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Statistics Canada last week began releasing the findings of the 2011 Census. The first release, population counts, is from the short form census which all of us had to fill out. Information from the controversially voluntary national household survey will not come until next year.

Did you fill out your census this time? If you did, you’re in good company as 98.1 per cent of Canadians complied this time, slightly higher than the 96.5 per cent who responded in 2006.

Census 2011

More noteworthy however is that more than half of us filled out the census online. It’s only the second time Statistics Canada has offered an online response option. In 2006, fewer than one if five people chose that option. In 2011, 54 per cent did.

While the census is not the same as voting, it certainly makes one think whether online voting could have similar interest for voters. Of course it’s mandatory to fill out the short form census. It’s not mandatory to vote in Canada. And there are of course other issues which go into whether or not someone votes.

But still. It gives some food for thought.

***

NDP MP and leadership contender Paul Dewar today released results from a poll his campaign conducted.

First choice (decided voters):

Thomas Mulcair 25.5%
Peggy Nash 16.8%
Paul Dewar 15.1%
Nathan Cullen 12.8%
Brian Topp 12.7%
Nikki Ashton 9.5%
Martin Singh 4.1%
Romeo Saganash 3.6%

Saganash dropped out of the race last week. He didn’t throw his support to anyone but didn’t have very many first ballot votes according to this poll, so it won’t make a huge difference where his supporters move.

That Mulcair is leading is not that surprising. He is easily the most recognizable of all the candidates, particularly in Quebec. Some think he is the best choice because he is the most centrist and can continue to push the Liberals out of their traditional territory. He is also the only Quebec MP left in the race and some see him as the only way the NDP will hold onto to its support in Quebec in the next election.

But there is also an anyone but Mulcair movement, because some would rather any one of the other six candidates win over Mulcair. They think he is too centrist, too divisive, too angry, too something.

That Brian Topp is so far down the list is a bit more surprising. There are some who have said for awhile that Topp was no longer in the top four of candidates and this seems to prove it. Interesting because when Topp entered the race last September he was supposed to be unbeatable. He was first into the race. He started raising money and campaigning almost a month before Mulcair. With big endorsements from Roy Romanow and Ed Broadbent he seemed to be hard to beat. He raised more money than anyone else prior to Christmas. But if this poll is accurate Topp isn’t really in it at all anymore.

If the poll is accurate nobody is going to win on the first ballot. Not surprising when there are that many candidates in the race. So it’s just as important who people want for their second choice.

2nd choice (decided voters):

Paul Dewar 21.2%
Peggy Nash 19.4%
Thomas Mulcair 16.7%
Nathan Cullen 14.4%
Brian Topp 12.4%
Nikki Ashton 10.7%
Romeo Saganash 3.6%
Martin Singh 1.8%

The Dewar camp is not saying where the second ballot choices are coming from. ie: Dewar is the second choice of 21.2 per cent of NDP members. But if all those people are also supporters of Nash and Mulcair it won’t change his second ballot results much because well, they are going to make it the second ballot and almost certainly third, fourth and even fifth ballots as well, if they are required.

The front runners need to convince those who support Cullen, Topp, Ashton and Singh to move their way as their preferred choices drop of the ballot in subsequent votes. (The NDP rules stipulate the last place finisher or all candidates who receive less than one per cent of a vote will drop off each round. If this poll is accurate Singh would drop off first.)

Because the Dewar camp isn’t saying where the second choices are coming from, it’s impossible to really know who benefits from them. They obviously released this poll hoping to give Dewar’s campaign some momentum and prove he’s playing in the big leagues.

They also won’t release the provincial or regional breakdowns so it’s impossible to know where the support is coming from.

6,373 NDP members responded to the poll. It was weighted to reflect current membership numbers by province and territory. The poll has a margin of error of 1.19% 19 times out of 20.

The leadership will be decided March 24 in Toronto. The next all-candidates debate is scheduled for Winnipeg on Feb. 26.

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