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Playing the numbers game

Conflicting delegate tallies add to confusion of handicapping race

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/2/2015 (1330 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

What's in a number?

When it comes to the NDP's leadership race, it's anyone's guess.

Two of the three campaigns over the past month have issued statements totalling up how many constituency delegates they've won heading toward the March 8 leadership vote.

There are 1,242 constituency delegate positions that are eligible to attend the convention out of a total 2,217 delegate spots.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/2/2015 (1330 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

What's in a number?

When it comes to the NDP's leadership race, it's anyone's guess.

Premier Greg Selinger has the backing of the UFCW. Each of the leadership hopefuls is reporting different numbers when it come to their delegate counts.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Premier Greg Selinger has the backing of the UFCW. Each of the leadership hopefuls is reporting different numbers when it come to their delegate counts.

Two of the three campaigns over the past month have issued statements totalling up how many constituency delegates they've won heading toward the March 8 leadership vote.

There are 1,242 constituency delegate positions that are eligible to attend the convention out of a total 2,217 delegate spots.

Since the beginning of the month, Premier Greg Selinger, Steve Ashton and Theresa Oswald have been gobbling up as many of those constituency delegates as possible to ensure they have the people they need to support them on the convention floor.

The problem is no one is 100 per cent sure how many constituency delegates each of the three has. What makes things more confusing is two of the three campaigns have, to date, publicly released vastly different delegate totals. One reason could be the campaigns are counting on the support from the same delegates.

'In a lot of leadership races you know when someone is an also-ran. I don't think you can say that about this particular race'

For example, on Monday, Ashton claimed he had won 505 constituency delegates, the most of the three candidates, with four more constituency meetings to be held by Wednesday and 69 delegates still up for grabs.

Ashton's same math gave Selinger 349 constituency delegates and Oswald 308.

Oswald's campaign was somewhat different. She had Ashton at 485 delegates, her at 395 and Selinger at 349.

Who's right? And any way you try to do the math, it still comes out wonky.

Selinger's campaign has not released a daily tally, but has issued statements saying they are pleased with the support they've received.

Officials for Ashton and Oswald claim they've done their homework and have released accurate data. They also say they are confident in their delegate support.

"I've looked at what some of the other campaigns are reporting, and in my humble view, I think they are off," Oswald said Monday. "I think there may be some double counting going on in terms of labour delegates."

She said her numbers are accurate based on actual commitments delegates have made to her campaign team, not "projections."

"I'm not going to offer you a piece of cake when I haven't put it in the oven yet," she said.

Ashton said his numbers are accurate and the delegates he's won will show up to support him.

"I can guarantee we're going to have a very significant turnout from all of those delegates," he said. "Our first goal was to be the choice of the membership. We're the choice of the membership no matter what happens in the next number of days."

Selinger said the delegate system is complex but fair.

"The reality is that people have got different results based on what they have been told by people who have become delegates," Selinger said. "There may be some overlap there. There may be some duplicates there. All I can say is that we verify the delegate support that we have, and I think every other camp is trying to do the same thing."

Selinger said he suspects the party may revisit the one-member, one-vote system to pick a leader as early as the convention. Some party members tried in 2013 for such a system, but were defeated.

Chris Adams, a political analyst at the University of Manitoba, said the three campaigns are boasting delegate wins and labour endorsements to make it appear they are the front-runners in the race.

Adams said a number of constituency delegates are not 100 per cent committed to a single delegate and could have been counted twice.

"I suspect some people are wearing on their sleeves two candidates instead of just one," he said. "This is a political party with members who know each other and they might just to save face are not openly stating they're going against a particular leadership candidate."

Curtis Brown of Probe Research said Manitobans should not read too much into the number's game.

"All the candidates want to show they have the most possible amount of support, but it seems like a very complex and confusing thing," he said. "There's really no way of knowing until it actually comes time to cast a ballot on the convention floor just how specific those numbers are."

Brown said picking a winner at this point is difficult.

"In a lot of leadership races you know when someone is an also-ran," Brown said. "I don't think you can say that about this particular race. It's very, very competitive."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 7:35 AM CST: Replaces photo

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