So I've just spent a little time playing around with the poll data from EKOS, and I've got to say it's fascinating reading.
The problem is that any meaningful discussions need to be drawn from small sub-divisions of the poll sample, meaning that the margins of error are quite large, larger in some cases than the hypothetical margins of victory. Secondly, in most of these divisions the number of people who are undecided is larger than any other group. So if we're going to draw many conclusions, we need to assume that the undecideds break more or less along the lines of the already-decideds.
With both of those provisos - and I acknowledge to potential for error is large, here - I think Rae is in a very good position right about now. Let me explain.
Basically, I took the EKOS numbers for the four also-rans, and tried to extrapolate where their support would go after the first ballot. What I came up with was basically that the vast majority of support would go to Rae and Dion, with less going to Kennedy and Ignatieff. By the time the four leaders are left on the ballot, you end up with something like:
Again, remember the large margins of error involved here. So far, we don't know anything we didn't already know - R, D, and K are all in contention for 2nd, with Rae running strongest. The big question is who drops out first - Dion or Kennedy?
I'm assuming, just for this exercise, that Kennedy drops out and his supporters divide themselves according to EKOS' numbers. Like I said before though, Kennedy's supporters are very loyal, so it's possible he could put Dion or Rae in first. Let's assume though that he doesn't. That gets us an Ignatieff/Rae/Dion split of about 37/33/30. Ignatieff's support has grown almost none at all, while Rae and Dion have both made large gains.
Dion, however, hasn't made enough gains to go on to the next ballot, and this is where Ignatieff's lack of growth really kills him. Almost nobody lists Ignatieff as their third choice, in the EKOS polls. 90% of Dion's supporters choose someone other than Ignatieff, and Ignatieff tops the list of people the delegates DO NOT want to see become leader. So if Dion drops out in third, I expect the vast majority of his support - at least 2/3, as much as 90% - to go to Rae. And that's enough to put Rae over the top.
Of course, there's still a month to go before the convention, and there's plenty of stuff that can still happen. In particular, Kennedy could throw his support behind Dion, and Dion could get surprise support from people who'd like to see a Liberal who's belonged to the party for more than 1 year win. (Rae comes in 2nd on the DO NOT elect list, behind Ignatieff.) More interestingly, Ignatieff could start to lose support if he doesn't take it after the 2nd ballot.
Politics, of course, is not algebra. We can't make predictions based on fuzzy math. Nevertheless, the fundamentals are against Kennedy at this point, and Dion has a very hard road ahead of him. Based on the data available today, I'd bet on Rae or Dion, and against Ignatieff or Kennedy. We'll see.