George Abbott campaign's may have a hidden advantage in his bid to succeed Gordon Campbell. According to membership data revealed earlier this week by The Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer, at the start of the leadership race there were some big difference between how many Liberals there were in each riding - ranging from 43 to over 2,500. But here's the kicker: ridings represented by MLAs endorsing Mr. Abbott had more members (10,730 or 31 percent of cardholders) in November than those represented by MLAs endorsing Mr. Falcon (8,001 or 23 percent of cardholders).
In fact, ten of the MLAs backing Mr. Falcon had riding memberships of less than 300. Of the ten, four - Iain Black, Stephanie Cadieux, Ron Cantelon and Mary Polak - had the smallest riding memberships in the party, with Ms. Polak having just 99 Liberals in her constituency.
Mr. Abbott, on the other hand, is supported by most of the MLAs that went through contested nominations in the lead up to the 2009 election. These legislators sold a lot of memberships and managed to get a majority to vote for them in those nominations.
As a result, it's more Mr. Abbott's MLAs will be able to deliver their ridings to him - a distinct advantage under the Liberals' proposed weighted voting system. By comparison, Mr. Falcon's MLAs might not have as much control over Liberals in their own constituency - with new sign-ups of indeterminate loyalty being able to easily swamp the lower number of existing members in them.
But whether Mr. Abbott will be able to capitalize on this hidden advantage remains to be seen.
Bernard von Schulmann is a policy and land use consultant. In 1999, he predicted "the New Democratic Party is looking at four safe seats" in the 2001 election. "A complete shutout is not an impossibility." In 2005, he was the campaign coordinator for Yes for BC-STV. Mr. Schulmann blogs at BC Iconoclast. He is presently a member of the provincial Liberals and the federal Conservatives, as well as being a pacifist Quaker.