Gary Mar is the Man
After Saturday's first round of voting, it seems all but certain that Gary Mar will be the next Premier of Alberta:
Gary Mar: 24195 (41%)
Alison Redford: 11129 (19%)
Doug Horner: 8635 (15%)
Ted Morton: 6962 (12%)
Rick Orman: 6005 (10%)
Doug Griffiths: 2435 (4%)
Yes, Ed Stelmach turned 15% on the first ballot into a win in 2006, but those were very different times. The frontrunner had received just 30% after a lackluster campaign. Voters were looking for a third way in what had become a polarized Dinning-Morton feud. The 4th, 5th, and 6th place candidates all threw their support behind Stelmach.
Sure, Mar's supporters could become complacent. But the also-rans have all seen which way the wind is blowing, and Alison Redford would need to triple her vote to take it. Only something truly remarkable can prevent Mar from becoming the 5th Premier in Alberta's Tory dynasty.
So how did this come about?
The most surprising number in round one is not Mar's total, but Morton's. Morton received 26,000 votes in the first round in 2006 and 41,000 in the final. Since then, Morton beefed up his resume with a stint as Finance Minister. Yet there he was, unable to rally even a third of his former supporters.
Morton blamed the harvest, but the reality is most people who were supportin' Morton in 2006 have long since migrated to the Wildrose Alliance. I don't think Morton will follow them, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the 62 year old professor hang up his spurs before the next election. Maybe him and Tom Flanagan can do a weekly podcast together, or something.
ROUND 1 BY THE NUMBERS
For pretty maps, mosey over to labradore or Daveberta. It was interesting to see Mar sweep Edmonton, given he's a Calgary boy.
Some will no doubt chalk up Mar's win to his edge in establishment support - after all, he had endorsements from 26 MLAs and some guy named Ralph Klein. There's some indication this paid off - Mar received 54% of the vote in ridings where he was backed by the local MLA, compared to 35% elsewhere.
Which sounds impressive until you consider that Ted Morton's support was 14-points higher in ridings where he was endorsed (24% vs. 10%) and Doug Horner's was 38-points higher (46% vs. 8%)! Yes, in a lot of cases, MLAs endorsed candidates they knew were popular, but Mar's team still delivered in ridings where the local establishment was working against him.
For those curious, here are the MLAs who were most effective at boosting the support for their candidate of choice (based on how much the candidate exceeded their province-wide support in the riding):
1. Ray Danyluk (Horner) +67%
2. Frank Oberle (Horner) +54%
3. Ken Kowalski (Horner) + 50%
4. Hector Goudreau (Horner) + 48%
5. Doug Horner (duh) +48%
All are Horner backers, unsurprising given his concentrated support in the rural north. On the Mar campaign, Thomas Lukaszuk (+30), Dave Hancock (+26), and Naresh Bhardwaj (+24) delivered the most, while George Groeneveld (+27) and Evan Berger (+21) were both more effective at delivering for Ted Morton than Ted Morton was.
And for those curious, the "thanks, but no thanks" award for the least effective endorsements is shared by Lindsay Blackett, Yvonne Fritz, Len Mitzel, Barry McFarland, Richard Marz, and Ken Allred. For these 6 MLAs, their candidate of choice did worse in their home riding than elsewhere.
Hat Tip to Tim Duncan for the endorsement numbers.