Great News for the Green Party: Campaign Plan in the offing?

logo_torontostarThanks to Ken Summers for pointing me at this Toronto Star article. Is it too much to hope that the Green Party is going to do something waaaay more sophisticated than past practice? I hope I’m not reading the tea leaves badly, but it could be that this blog, and some other constructive criticism around the ‘corridors of power’, (OK, around the campfire  of power), are having an impact.

First off, it’s official, and public. The Green Party is focusing on the obvious potential ridings as target ridings for the leader to run in.

“The party is polling and testing the ground, in an unprecedented way, May said, in ridings such as Guelph, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, and Saanich-Gulf Islands, where the Greens did well last year.” CCMV is also a target riding, according to the Star article. What really grabbed my attention was the enigmatic comment about polling and testing the ground in an unprecedented way. I have posted quite a few times regarding target ridings, how to target your demographic, and how to organise on the ground. I have often stressed that the purpose of opinion polls for our needs is to identify issues, and the target audience that is susceptible to our message on the issues. Polling should be used to hone, and fine tune the message. It’s not enough to think you’ve got the message that will win over a specific group of voters. You need to test the targets, test your issues, then test the specific message, and campaign theme. Could it be that this is what she is referring to?

Why is it so important? Because when you have collected the right data, and use that data to inform your decision making, then you will make much better decisions. I have posted before that BGOS is a tough riding to win in, because it will entail a frontal assault of the Conservative vote. Given straight data on what messages will shift which people, this becomes so much more plausible. I could be completely wrong in my assumptions. It could be that conservative voters are the low hanging fruit, and that a Green Party message of fiscal conservatism is a Conservative killer, that will sweep Owen Sound before it. I sure hope so!

I’m going to make the assumption that this is the kind of polling being done. I know that there are competent people in the Green Party of Canada who will know what to do with this data. Rob Rischinski, several times candidate for Parkdale-High Park is a Geographer with Statistics Canada. There are any number of actuaries, and knowledgeable people like Michael Moreau as well. With the purchase of the National census results, it will be relatively easy to hold the key to the best possible electoral outcome for the Green Party in the next election. By feeding the results of the issues based polling back into the national population, we can build up a broader list of second tier target ridings. These will be the ridings that don’t neccesarily have the organisation on the ground to win right away, but that will respond most positively to the campaign theme and message. Depending upon the national strategy, these ridings can be given a little special attention, because they will be the places where the best results will be garnered from the specific policy prescriptions and message developed during strategy formulation. In fact, every riding in Canada could benefit from this analysis. It will take a lot of preperation work, but those same statisticians, and geographers working on riding analysis could just as readily find target polls, and provide maps to help every riding in Canada identify the polls where the national campaign will have the most resonance, and impact. The local campaigns can then focus their canvas, signs, flyer drops, etc. on the specific populations that are most responsive to our message.

Other things remaining equal, I believe that this approach will yield at least a 2% increase in our vote on eday. That increase will be concentrated in ridings where there is already a basic organisation that is capable of implementing a coherent campaign plan. I can assure my readers that there will be a whole lot more target ridings to be assessing when the preperations for a subsequent general election are under way.

I hope that I haven’t read too much into these chance comments of Elizabeth May’s. I hope that this is indeed what is going on. However, if the GPC is in fact conducting this most excellent research, then the next Federal Election will be the most important Party building exercise since the 2004 election. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, and keep on blogging!

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for putting your thoughts out there like that, it was an interesting read.

  2. Thank you for the complement, BGB. I too am gaining confidence in the strategy and sense that the party is beginning to engage its local organizers a little more and to engage with data.

    Regardless of where May goes, however, I am still a sceptic that Central Nova wasn’t a good choice. It is easy to argue that she shouldn’t have run there since she lost. But, that makes a bold assumption: she would have won in the most stastically Green location. My gut reaction is that this is a gut reaction!

    But, perhaps the most important thing for us local organizers to remember is that we need to get our game on locally and get organized at the EDA level because no one is going to do it for us.

  3. I’m in rural Nova Scotia and know the ground pretty well, and I said THEN it was a lousy choice for her. I also itemized why, and it was all borne out.

    And I’m going to throw cold water on whether this announcement shows any change. While I am prejudiced, I think I can also claim to be level headed.

    Because May said this is an unprecedented gathering of data does not make it true, or looking at the veracity of her past announcements like this, there may be no more than a shred of truth to it.

    I think its safe to say that Central Nova is now out- about $300,000 later. But I think there is no way of knowing whether she will choose the riding with her best chance at winning, or one that is ‘good enough’ and once again fits best where she WANTS to run [or who she does not run against: a Liberal incumbent or strong candidate].

    I also think its wishful thinking to EXPECT she is going to more engage local organizers. She likely will, by dint of the fact that some of you will be where she plops down- compared to her choice of landing in Central Nova where everyone came in her wake. But I still wouldn’t EXPECT that you will be engaged in anything resembling a two way manner. She and the people around her are going to have to do some very quick and steep learning for that to happen.

    All that said, anything you get is better than her having decided to stay in Central Nova.

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