How can the Green Party of Canada co-ordinate Air War and Ground War?

Dan Grice Effectively Targeted Conservative support

Dan Grice Effectively Targeted Conservative support

In some prior posts, I blogged about just how weak and ineffective the GPC’s attack on the Conservative Party was in the 2008 general election. The basic fact is that in electoral politics, if you want to attack a Party, you do so by appealing to their supporters with a message that strongly resonates, and will draw them away from their allegiance. The heightened rhetoric coming from the GPC in 2008 was counterproductive if the objective was to actually hurt the CPC. By castigating Stephen Harper in such strong language, we gave no reason for softer supporters of the Conservatives to reconsider their position, and entrust their votes to the Green Party.

I am going to make a bold assumption about the GPC’s national campaign theme, and message for the upcoming general election. Federal Council has apparently decided that there is only one overriding objective in the upcoming election, that being to elect Elizabeth May. It is becoming equally obvious that the intention is to achieve this feat by unseating Gary Lunn in SGI. Hopefully, it’s become clear to the FCC that the only way to achieve this result is to directly target, and win over Conservative voters in  SGI. If the national campaign is actually going to be delivering a (partly) Conservative friendly message, then there are quite a number of campaigns in Canada who will have a great opportunity which they should be ready to capitalise on.

Yes, there are Liberal and NDP voters who could, and should be targetted everywhere. After all, these voters are much more inclined to vote Green, and in many ridings will represent the low hanging fruit. I will guess that Ignatieff’s rejection of Dion’s Green Tax Shift, and unequivocal promotion of the Tar Sands, will give a small, but significant opportunity for us to target Liberal voters. There are places though where the local Campaign will need to focus on small c Conservative voters. I’m thinking about the obvious candidates like Bruce Grey Owen Sound, or SGI, or pretty well any riding in Alberta. I would go so far as to argue that Alberta, (and Quebec), should be planning a regional campaign, with a dramatically different theme than the rest of Canada. Any riding in Canada that has concentrated pockets of Conservative voters should have an opportunity to crack the CPC vote open a little bit, without having to expend huge resources on it.

If the ‘Air War’ is in fact going to be broadcasting a message targeting conservatives, then this will present an opportunity for most EDA’s to expand their vote in previously barren grounds. I recently commented on the GPC blogs regarding targeting the CPC vote. Dan Grice, the GPC Candidate for Vancouver Quadra responded with a link to a campaign flyer they developed to target Conservative held polls in his riding. Anecdotally, he claimed a great response, including a big bounce in the vote in those polls, and plenty of sign requests. I ask you to consider, if your campaign were to do a flyer drop into strongly Conservative polls, while at the same time the national Campaign was emphasising the same, or very similar messages over the airwaves, would this not be a very effective tool for winning support?

Co-ordinating the ground war, and the air war are pretty important in my opinion. The National Campaign will undoubtedly have a 36 day plan, with key messages, and announcements planned for maximum impact. The timing of the Air War, and some of the content will undoubtedly be a closely guarded secret. That’s all very well and good, but the secrecy must be tempered by the need for local Campaigns to plan their efforts to coincide with the national Campaign. If, for example, a major media event is planned for the leader, and if, for example, the message for this event is conservative friendly, then the local Campaigns should have the opportunity to capitalise on the exposure. They might want to print flyers, issue press releases, revise and re-target their telephone and foot canvas, in order to take advantage of the exposure the Air War has generated, and reinforce it where it will do the most good.

A very well planned National Campaign would be ready to help make this one-two punch possible. By developing a sound, and targeted message. By targeting effectively, and then developing the collateral (flyers, press release templates, subsidy for EDA’s to do targeted mailshots, etc), they will empower the local Campaigns to take advantage. Above all, by having a well planned, and resourced internal communications strategy, they will be able to co-ordinate the timing, and ensure that the right information and material gets into the right hands with enough time to act on it. All the planning in the world is wasted if  there are no people in place to make the phone calls, order and deliver flyer print runs, and make sure that the plan gets implemented. Conversely, if the National Campaign feels they don’t have the resources (people), to co-ordinate release dates like a well oiled machine, then the decision should be to lift the veil of secrecy somewhat. It would be essential to allow the local campaigns to plan for themselves how to wring the maximum benefit from the planned ‘Air War’. It’s far more important that our own campaigns are able  to capitalise, than it is to prevent our Opposition from finding out what we’re up to.

