Lorraine Michael won't say what percentage she'll need when Newfoundland and Labrador's New Democratic Party reviews her leadership in May.
But a Memorial University political science professor says she'll need support in the 70s to avoid a full-blown leadership race.
The NDP executive decided on Tuesday that party members will hold a confidence vote at the May convention.
MUN's Kelly Blidook said the timing for the convention isn't ideal.
"You want a strong review, you want to actually show the world that you're ready to keep doing this thing, and that's what she [Michael] needs it to be. We just don't know for sure that's going to happen," he said.
"So it does make this review kind of crucial, and if it doesn't go her way then this party needs to scramble to find somebody who can lead it in the next election."
Blidook said Michael will need at least two of every three New Democrat delegates to support her, but added that doesn't guarantee she will be able to hold on to the leadership.
In 1983, former federal Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark got 67 per cent support in a confidence motion, and he resigned shortly thereafter.
Blidook said it wouldn't look good if Michael stayed on as leader with two-thirds' support.
"A lot of the events as they've gone on suggest to me there is a deep problem now in the party. Maybe they were masking it pretty well before but it's obviously there, and if I were a betting man I would be hands-off on this one," he said.
"It just is not clear this is going to go one way or the other."
Mitchelmore, Kirby will have vote
Geoff Gallant, associate president of the party executive, said recent events led him to believe that a leadership review was the best course of action for the party.
"I think the best way out of this is actually for us to listen, and we need to listen to our membership and to the public. So if people want a leadership convention, they're going to have their opportunity to express that to us and we'll make it happen if need be," Gallant said.
"I can't comment specifically on numbers right now, but I think it's clear that we need to listen and we're going to need a leader with a very strong mandate going into 2015."
MHAs Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore announced on Tuesday they were leaving the NDP caucus to sit as independents in the house of assembly.
But Gallant said the two are still standing members with the party, and will have a vote at the convention in May.
In an earlier version of this report, political scientist Kelly Blidook was mistakenly quoted as saying that Lorraine Michael would need a convention vote in the high 70s to avoid a leadership race. The attribution should have said the 70s.Oct 31, 2013 1:31 PM NT