15,000 plus voters with them). Victim number six is expected to throw his support Ed's way early in the week. Non-voters (too cold, or didn't care enough) are also likely to see Ed as a good compromise candidate. There was a little bit of a surprise with his finish, and everyone loves an underdog. For all these reasons, Ed has momentum on his side.

So here is the Stelmach plan; convince voters that he has a shot at the final two. Keep people from voting for Dinning because they are scared of Morton. Show yourself as the reliable, responsible, reasonable conservative - separate from the leftist old-school Dinning, and the extremist scary Morton. Finish second on the second ballot.

When everyone votes on the second ballot, the Dinning supporters will put Stelmach down as 2nd choice because he's not Morton, and Morton supporters will put Stelmach down as two because he's not Dinning. Waltz with the rejected to the finish line!

His only major challenge is to keep Morton's support strong enough to force a second ballot, but not so strong that Ted finishes second. Keep the left from flocking to Dinning because they are so scared of Morton. Do this Eddy and you have a real chance of winning.