Many local campaigns won`t really have the people to divert from their ID – GOTV canvas to start doing big flyer drops in short 1 or 2 day windows of opportunity. Here is a simple model for the National Campaign, and the local campaigns to consider. Research the theme and message centrally, and test with public polls to ensure that the theme resonates with, and will convert the target demographic. Purchase the broad form census results from Statistics Canada, and use geospatial mapping tools to map the target demographic onto poll maps. When the time is right, release the poll maps to the local campaigns, with suggested targets clearly outlined. Integrate this data into Grimes database, so that the local campaign can target the appropriate voters. The local campaign can then go to Canada Posts` unaddressed, or addressed admail site, and have Canada Post deliver the appropriate flyer to the target postal walks. Canada Post makes it pretty easy to target unaddressed admail by postal walks, (the last three digits in the postal code). The costs of delivery can be reduced to below $0.12 per piece, if the National Campaign were to negotiate contract rates on our behalf. If you assume printing costs of around $0.07 per piece, then you could deliver 10,000 pieces, to a well targeted audience, at a cost of about $2,000. I know that `junk mail` is a little, (lot), controversial, but the fact remains that it is a cheap and effective way to get a whole lot of literature on target in a hurry.

It should be obvious to all that this methodology should be the same no matter who our target audience is. While I am argueing here that the message will most likely be directed at conservative voters, this is how the National Campaign should be operating whosoever the campaign theme targets.

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26 Responses

  1. I will guess that Ignatieff’s rejection of Dion’s Green Tax Shift, and unequivocal promotion of the Tar Sands, will give a small, but significant opportunity for us to target Liberal voters. There are places though where the local Campaign will need to focus on small c Conservative voters.

    I know this appears to be a common talking point amongst Greens, but, can you provide me specific examples how the GPC policies would differ on the oil/tar sands?

    I seem to recall Iggy suggesting that the oil/tar sands need to be developed in a more sustainable way – environmentally principally. So, how can you suggest he is unequivocably promoting them?

    Furthermore, a moratorium on develeopment is provincial jurisdiction – they control the pace of development. So how is a GPC policy on a moratorium (if that is what you are advocating) even realistic?

    One note- Iggy was the first person in the Liberal Party who suggested a carbon tax as a leadership candidate- well before Dion was a player, and he rec’d a great deal of criticism as a result. I believe he is suggesting the abysmal effort by the Dion Libs/E May in the last election puts it on the back burner for now.

    if you’re going to target Liberal/PC’s you’d better have an ironclad defensible position on it. These aren’t.

    Care to elaborate?

    • I know perfectly well that Iggy was an early adopter of Green party policy. It started in the 2005-6 election campaign. I was there (As Campaign Manager), at an all candidates debate at John English School when he was picking the GPC candidates brain on the Green Tax Shift. It was actually pretty surprising because in the minutes leading up to his first media appearance, rather than preparing, he was talking environmental policy with his opponents. That was, of course, before Smith et al captured the full attention of their candidate. I guess he didn’t understand yet that policy is spoon fed by the War Room.
      As far as policy goes, I suggest you trot along to the GPC website, because my interest in policy, at least for the purposes of this blog, is how it impacts electoral politics, and as an element of election platforms.
      Just as an aside, I have noticed that the less iron clad, and the more fluff in a policy statement, the more readily defended it becomes during a campaign. ;-(
      P.S., I am assuming that you referred to the oil/tar sands for a reason? I certainly do know who has spent many millions of dollars trying to re-brand the Tar Sands as oil sands, and why they have done so. Tar Sands, which is how they were described since I first heard of them in the 1970’s, sound dirty, and everybody knows that they are nasty and dirty. Oil Sands however, are something new, and by pressing the reset button, the hope is to shed any dirty associations. In the interests of full disclosure, is there perhaps something about your’ interest in this issue that you would like to share with us? Sorry to yank your chain that way, but I’m surprised to see the expression used outside of a CPC press release.

  2. Sorry to yank your chain that way, but I’m surprised to see the expression used outside of a CPC press release.

    Yes, there’s a reason why the words should be interchangeable. Because that’s how/what they are described as in the press, and amongst many of the people whom you wish to win over.

