Elections Canada has some serious evidence this time: Things are looking VERY grim for Conservative Del Mastro

Oh boy, the timing could not have been better if M&M planned it. I posted a couple of days ago when the first M&M article was released, telling us that Del Mastro was being investigated for overspending, with a copy of a personal cheque he wrote to cover election expenses. The story lies in the fact that he failed to report those particular expenses to Elections Canada, OR to his auditor, since his public audited statements do not include it. Del Mastro immediately went into gear. He loudly proclaimed his innocence, and spent today castigating Elections Canada for not talking to him first. (Is he serious? He was audited, and presumably if he did not explain it to his auditor then he is already guilty of a serious offense. Should they call him up to explain why he was not telling the truth? On an audit? When the penalty could stretch to a 5 year jail term?)

Today, M&M dropped the hammer on Del Mastro. The follow up article claims that Elections Canada has telephone logs that list the exact phone calls, with dates and times, and guess what? It all happened during the campaign period, and the scripts used were for the election campaign, not other work. It is almost a shame that M&M could not wait for a day or two. You see, Del Mastro was about to replay the robocall defense, and publicly pull out the `proof` that he has been preparing that he has all the paperwork in order, with supporting invoices etc. That would have looked even worse, but there it is, and here we are.

I am tempted to feel sorry for Del Mastro. He may be on his way to being the first MP to ever go to jail for falsifying his spending records, and what doubt remains that he exceeded his spending limits is fading fast. Obviously I do not know for sure if the evidence is real, and the courts will decide that, but this is very important for all of us. Finally, somebody is going to pay the ultimate political price, and electoral laws will not be quite so laughable anymore. He will pretty well have to resign now, and the fact that there is likely to be a prosecution will make a lot of politicians take a steop or two back and wonder if it is so smart to mock the Elections Finance Act after all.  It looks like there may soon be another by-election in Peterborough to go with Etobicoke Centre. My advice to Harper, lump them both together, and take your medicine in one gulp. Gonna lose them both, so change the channel as quick as you can.

Smoking Gun on yet another potential CPC breach of the Elections Finance Act.

Nearly broke a major story

I really really enjoy reading the Hill Times. It is informative, and I have learned much about how Parliament, and indeed politics works in Canada through their site. I just read an article there about some very aggressive Conservative Party activities, which I believe may constitute a breach of the Elections Act, and should be investigated.

The crux of the story is about how a number of very rich Conservative Party EDA’s (Electoral District Associations), channelled significant resources towards swing ridings in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. So far so good. There’s nothing wrong with transferring a pot of money to a ‘poor relation’. It makes a lot of sense for the CPC to ensure that every EDA where they have a chance gets every penny they can legally spend, and then go about spening it to win their local contest. The money gets properly recorded by the recipient, whose financial agent carefully records and reports the spending, and the spending limit is approached, but not quite exceeded. The really meaty bit of the story wasn`t picked up on by Tim Naumetz, the author. I feel kind of sorry for him, because he could have had a really great story here. It`s not too late for him though.

So here`s the smoking gun:

“Prime Minister Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) riding association, along with those of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Alta.) and Conservative MP Rob Anders (Calgary West, Alta.) in Calgary, also set up massive phone banks with hundreds of volunteers in an attempt to sway voters in swing ridings in central Canada, Mr. Anders and his former riding association president say.”

Do you respond, ‘Big Deal’? Well, it almost certainly IS a big deal if the facts line up the way I suspect. First off, these massive phone banks, with hundreds of volunteers cost money to set up. Actually, quite a lot of money. Even if every volunteer is on a crappy old computer, with VOIP service, the computer has to be recorded on the campaign books at the cost to purchase it. Then there’s the costs per call. Then there’s the proportion of campaign office expenses dedicated to NON-LOCAL election expenses. I had the opportunity to study Accounting as part of my MBA program. I’ve also been a businessman for several decades, so basic accounting principles are not strange turf to me. Based on the principle of materiality, if some casual calls were made, that amounted to a few dollars being spent in the wrong place, because the amount is insignificant, no true breach of anything has occurred. That’s why, if you expense a cup of coffee that wasn’t actually business related, you aren’t guilty of anything inappropriate. You are only guilty of something if you systematically went about expensing thousands of cups of coffee, because at some point the error becomes a material breach. Do you see where I am going here yet?

