Monday, November 27, 2006

What is Happening This Week?

I received this note from a friend outside the blogosphere. I promised not to identify the person but thought sharing our exchange might be interesting for readers. My friend writes:

I enjoyed reading your analysis of the first vote, and the implications for round two. I'm not going to comment on the blog, but wanted to offer my perspective.
• My first take on the weekend was to agree that among existing voters, Edmonton is the battleground. More than 50% of the votes here have been freed-up to go to other candidates, versus just 17% in Calgary and 24% outside the two centres. But in absolute numbers, the vote total in Edmonton wasn't impressive, so that translates into about 11,800 round-one votes from Edmonton that need to find a home, but also 11,400 non-big-city votes looking.
• The potential for continued walk-up sales is enormous. I think there's a growing appreciation that in this one-party-state, all Albertans have a stake in the election for Premier. It wouldn't surprise me if 200,000 people voted in the final round, at which point the outcome becomes highly unpredictable and unmanageable. I think that also means that Thursday's televised debate could be a watershed moment -- if any of the candidates stumble in that showing, their walk-up support could disappear.
• 40% of Stelmach's vote (6,207 votes) came from just seven ridings -- the ones near his own -- and there were 44 ridings where he attracted fewer than 100 votes, including all of Calgary. This doesn't bode well for his growth on the second-ballot. On the other hand, it doesn't matter where the voter lives, as long as you get the vote. If Hancock has turned out every voter in his riding who voted for him in the provincial election, he'd be on the second ballot. (I'm being glib, but it's true.) So other than capturing the endorsements, campaigns may be best served playing to their strengths.
• If Stelmach moves into second place, it's clear that he'll win the final count going away. After all, how many Dinning or Morton supporters will be listing each other's candidate as their second choice. Ed is everyone's second choice. But he's got a lot of ground to make up before that fact can become useful.
• There is a strong argument to be made that social-conservative supporters will see how close their man is to victory and be motivated to turn-out. Likewise, centrist and left-leaning voters may turn up to stop Morton, and would probably back the front-runner. Is there a similar crop of motivated rural or northern-Alberta voters for Stelmach?
• The gold-star goes to Hung Pham. Between the Edmonton advance poll and Calgary-Montrose, he delivered 1,000 votes. Question: is he following Oberg's choice on the second ballot? And will he make the same organizational effort to deliver those 1,000 votes? These are perhaps the only votes that can be reliably "delivered" by any defeated candidate. I doubt that the endorsements from Hancock and Oberg will produce a high-level of cohesion from their voters, so I think your numbers in today's post are optimistic.
• A personal note: I think there are more important things in this campaign than the Edmonton/Calgary rivalry, and other than that motivation I don't see much reason to vote for Stelmach. I'll admit that I'm strongly motivated to vote against Morton, but that's one-half because of his ideology and one-half because he's completed unqualified to run the government. The man's never run an organization that's the size of cabinet, much less led a cabinet and caucus that in turn runs the province. A belief in good governance is a moral value too. Forget the firewall letter; let's talk about basic qualifications for the job.
Apologies for the long ramble, but your blog-posts got me thinking and I wanted to share some of this with you.
All the best,

You are a wise and insightful man.
No growth in Calgary for Stelmach is pretty much a given. He holds his base and the Oberg voters are a question. Jim owns Calgary and the new votes there will be mostly for him and some for Morton.

There is a huge built up frustrated animus towards the Calgary power elites from all other sectors and areas of Alberta. Stelmach and Morton will be a lightening rods for that animus and people will show up to express it at the ballot box. "The North Wants In" is becoming a ballot box motivator for many Albertans Red Deer and north. "More Alberta - Less Ottawa" seems to resonate with Morton southerners.

There is also a profound distrust of the republican-lite/evangelical motivations of Morton from those not in his political "church." He has growth potential because they are close to achieving real power and feel they and been tricked and duped by Harper. The Quebec Nation question is perhaps their last straw I sense. So they will try to make Alberta into a U.S. Repubican-values caricature if they can't do it Nationally.

The fragmentation of our Alberta polity is becoming profound and pronounced and is not just an isolated Edmonton phenomenon any more.

Human decency, trustworthiness, respectfulness and authenticity counts for something amongst in fair minded people. Will that animate them to turn up. 100000 strong showed up last Saturday, almost from nowhere, on the coldest most miserable day of the year so far. That tells me Albertans will becoming out in droves on Saturday. Bad weather is not a negative factor but good weather will be a positive influence.

They are waking up to the campaign outcomes implications and walking up to the voting opportunity and most of all, they are stepping up to take back the ultimate decision about how they choose to be governed. The open question is who are they showing up to support? Today who knows? Saturday all will be decided but I bet not much will be clear.

Stelmach needs a successful political campaign this week. But he needs more than that. He needs a secular crusade to create a ground swell of individual engagement. That crusade needs to show up and give him a mandate for real change - and you know what - I think it might just happen. Yes it is a bit "Field of Dreams-ish" I know. But I am a sucker for romance.