    Do you read any national newspapers, say the G&M for example? I know E M covets every opportunity she gets to appear there. Here’s an experiment you should try. Go to their website and type in oil sands. Oh, here I’ve done it for you already:

    Now, count. How many of them are the result of a CPC press releases?

    By rigidly sticking to tar sands – yes, you are making a point. But only reinforcing the views of the existing greens, and those to the far left end of the spectrum – activists and NDPers. In other words, you are demonstrating to potential new green voters that you are dogmatic, and occupying that space where you don’t really understand the issues.

    And btw, did you happen to read the G&M series on the oil sands January 2008? It was 10 days running, I believe. All about the environmental, social, and economic costs of its rapid exploitation. I knew about it before it went to press. I wonder how and why?

    Sorry, BGB, but you have apparently yanked your own chain, badly.

    • OMG! You’re so right! I have completely scored an own goal! I must now go and hang my head in shame. I will read 100 pages of GPC policy in pennance, and perhaps my maker will forgive my sins. I used the words Tar Sands, which is not at all au courant. They are now the new and improved oil sands. I guess I have unwittingly revealed my artfully concealed left wing revolutionary ideology. How dare I use antiquated terms, especially since those paragons of virtue at the Globe and Mail have decided it`s too, well, pinko to say `Tar Sands`.

  3. Pretty basic stuff, frankly, for someone who claims he has a marketing background, and writes a blog about targeting Libs and PCs. And then takes me to task for using both versions

    What do you market ? Did you luck out and get promoted to the ketchup division at Heinz?

  4. Oooh, touche.

  5. No wonder the Quebec Greens feel disillusioned. It’s spelled touché .

    • Yeah, I know. For some reason I cannot use either accent`s, or question marks when I comment on the wordpress blog. It`s pretty irritating to have only intermittent question marks. The posts are OK, it`s only the comments.

  6. And the award for “biggest douchebag Green blog commenter” goes to … SIR!

    And as you all know, there’s tough competition in that category.

  7. And the award for “biggest douchebag Green blog commenter” goes to … SIR!

    And as you all know, there’s tough competition in that category.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  8. Yeah, that’ll win a lot of converts. Brilliant!

  9. I think BGB deserves to be commended for the professional and positive way in which he has taken criticism on this blog. Kudos to you, it’s sorely missed in many other blogs and posts.

    I like what you wrote and generally agree with you, but it appears that it won’t be that way. The communications campaign air war will be national in flavour, and not targetted. It will be a big-tent approach that covers three very national and widespread issues, not targetted ones. While it may bring more national attention to the campaign for media May, unfortunately for the GPC leadership, that might come at the cost of losing SGI.

  10. Thanks Mark, I sometimes have to stop, erase my response, and remember to try and treat others with respect. Sometimes, as with SIR, I cannot resist a little dig at them. I almost always regret it, because people stop reading what you write, and start filtering for stuff to argue about. Not at all why I blog.
    I kind of had an idea about three themes, and what they might be, but that oughtn’t stop me from highlighting the way a Campaign should be planned. (IMO).
    There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so maybe they’ll do some good work with the national media thingy. At the least, maybe somebody will notice that the local campaigns should at least have a clue what’s on the schedule.
    Speaking of skinning cats, I once used that metaphor when discussing leadership politics with a small group of wiccans, and vegans at a Jim Harris BBQ. Wrong metaphor right? I realised it when I saw the shocked looks on faces, so what was my immediate correction? ‘What I mean to say is that we can kill two birds with one stone’. Thanks god some of them knew me, and I was able to laugh it off, (with a very red face). Communications can be tough, at every level.

  11. Well, if I could just weigh in on this handling criticism well. My original post was questioniong statements of fact and policies of the GPC or bloggers. The reply I get is an inference that I am somehow associated with the CPC and I have an agenda. I find that inference unwarranted, and not at all in the context and tone of my original comment.

    Btw, I’m not sure what the passive agressive partisan non partisan was referring to. If it was the ketchup reference, let me tell you a true story. A friend of mine who was a lawyer went back and got his Western MBA some time ago (I hesitate to make reference to that type of degree because it seemed to trigger unwarrnated comments about the Lib SGI candidate on another blog from a sef admitted “SOB”). He then got a job in Marlketing at Heinz. A mutual friend of ours told me that over beers, the Heinz guy said that he was working hard to make it into ketchup, because that’s where all the action was.

