Brian Topp’s decision to stay in the race, if that’s what it still is at this late hour, for a fourth round of tallying up ballots will go down as one of the more controversial moves of the NDP leadership campaign.
The argument for staying in for another round is that Topp’s most fervent supporters would expect him to go the distance. The argument for bowing out is that his chances of overtaking Thomas Mulcair are so poor at this stage that he’d serve NDP unity better by gracefully conceding.
Remorseless arithmetic makes it an extraordinary tall order for Topp to win. He had 19,822 votes on the third ballot, compared to 27,488 for Mulcair. Nathan Cullen must now drop off, so the question is how his 15,426 votes will split. To deny Mulcair, Topp must claim about three-quarters of Cullen’s support, roughly speaking. Not likely.
Considering the anxiety within the party about the tension between the Mulcair and Topp camps, pushing this to the bitter end must be worrying to NDP insiders. The message in some of the earlier moves today—notably Northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus’s throw of support to Mulcair, after Paul Dewar, Angus’s first pick, gave up—is that it’s time to put misgivings about Mulcair aside.
Perhaps one factor here is that Topp is not an MP. He won’t have to sit in caucus meetings with Mulcair as leader.