Liberal Leadership Power Rankings

All signs point to a Justin Trudeau cakewalk
Justin Trudeau is head and shoulders ahead of his closest competitors

During the NDP leadership race, I got into the habit of tabulating “Power Rankings” of how the different candidates fared on fundraising, Facebook, Twitter, polls, and any other shred of quantitative data I could claw my hands onto. The exercise wasn’t intended to predict the first ballot vote, but it actually came surprisingly close to the mark.

After measuring how closely correlated those various metrics were to candidate support in seven recent races (including the NDP contest), I’m ready to launch the Liberal Leadership Power Rankings, based on:

1. Fundraising (30%): My research showed total dollars raised to be a better predictor than total number of donors, so that’s what I’ll be looking at – using the figures helpfully compiled by Pundits Guide.

2. Endorsements (30%): In past contests, a simple count of caucus endorsers has been as good a predictor of success as more elaborate systems, but there aren’t a lot of Liberal MPs to count so I’ll be relying on Eric Grenier’s endorsement scores. Alison Redford and Christy Clark both showed that endorsements can be overrated but, on the whole, they were a better predictor of support than fundraising numbers in the races I looked at – and they provided a good picture of the NDP contest.

3. Media Mentions (30%): This simple count of Google news stories is incredibly crude but, for whatever reason, it turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of first ballot support. Just goes to show the media may not be as clueless about leadership races as they’re often painted to be.

4. Social Media (10%): Turns out this has next to no relationship with support but, hey, it’s fun to count. So I’ll give 5% to Twitter followers and 5% to Facebook likes.

This formula may be tweaked if new data (i.e. polls among Liberal members) is released, but here are the preliminary rankings:

Fundraising Endorsement Media Facebook Twitter Power Rank
Justin Trudeau $673,157 78% 56% 66,132 183,370 66%
Marc Garneau $122,616 17% 11% 3,472 10,908 12%
Martha Hall Findlay $149,877 1% 7% 3,568 7,086 7%
Joyce Murray $56,554 3% 10% 1,200 4,471 5%
George Takach $106,233 0% 4% 1,071 1,698 4%
David Bertschi $0 1% 7% 498 1,287 2%
Martin Cauchon $0 1% 2% 2,519 1,320 1%
Karen McCrimmon $20,275 0% 2% 302 628 1%
Deborah Coyne $16,355 0% 2% 371 1,966 1%

Again, this isn’t a first ballot prediction. The fundraising numbers are out of date, and this magic formula overlooks the most important variable in all of this – the ground game. These rankings are intended only as a fun exercise to give a sense of candidate support and momentum.

So when you see that “66%” next to Justin Trudeau’s name, don’t take it as proof this race is over. It’s possible someone might break free of the pack and narrow that gap. But as it sits now, every sign points to a crushing Trudeau victory.

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26 responses to “Liberal Leadership Power Rankings”

  1. An interesting thing that I believe Eric Grenier looked at, which ended up being a good indicator, was candidates Wikipedia page views.

    • In some respects I agree, but the problem with past coronations wasn’t so much that everyone got behind one candidate, but that the candidate wasn’t tested.

      If Justin is thoroughly tested by other candidates and the media and 60% of the party end up voting for him, that’s not necesarily a bad thing.

      • True> In fact, I’d say that it’s a good thing if the leader is chosen by such a huge margin after a vigorous campaign in which (s)he has been thoroughly challenged. But that wasn’t what I mean by “coronation”.

        Anyway, by all accounts, JT is *not* being fully tested so far – his lead is so commanding that nobody’s willing to take him on for fear of offending him, or of handing ammunition to the Tories/NDP for 2015. And that means he may not be ready to counter the ammunition they already have.

          • Perhaps that will change in the next debate; I expect that Martha Hall-Findlay will face some criticism of her position on supply management, which could lead to some much needed sparks.

      • Really? I should think it’s obvious why a coronation is a bad idea. Among other reasons:

        1) It means that JT will be chosen without facing any sort of real test of his ability to counter political attacks. And then he’ll have to face the Conservatives and NDP, who will NOT be pulling punches or tossing him soft questions. So far he’s made some serious blunders – where’s the evidence that he can do better, well enough to reverse the Liberal decline?

        2) It reinforces the idea that Liberals care about polls rather than principles. That the party has no real reason for existing beyond the cause of getting power for its own sake, and is just looking for a gimmick to help regain that power as quickly as possible.

        3) It reinforces the idea that there’s no point in getting active in the Liberal Party, because the important decision is already a foregone conclusion.

  2. Dan, you might want to consider some sort of equation for facebook “likes” and “talking about” to determine FB ranking…for example… as of today MHF and MG are neck and neck for “likes” but MHF has something like 1,400 “talking about” and MG has around 200. JT has just under 10,000 talking about v. the 65K + likes.

    • Good point. That may get incorporated into the next update.

      For Joyce, I ran the numbers over the weekend, so it’s possible she had a temporary spike that has since abated. It’s also possible I made a mistake. In either event, the next update will fix it away.

  3. Also, I think Joyce Murray’s numbers are off for google news… when you search her name as “Joyce Murray” you get just over 728 hits… and I should get back to work now…

  4. I’m a policy wonk. CPC has better fundraising on the ground, like Obama had his 1st election win. Quantum repeaters can be used for making better telescopes. Imaging planets in other systems and stuff. I think it would useful to develop secure communications for pandemics and AI WMD nefarious applications, many decades from now. Developing quantum repeaters for telescopes would probably make quantum encyption algorithms cheaper and better. Just need to raising some taxes and spread some R+D dollars across the universities and community colleges.

    • There’s a blast from the past. I remember reading an alternate history once where the Clark government never fell, and Donald McDonald then became Liberal leader (since Turner had said he wasn’t going to run) and was eventually elected on a pro-free trade platform.

  5. Hey, did you know that one of Martha Hall Findlay’s campaign brochures cites a quote from your National Post article on her position on supply management?

    I think this makes you an official pundit! 😀

      • “…it lets Hall Findlay get ahead of the pack and define herself as a substantive policy-first candidate.

        Liberals are looking for a leader who will put forward bold policies, and abolishing supply management is a bold policy…”

        – Dan Arnold, “Hall Findlay sees the leadership value of cheaper milk”

  6. FWIW, the Hall Findlay fundraising numbers are a bit wonky, as her campaign confirmed today that she used the first 30k or so to pay off old debts from 2006.

    Speaking of fundraising – will we be getting any fundraising reports before the election? I ask because the fundraising environment’s pretty rough out there for anyone who’s not Trudeau, so there must be a *bunch* of campaigns (ie. every single one of them other than Justin) which is basically running into self-finance territory…which would presumably mean some should start folding…

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