    You guys need to lighten up. You say something slightly critical and Dave B. gets all sulky and accusatory, John O. tries to have my comments banned, BGB accuses me of being a CPC mole, and mr split personality calls me a douchebag.

    Try using some wit and intelligent arguments to win people over – not this circle the wagons approach. And yes, I also have similar qualifications.

  12. Actually SIR, you are a prolific commentator, I’ve seen your’ moniker hither and yon. I really was asking, ‘who are you?’ (See, the question mark worked this time. Go figure.)
    I do have policy reasons for being involved in the GPC, but I don’t really get into it in my blog, because if my purpose is to influence the GPC towards running more professional campaigns, then talking policy will lead to many people ignoring my advice because they will slot me into a policy pigeonhole. It’s not because I don’t care, it’s because it’s counterproductive.

  13. Well, the point is communicating a message. if the message can easily be proven to be demostrably wrong, then your communications strategy will ultimately fail.

    Btw, I see someone else over on Report on greens picked up on messaging. They wrote: “Here’s a clue, the term neo-con immediately indicates a knee-jerk left-winger. Communications (or reality) 101.” Exactly. When you have true neo-cons like Terrence Corcoran of the National Post climing that Harper is governing more liberally than a Liberal, and more moderates like Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells of Macleans saying the same thing, where does that place the E may/GPC message on the credibility spectrum? Right off the left end.

    Anyhow, I do enjoy your and Marks’s blogs, they seem well thought out, but they are not immune to constructive criticism, which sometimes can be difficult when it appears the positions are entrenched, and widely held (wrongly).

  14. No SIR I don’t “get all sulky and accusatory” I just ask why you feel you need to try and insult and demean with your comments. Also I like to point out that almost always your claims are without merit.

  15. Or to put it another way debunking SIR’s bullshit is a lot of fun!

  16. And SIR continues to prove my assertion that he’s a douche!

  17. Can’t you two find a sandbox somewhere?

  18. Since you appear to be censoring, another example of the difference between activist NGOs (which Reguly was calling to arms above) and political discourse, this one in a Conservative paper’s editorial on the oil sands

  19. My apologies – must be too many links in my post – I’ll try breaking it in two:

    I posted this in the comments section of Report on Greens but I thought I would cross post it here, regarding our “discussion” over oil sands vs tar sands.

    This is part of an interview on CBC T.O. Metro Morning with Andie Barrie the Friday before the 2006 election. I recorded it and posted it on YouTube. Notice his guest’s choice of wording (Canada bureau of the NY Times).

  20. had also sent it to a number of journalists to try and get them to start reporting on environmental / oil sands related issues.

    Coincidently, an Eric Reguly ROB magazine column on the ineffectiveness of environmental groups (originally published 2006) – note the opening paragraph and reference to above. Many business/right leaning people read the G&M Report on Business. Reguly was their top columnist (he’s now in Italy)

    Both documents were sent to E May at the Sierra Club (prior to her entering politics) suggesting the latter be distributed to other ENGOs in Canada as a basis of discussion. I noted that the following month’s ROB magazine had a number of published responses from a number of key individuals from that community weighing in on the subject.

  21. Gee BGB, you haven’t provided the blogosphere anything to mull over for a while.

    • It’s been hard this fall. Kids back to school, (and monopolising my computer), my work gets very busy at this time of year, and there hasn’t been that much of interest to me to blog about. Got one up though, hopefully a little more regular from now on.

  22. Darn! I wish Marlo Raynolds would get with the environmental program! :)

    EDMONTON — The new U.S. ambassador to Canada sat down for breakfast Monday with a conservation group and Alberta’s oilsands were on the menu.

    Ambassador David Jacobson requested the meeting to get the Pembina Institute’s views on the massive energy development’s environmental implications, said executive director Marlo Raynolds.

    Raynolds said he told Jacobson no further projects should be approved until limits are set on the environmental affects on water, land and climate.

    “He (Jacobson) is very actively reaching out to really understand and learn as much as he can,” Raynolds said.

    “In no way did I get an impression that he has formulated a position on the oilsands. I think he is really open to understanding all of the perspectives about the pros and the cons of the oilsands…”Our key message was we feel that there is a level of oilsands that can be developed responsibly,” he said. “At this stage we need to pause with respect to further approvals of new projects.”.”

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