As this race has gone on, I thought it would become more and more clear which candidate I would get behind. As of this posting, that still remains and elusive and difficult decision.
There's no doubt that we have a fine slate of candidates in Erin Weir, Ryan Meili, Cam Broten and Trent Wotherspoon. Each has their own unique perspectives and ideas and plans for moving the party forward, but there's also just enough similarity between them that they could be accused of "violent agreement" with one another too often.
I have done my best to remain as impartial as possible on the blog, and I do hope that I've achieved that (even if some mistakes have crept into the blog from time to time that could be mistaken for partisanship). That being said, I do have to admit that as an NDP member, there have been a few times during the course of this campaign where I have walked away from an event or debate and thought, "Yep, he's my candidate"...Only to go to another event or debate and leave in a state of utter confusion as to where to pledge my vote.
I think that speaks a volumes to the quality of our candidates, and I think it shows that regardless of who wins on March 9th, the party will have a good leader at the helm. Also, if the 'majority' of members find themselves in the undecided boat, they might be going through the same back-and-forth support crisis I have found myself in. And in that case, I think it would be foolhardy to try and ascertain that someone has the leadership in the bag. If anything, it should make for an interesting convention.
As such, I want to restate what I have said from the start of this campaign: Regardless of whether or not people want to know, I shall not be laying down an endorsement of any candidate. This is one part of my waffling on trying to decide who to support, but also mainly from the fact that I don't think my endorsement will mean heads or tails in the long run.
Now, there has been some speculation about trying to guess how the voting process will go during the convention. Greg has done some work on this front over at Accidental Deliberations; and I suppose it is worth exploring since we haven't talked a lot about it.
Going into the convention, I think we should be able to see just how much of an 'establishment'/'outsider' mentality is existing within the last few days of the race. We've seen Ryan address this issue by talking about 9 + 1; but we've also seen Cam address it by hammering home the issue of experience/proven leadership. Erin and Trent have mostly seemed to have stayed out of this debate, only talking about the issue when presented a direct question on it.
And while I think you could argue that the bulk of supporters for an 'establishment' candidate will sway to the remaining 'establishment' candidate; much in the same way that supporters of an 'outsider' candidate may gravitate to the remaining 'outsider' candidate if one is eliminated. Of course, this is a rather simple possibility, and is not an iron proof example. Furthermore, there's always the possibility of an unexpected first ballot result.
If both establishment, or both outsider, candidates remain on the second ballot it will completely change how the down-voting process goes. But, there is one sort of out that exists in this kind of scenario. I think we've seen some supporters, from most of the campaigns, make it clear that there are individual "Anyone But ________" campaigns going on behind the scenes. I think we've all seen it, so we don't need to be pointing fingers this way or that way. So, I think that will be a major wild card factor in trying to determine where second ballot voters may go.
Ultimately, I think there are a lot of factors (some of which escape even my consideration) and we just can't figure out which way this is going to go until the day we get there. Again, Greg has done some good work on examining factors and 'roads to victory' for the individual candidates, so it is worth heading over to his blog and giving it a look.
So, I'll close this post on the thought we opened with. Regardless of who wins, we've seen a contest that have brought forward four great candidates who will all have roles to play as we move forward as a party.