I see at least 3 potential breaches of the act that will require investigation by EC auditors.

First problem: Did Rob Anders, Steven Harper, and Jason Kenney file for, and recieve a 60% rebate on these local election expenses? If so, they should give the damned money back, at a minimum, because these were clearly NOT local election expenses, and thus do not qualify. This is the flip side of the in-and-out scheme wherby the CPC appeared to bilk taxpayers out of large sums of money. The CPC allegedly took advantage of poor language in the act to create local expenses in ridings where the spending limit would not be reached by the local campaign. That way, the Party could spend money above and beyond the legally mandated national elections expense limit, and the local EDA’s that participated would receive a 60% bonus on the backs of the taxpayers. Based on Rob Anders quote, the very purpose of these phone banks was to direct resources at other electoral districts, and I am betting that the $ amounts were non-trivial.

Second Problem: In which of the ridings targetted in this way did the local campaign spend right up to the legally mandated maximum? Let us make a guess, and say that $40,000 worth of phone bank was equally divided up between 10 out-of-riding campaigns. That works out to $4,000 per recipient riding. I will guess that this would put at least half of the recipients over their legal spending limit. What, I wonder, are the penalties for buying an election?

Third Problem: The spending was either authorised by the Financial Agent for the recipient campaign, or it was illegal. That’s it, plain and simple. If the recipient were unwitting, which is theoretically possible, then the offense was committed by the donor campaign. Hey, wait a minute! That was our beloved Prime Minister’s campaign wasn’t it? Third Party advertising rules could apply if the donor wasn’t a political campaign, but the donors were, so that’s not much of an escape hatch. The Financial Agents for the donor campaign may already be on the hook for claiming the rebate, but there are a bunch of counterparties to be called to account too.

I know that many would say it`s too hard to quantify, and that allocating the funds will be impossible. Well, I`m happy to say that any CA, or CMA can easily conduct the audits that will NAIL the contributors to the wall. Whether the phone banks were voip, or landlines, or whatever, there will be electronic records of exactly which phone calls were made to where. Once it`s established how much of the office spaces, and expense were dedicated to these non-local campaigns, it will be a simple matter to allocate the spending proportionally to the recipients. They will argue like hell in the courts, over a few hundreds of dollars, but the basic facts will be inescapable.

There are many twists and turns that add interest to this story. There is the fact that EC ‘lost’ their chief the last time EC tried to challenge this kind of sleazy shafting of the taxpayer, and manipulation of the Elctions Act. (In-and-Out scandal, appropriately so named because the appearance that the taxpayers were screwed). There is the fact that the CPC so very loudly screamed and hollered about the clear and transparent per vote subsidy, whilst at the same time they manipulated and schemed to screw the taxpayers wholesale with these kind of sleight of hand tricks. And then there’s the interesting fact that even when caught overspending, nobody ever seems to lose their seat over it. I mean, w.t.f. is the point of spending limits, and a finance act if Rob Anders can publicly crow about it? Has the culture of corruption spread so far, and so quickly that the CPC believes they are immune to the law?

Anyhow, I suggest that, like myself, you get on the phone to elections Canada, and ask them if they are going to dare to beard their Tory masters? I feel sorry for EC if they actually attempt to enforce the law. They are legally bound to try, but oh the consequences! More careers will be abruptly terminated, and obviously the CPC will immediately sue them. Still, we must use the tools at our disposal, or else the contempt of our political masters for the law will remain unchecked, and these kinds of sleazy practices will continue to be rewarded by electoral success.

