NDP leadership candidate drops out, backs Nenshi
NDP leadership candidate drops out, backs Nenshi

Alberta NDP leadership hopeful Naheed Nenshi’s success at signing new members has caused one competitor to drop out, but new data reveals he has an uphill battle against Alberta Premier Danielle Smith if he wins the contest. 

Edmonton MLA Rakhi Pancholi dropped out of the race on Tuesday and announced she would be backing the former Calgary mayor. 

The Alberta NDP has declined to release updated party numbers, but Pancholi said membership numbers provided by the party to leadership candidates reveal that Nenshi has “more than doubled” party membership since he announced his leadership bid two weeks ago.

The Alberta NDP had 16,224 members at the end of December. The party said it would not release an updated count until May 12 as new members are vetted for eligibility.

Leadership contenders have until April 22 to sell memberships. The more memberships they sell, the higher their chance of success as only party members can vote in the leadership contest. 

An Abacus Data poll released Wednesday revealed that Nenshi is also the most known candidate. He’s also the only candidate who has a clear net positive impression. 

Of 1,000 respondents, 31% of Albertans have a positive view of him compared with 23% who have a negative view for a net score of +8. Kathleen Ganley is the only other candidate with a net positive, but just barely at +1.

When it comes to competing with Smith, provincewide support for an Alberta NDP led by Nenshi was at 38% compared with 53% who said they would vote for Smith’s United Conservative Party. 

With Pancholi’s exit, there are five contenders left in the race including Nenshi, Calgary MLA Kathleen Ganley, Edmonton MLAs Sarah Hoffman and Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, and Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.

Sovereign North managing partner Cam Davies said Pancholi’s exit is the “Nenshi coronation,” and the Alberta NDP is quickly going to become the Nenshi democratic party.

“For all intents and purposes, the leadership race is over. Nenshi will win,” Davies told True North. “The math just doesn’t add up for the other candidates.” 

Davies also said only political insiders are paying attention to “crystal ball” polls that try to match voter intention three years ahead of an election.

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