Ontario Liberal leadership: on the numbers

62298_393466764077929_1219298584_nAs a Kathleen Wynne delegate to the leadership convention, I will probably take some time in trying to articulate the significance of the win and not rush into a blathering post about how freakin’ awesome it all is. (By the way, Adam Goldenberg really nailed the personal aspect in his post for Macleans.) For now, a few thoughts about numbers.

Going into the first ballot, we knew how the delegates would vote because the ballots were pre-printed – you had to support the candidate for whom you ran, obviously, or the first ballot results would not reflect how your association members voted. Only independent (mostly candidates standing for Glen Murray, who withdrew) and ex-officio (presidents, politicians) could choose.

1st Ballot – Committed Delegates

Pupatello 509
Wynne 468
Kennedy 260
Takhar 244
Sousa 204
Hoskins 105
Independent 67

1st Ballot – With Ex-Officio & Independents Added

Pupatello 599 (+90)
Wynne 597 (+153)
Kennedy 281 (+21)
Takhar 235 (-9)
Sousa 222 (+18)
Hoskins 150 (+45)

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how Takhar managed to decrease his total. Was it simply that his delegates didn’t show up? Alternates were “bumped up” early Saturday, as 11 PM Friday was the registration deadline. I suppose that’s the explanation, but I’d be very interested in your analysis so do send it my way.

You can see early on how momentum was going Wynne’s way. That first result – 597 for Wynne to Pupatello’s 599 – was a huge shock within our delegation; we expected a gap of up to 100 votes. A deficit of just 2 was astounding. Hoskins also did very well. A good friend of mine, who was ex-officio, voted for Hoskins on the 1st ballot even as she sat donning her Wynne gear; she likes Hoskins, and wanted him to do well enough to make a difference… which he did.

2nd Ballot

Pupatello 817 (+218)
Wynne 750 (+153)
Kennedy 285 (+4)
Sousa 203 (-19)
Takhar 18 (-217)

Takhar dropped off and supported Pupatello but only after the 20-minute period before the ballot was printed. Clearly, his supporters followed him to Pupatello, and Hoskins’ delegates went en masse to Wynne.

3rd Ballot

Wynne 1,150 (+400)
Pupatello 866 (+49)

Let’s discount (as I have done for each ballot) those who simply didn’t vote. Given that I waited an hour and a half to vote on the 3rd ballot, it’s amazing – and a wonderful thing, democratically – that only 68 ballots were lost between the 1st and last ballots through attrition. Only a handful of ballots were spoiled on each count. As I recall, precisely one ballot was spoiled on the 1st.

Let’s also assume that those 18 Takhar voters from the 2nd ballot went to Pupatello on the 3rd, and it’s an easy conclusion that Kennedy and Sousa did indeed bring their delegates along with them to Wynne. I’m fudging the numbers, obviously, because it’s a secret ballot, but remove those 18 Takhar votes and something like 6% of Kennedy and Sousa delegates defied their candidates’ choice. Not 6% of total votes; 6% of all Kennedy and Sousa delegates.

Of course, if you ran for Gerard or Charles, presumably you trusted their judgement. I’m biased, of course, but Team Wynne was relentlessly upbeat, optimistic, and encouraging; more on that in a later post. I have anecdotal evidence that Wynne herself reached out to Kennedy and Sousa people with that last ballot in mind, and certainly, the folks I know in those camps told me privately that the respect she showed them did make a difference.

A mea culpa: we in the Wynne camp sold Charles Sousa and his supporters short. Many of us blithely assumed a clear left-right split, that Kennedy would go to Wynne but Sousa, the former banker, would naturally align with Pupatello. (Of course, our assumptions were wrong, and I am very grateful for that.)

Not to detract from Sousa as “queenmaker,” especially since his crossing to Wynne was such a spectacular, emotional moment, but if we simply add up Pupatello plus Sousa plus Takhar on one side, and Wynne plus Kennedy on the other, you end up with Pupatello winning by 3 votes. I’m quite sure that Sousa’s team can do math much better than I. Still, I do believe in my heart of hearts that Kathleen Wynne’s own demeanour, speech, and team deserves credit for running a respectful campaign.

This leads to my final point, which isn’t really “on the numbers.”

Perhaps, given the tallies on each ballot, it makes sense that the most bitter, ungracious posts, tweets, and comments today are focused not on Sousa but on Hoskins, whose endorsement was an early sign of that momentum had shifted.

Perhaps, though, it is incredibly insulting to blame one, two, or three men for a defeat, when we’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of intelligent, committed, caring Liberals who, in the secrecy of the ballot box, supported their candidates’ second choice without threat or coercion.

And perhaps it is a good thing to remember that politics is not, in fact, a chess game. We are not pawns to be moved around, praised or dismissed solely on the basis of acting as agents for our chosen leadership candidates, electoral candidates, and parties.

Kathleen Wynne did not win, and Sandra Pupatello did not lose, because Hoskins did this or Sousa did that. Wynne won because a majority of delegates wanted her as the new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and the 25th premier of Ontario.