On Saturday, Maple Leaf Gardens was a cauldron of emotions. There were tears, broken promises, dashed dreams, and shrieks of pure unadulterated joy. That’s to be expected when you bring 2,000 people with very different motivations and beliefs together, and ask them to figure out who will govern a province of over 12 million people.
Yet despite all of that, in the end, what mattered more than the signs and scarves and speeches were the cold hard numbers. So it’s worth pausing to study the math behind Kathleen Wynne’s historic victory:
The First Ballot
The big story of the first ballot was Wynne’s jump to within 2 votes of Pupatello. To get a sense of where that support came from, it’s important to not look at the number of delegates elected but at the number who were actually registered at the convention and eligible to vote after backfills, alternate bumps, and no-shows are taken into account:
There were also 67 registered independents and 320 registered ex-officios. Here’s how they broke in round one:
That means 40 delegates either didn’t vote or ate their ballots – including at least one Takhar delegate, unless Harrinder forgot to vote for himself.
The real story of this was Wynne picking up over 40% of the uncommitted voters. Pre-convention reports had her 10-15 behind Pupatello in the ex-officio count, so it seems likely she was able to snag most of the independent voters – and I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, given many of them were former Glen Murray supporters.
Until we read the tell-all memoirs in 20 years, we won’t know for sure what was going through each candidate’s head at this point, but Wynne’s bounce certainly shifted the odds in her favour, perhaps prompting Hoskins to also shift his endorsement. It also meant the path to a Kennedy victory now relied on more aggresive math – with Hoskins moving to Wynne, Kennedy would have needed at least three-quarters of Takhar and Sousa’s delegates to reach the final ballot. This likely killed any talk of a third option, explaining Takhar’s bizarre move to Pupatello after the deadline to withdraw.
The Second Ballot
With the race now clearly a two-woman show, Kennedy was only able to grow by 4 delegates, and Sousa fell by 19. While no candidate is ever able to deliver 100% of their delegates, both the numbers and what I saw on the floor suggest that’s almost exactly what happened. Pupatello’s vote jumped by 218 – toss in the 18 confused Takhar delegates who voted for their unofficially withdrawn leader, and you nearly hit Takhar’s first ballot number on the money. Similarly, Wynne’s gain of 153 was nearly spot-on to Hoskins’ first ballot total (though some high profile Hoskins supporters did go to Pupatello, including the Right Honourable John Turner).
While Kennedy and Sousa could have stayed around and pushed the inevitable back to midnight, both recognized the reality of the situation and withdrew. A Sousa-to-Pupatello and Kennedy-to-Wynne scenario would have set up an interesting final ballot, but it does not appear that either candidate nor their supporters had much appetite to back Pupatello, whose team had spent much of the campaign belitleling them.
Both men marched to Wynne, effectively sealing the deal. Unless the protestors outside burned the building to the ground, the math was now such that there was virtually no way for Pupatello to hold her lead.
The Third Ballot
As Jeff Jedras reports, some delegates decided it wasn’t worth waiting for the burst water pipes to be fixed and called it a day. Still, all but 57 stayed and voted:
Together, Kennedy and Sousa moved 89% of their vote to Wynne on the final ballot – remarkable when you consider the historical norms, but likely in line with what Takhar and Hoskins also delivered.
Perhaps the timid nature of the campaign left most delegates without strong feelings towards either of the frontrunners, so they figured they might as well follow their man. Perhaps the short timeline gave candidates little time to woo delegates for second ballot support. Perhaps the four defeated candidates all commanded an unusually high sense of loyalty from their troops.
Whatever the reason, this convention came down to cold, hard, delegate math. And the math worked for Wynne a lot better than it did for Pupatello.