Authors note: I just made a few judicious edits. A little heavy on the hyperbole, as I was all steamed up. Sorry if it morphed into something a little softer.

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More detailed analysis of the relationship between spending and the Green Party of Canada vote.

In March, I published a post on the correlation between campaign spending and vote outcomes for the Green Party of Canada. I gathered together the Green Party of Canada Campaign spending data and votes results for 102 Ontario Ridings. Recently, Michael Moreau, a Green Party activist from Winnipeg commented on my basic correlation numbers, and pointed out that correlation is a poor analytic tool by itself. Since Mike is a mathematician, and knows what he’s doing, I sent him the raw data I compiled, and he produced some very interesting analysis. Mike’s blog is the Don Street Blog. What follows here is paraphrased from his reply to me, with some judicous cropping and editing.

 Mike ran a non-linear and linear regression analysis of the 102 ridings for which we have data. The non-linear graph tells us that there may be differing sensitivity of vote% gain to extra dollars – that in fact an extra $1 is worth more for the smallest of campaigns. However, there is little correlation improvement between the non-linear and linear, so we can use the linear model.

All reported Ontario campaigns: Linear

All reported Ontario campaigns: Linear

 

The linear model of the 102 reported ridings is the most important graph. It tells us that there is a massive correlation between the two variables. In fact, given a degree of freedom of 100, we can be more than 99.999% certain of the correlation existing! Now, the regression line tells us a lot, too. It predicts that for every $1000 in increased spending, we will get 0.1836% more vote total. In other words, it predicts that we will gain 18.36% over a base total by spending $100,000 in the riding. Unfortunately, at some max $100,000 in spending, the model predicts only 24% of the vote share for the Greens in an average riding. That means that at base support levels in 2008 for the GPC, no Green could be elected by only pumping in money. But, the money gets us closer.

Under $5,000 spending

Under $5,000 spending

Now, the other graphs zoom in on certain money ranges and tell us that the relationship between spending and vote% is fairly consistent at any level. The lowest range ($0-$5000 in spending) is a bit of a dog’s breakfast, though, since there are so many other factors at play in those locations. There is some evidence that extra dollars at that level are more effective – but not too much evidence. We cannot be statistically certain that an extra dollar spent is more effective in a riding with little money versus in a riding with more money – just that a dollar is effective. In other words, we can’t say that the GPC should funnel money to smaller EDAs to help kick-start their campaigns – but, we suspect that this is money is more efficient in those ridings than in the ridings with $40,000 already in play.

 

Finally, there is a 95% confidence interval to deal with. No one much cares about this at this stage, but for $10,000 spending in a randomly selected GPC

Ontario Over $5,000 spent

Ontario Over $5,000 spent

race in Ontario in 2008, the model predicts that vote total would be 7.723% plus or minus about 4%. That is to say that we can be 95% confident that with $10,000 spent, you would receive between 3.7% and 11.7% of the vote share. Such a wide range reflects the fact that there are many other factors at play. So, using the regression analysis to predict a vote share result entirely based on spending is faulty. However, we can say for certain that increased dollars equals increased vote % in a particular riding – and $10,000 gives us 1.836% more vote share.

 

STRATEGICALLY:

 

If the goal of GPC is to increase vote share overall, money can be sent anywhere, but we suspect (and have a little evidence) that “seed money” in small ridings can be the best use of resources. This money should only go to ridings where there is someone organized enough to spend it effectively and efficiently, though.

 

If the goal of the GPC is to gain “beach-heads”, then GPC should fully fund EDA’s where the Greens have a solid base of support, many volunteers, and a credible candidate. However, there should be some caution here. Only 4 green campaigns spent more than $42,000 in 2008, so we cannot be certain that the linear relationship between vote share and spending continues at higher spending levels. There could be any number of results.

