At least, according to Warren Kinsella, he is.
But the very Léger Marketing poll he used to defend has a conflicting report within it. I don't have full access to the numbers (when I do, I'll go a lot more in-depth into it), but the Montreal Gazette gives us some hint of what the results are.
Notionally, 17% of NDP members as a whole support Thomas Mulcair, while 10% support Brian Topp. However, Mulcair's support almost exclusively comes from Quebec - only 3% of NDP supporters in English Canada support Mulcair, compared to 11% for Topp. (It'd be awesome to know others, but whatever.)
Granted, in the current climate of Quebec's small membership count (despite them representing over half of the caucus), this would mean an easy win for Topp. Yes, because of the unfair reality of this leadership race, Topp would be an easy win, when all was said and done with this poll.
But it should tell you something major: Topp is far from on top. Instead, he, maybe like Mulcair, represents just one side of the equation in the NDP's new reality and the new divisions that will spring up within it. It's no longer just a matter of Western prairie socialist vs. Toronto champagne socialism. It's going to be a battle between the interests of English Dippers, who overwhelmingly outnumber Quebeckers on membership and the national council, and the Quebec Dippers, who outnumber English Dippers in the caucus and, one could say, momentum (after all, the Orange Wave wouldn't have happened if it didn't happen in Quebec).
What happens when Quebec's favourite son is shunted by English Canada's white knight? Does that really make Topp the leading contender, or will it spell troubles ahead for the increasingly self-aware New Democratic Party?
We'll see, but in my mind, the possibilities hardly put Topp on top.