A rundown of the day so far at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Results of first ballot: Mulcair: 30.2, Topp 21.3, Cullen 16.3, Nash 12.8, Dewar 7.4, Singh 5.8, Ashton, 5..7.
The servers were down and lots of Dippers on their computers in the world beyond can't make their choice. So proceedings went on hold with that technical glitch.
The room turned to scarves - purple for Nash; green for Cullen; orange for Topp. Scarves get important when people change camps at later rounds. It's a merry-go-round of shifting loyalties.
After round one, Dewar released his delegates, despite Charlie Angus' move to Mulcair. Some are in Topp's camp; some Nash's. Remember Dewar had 7.4% on first ballot.
So too, Ashton has sent her 5.7% of followers to follow their consciences. Some are in the Nash camp. Martin Singh has, as we know, has gone to Mulcair -- he captured 5.8. Every vote counts in this wild showdown.
Cullen's folks: well, they seem to be holding steady awaiting the 3rd ballot. At 16.3%, they're key. Will they go en masse somewhere? There are many with a Mulcair vote in their back pockets come round three; but some vehemently won't do that.
Nash and Topp people have an affinity -- they see themselves as leftoids and Mulcair as a centrist. Optics rule here despite actual programmatic similarities. So if there is an anyone but Mulcair gang-up later, this gets key.
Very important: there are only 4000 and some folks here -- most of the action is happening in the privacy and solace of individual lives as Dippers sit at their computers or click on their cell phones across the country. These are the unknowable people to us -- though very knowable to the key camps who have huge phone tracking of where votes are going.
Round two looks like this: Nash 16.8 percent, Cullen 19.9, Topp 25, Mulcair 38.3.
What this means is more spills and chills and a very long day.
Nash is, of course, gone into the ether, being last on the numbers list. There was a major courting session a while back where Topp supporters, who happen to be camped next to hers, chanted "solidarity'' and handed her dejected backers orange scarves. Many have taken them. Some are still in shock.
Nash has announced she isn't backing anyone so her folks are on their own.
A new round of voting has begun; it's supposed to take two hours, a good thing because party's had tech disasters and needs lots of time, but a bad thing too, because the convention could lose voters out there in the real world to the nice weather and Saturday chores.
The Topp camp is feeling not too badly. They need to scoop up lots of Nash peeps on this round, and they probably will. But how many is the question. Brian Topp was just out in the hall telling animated Rene Lovesick stories from his days as a reporter for the McGill Daily. He seems relaxed and chatty.
Cullen's folks are hanging in. Cullen has vowed to stay on the ballot. This will be decisive because his backers could decide the fate of Mulcair and Topp, but not this round. This vote ts all about the movement of Nash's folks. But the round following could see a Topp-Mulcair major frontal showdown, because that one will all be about the movement of Cullen's peeps. See the complexity? Not too many Nash purples are adding green Cullen scarves from what I can see. Lots of Cullen people have reserved a Mulcair vote for later, but not all. So again, how many is lots?
What's going on here is theatre -- what's going on in the private relationship between voters and their technology across the country is the real issue. The game is being settled through electronics. Key is the various phone banks. Talked to Mulcair organizers who laid out the inner workings. Every round they do major phoning from phone ops off site, engage their tweeting followers and do massive emails -- all of this to people they have already identified. This is the critical part - they know exactly who, plus or minus all kinds of unknowns and chaos, will come to them in third or fourth rounds. Their job is to round them up and chart whether or not they've voted.
Dippers out there are no doubt cluing into the scarf add-ons as they watched TV -- that signals possible options for them. So everything counts here - social media, TV images, old fashioned email and yes, the telephone. The spectacle here is directed to the NDP world going about its daily life out there. So much for spacially-defined conventions, I would say.
Ballot three: Cullen 24.6, Topp 31.6, Mulcair 43.8
It's a slog-a-thon for sure.
The big news is Cullen and his decision not to endorse anyone as he fades from the race.
Not sure whether this is diplomacy or just consistent with his outsider positioning. The ultimate effect is that he has not alienated either possible winner, but neither has he ingratiated himself with the future power force. This means the contingent of green scarfs will vote according to their desires. Already the Mulcair camp is welcoming each new Cullen type with hurrahs.
I've been out and about trying to count Cullen folks donning Topp orange. Not so many at last count, let me say it again: this race is being decided by Dippers not trapped in this convention marathon. The outcome is being determined on the phone and email lines as the two top contenders firm up the next vote. Libby Davies, a Topp supporter, told the media that the Topp phone effort will concentrate on BC where Cullen comes from, and where Topp has some strength.
Meanwhile Mulcair's team with its two phone ops, one in Kensington and one in Vancouver, are also on emergency alert grabbing those last votes.
Cullen's strength -- with its percentage so close to Topp's is quite a surprise and bespeaks some difficult times in the future. The party has now officially turned down a strategic voting option. Hard to tell now what the leftover frustrations will be from that camp, where adherents believe they have offered the only possible winning alternative. Cullen is now saying he is going to continue his efforts to "change politics.'' Not sure right now what this translates into.
Pat Martin told the press this afternoon that the key issue was that there was no time for a learning curve -- this is certainly the pragmatic consideration that is bolstering Mulcair's camp. I keep hearing former Nash backers saying they are holding their noses and voting for the Quebec MP. Lots of pinched noses here actually.
Impressive Mulcair, himself, stood in the midst of exuberant chanting, breathing hard, as if this was all too much to take and smiling to such an extent I actually felt his aching facial muscles. Last night, his key organizer told me he felt "cautiously optimistic'' -- that means the team is taking no chances and taking nothing for granted, even here in the last minutes.
Certainly Topp supporters are crazy loyal. The former Layton strategist is considered by many the sole candidate pushing reform of the tax system and equality issues. His backers praise his commitment to "unreformed'' social democracy, and believe as the only contender to have been born in Quebec, that his Belle Province cred is quite intact.
Meanwhile, I'm getting deeper admiration for the Dippers; many struggle mightily with their votes. One delegate said he felt like he had the fate of the world on his shoulders, expressing the general view that casting a ballot here is no matter of whimsy or going along with friends. I've never seen such conscientious soul searching in a race where policy isn't at the fore. A truly new New Democrat experience.
We await the final count, due within the hour -- if the tech doesn't crash out again.