Ever since this morning, former leadership rivers Joyce Murray and Martha Hall Findlay have been throwing cold water upon the "poll" - actually a survey, but let's just call it a poll - that Marc Garneau cited as his reasons for not continuing his leadership bid.
The crux of their argument, or at least Joyce Murray's argument starting off, is that:
a) this was not a poll of registered voters;
b) the leadership will not be decided by popular vote, not technically.
Here's my response to those points.
a) This is a valid point. At the same time, 6,000 known Liberals - as far as I know, currently registered members and supporters - are not something to scoff at. If we assume this is a somewhat representative sample of all members and supporters, or roughly 294,000, the margin of error on it is still only 1.25%; if we assume only a third of that 294,000 will be registered, and put that to our sample, that's just under 2,000 surveyed - its still only a margin of error of 2.2%. We can go smaller and assume likely voters, but then you're splitting hairs.
The point is that 6,000 people surveyed is a big, big number, and 72% of them said they're going to support Trudeau as leader. Those are numbers to take into account when making the decision that Garneau made. I don't think Murray has much of a case here, though if you want to make an excuse up, you could do worse than point out that it isn't a poll of registered voters.
b) If Trudeau cannot win a majority of riding points with 72% of the popular vote, then the system we've used is completely screwed up and nowhere near proportional, and I would expect Murray, the person going on and on about proportional representation, to refuse the leadership.
At the same time, we can look at a very similar case - the 2004 Conservative leadership convention. In that race, Stephen Harper won 68.9% of the votes but only 56.2% of the "points," - his main competitor, Belinda Stronach, won 22.9% of the votes and 34.5% of the points, while Tony Clement won 8.2% of the votes and 9.4% of the "points."
So, already we have one case whereby its clear that a landslide win in the popular vote translated into a landslide win in the "points" category. There was, of course, a drop for the frontrunner and increased tallies for the challengers. This is because, frankly, this "points" system is kind of stupid. Very similar to the American Electoral College, except everyone has the equal amount of electors. Giving small ridings the same say as big ridings is not a good idea, as you can end up with a very skewed result.
Anyways, it would take a tremendous amount of screwing around to ensure that the 72% support Justin receives doesn't translate into majority support. He would need to end up winning vast, huge, enormous leads in a handful of ridings, and not be competitive anywhere else. Any candidate elected by this method would be illegitimate in the eyes of the vast majority of voters. And its a huge stretch of the imagination, grasping at straws, etc.
Now, the assumption I'm going off is that Murray and Hall Findlay think these numbers are wrong, and that the race is much closer. If true, then sure, they do have a chance. So why not commission their own surveys and polls, and release those? Prove to us that Garneau's survey was wrong. Then we'll take you seriously - but until that's done, I find their objections to this survey to be nothing but fluff.