Finally, regardless of the strategy, money should only be sent to ridings which meet certain criteria for federal funds. Those criteria should include – but not be limited to – number of members, vote gap between green vote and riding winner, organized EDA, evidence of past effective use of funds, and intangibles such as the candidate nominated.

This ends the first in (hopefully) a series of data crunchings from GPC Ontario 2008 and Canada 2008.  

The above is largely Michael’s analysis. The conclusions are his, and are certainly subject to discussion. The Data is what it is, and at least subsequent discussion will be based on honest to goodness data, instead of conjecture, and plausible but untested intuition and opinion. I for one will be revisting my past conclusions about beachhead vs. rising tide national strategy. I think that more than ever our strategy needs to be more sophisticated, looking at both rising tide, and targetted efforts. The better we can understand both the limitations, and opportunities that face us, the better decisions we may make in the runup to the coming election.

UPDATE JUNE 23: Alice Funke at “The Pundit’s Guide” published a post on the relationship between spending and voter outcomes last month. For those of my readers who are involved in planning the next GPC campaign, they should read this post, and draw the appropriate conclusions regarding the likelihood of NOT earning a financial return on a rising tide strategy. (There are some good reasons to broaden the target, but nort broaden it to 308 target ridings.)

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Green Party of Canada Voter ID database

Distributed Data Natwork

Distributed Data Network

I read a very encouraging article today on greenpartystrategy.com, about a greenparty hosted database called GRIMES. the purpose of this database is to provide access to voters lists and the contact information to any green party volunteer with a computer and internet connections. This is potentially an excellent tool to mobilize volunteers to ID the vote from wherever they happen to be.

According to Darcy Kraus,  GOTV coordinator Guelph 2008, GRIMES is a much quicker and more effective tool then the CIVICrm application that was supposed to perform this task in the past.  As he correctly pointed out, in this age of  VOIP service any number of volunteers located anywhere in the world can be targeted on any strategic riding, or list. I particularly like the feature whereby the database presents one contact at a time, which preserves data security.

Having managed a number of ID-GOTV efforts in the past, I have a few suggestions about what lookup, or search capabilities a hosted database should have. I will apologize in advance because I am not familiar with GRIMES’s back end, so some  of this functionality may already be there. The obvious is search by poll number. A second is search by street name.

Search by street name? This speaks to the need for a sign canvas directed at arterial roads and high visibility locations. Another very powerful fuctionality would be the ability to search for ethnic specific names and letter groups that can then be reviewed and tagged for the appropriate mother tongue canvas. For example any surnames with a cz in them are likely to be Polish. Your’ Polish speaking volunteers can visually scan a list of cz names and tag them by ethnicity and mother tongue for the subsequent Polish language canvas. There should also be a field that captures ethnicity/religion to tag, for example Muslim voters, because it can reasonably be assumed that a targeted message could be affective with different sub sets of the electorate. It is reasonable to assume that anybody with a name that is some variant of mohammed is a muslim. Anybody with ‘polous’, as a character group in their surname is pretty obviously Greek. You get the picture I’m sure. Look at your own ethnic background, and you’ll think of a number of ways to search large database, and find people of the same ethnicity as yourself.

There should also be a drop down field, with pre-formatted descriptions of a handful of key issues that may be relevant to the particular voter being canvassed. The value of this for subsequent follow up with soft supporters, or undecided voters should be obvious. Armed with this knowledge, the Candidate can blast through a list of undecideds, and leaning Green/Lib/CPC voters with the most compelling 30 second ‘pitch’ on this issue and win over a lot of votes. Incidentally, this is an extremely good use of the candidates time. An hour or two by the Candidate on the phone every day, converting soft, and undecideds will be a great use of the data, and will reap definite rewards at the advance, and regular polls.

I mentioned soft supporters, and Green/Liberal/Conservative etc. supporters above. The existing layout of Grimes has ‘Strong Green’, ‘Weak Green’, ‘Undecided’, ‘Weak opposition’, etc. This is not discriminating enough. There should be two drop down lists, encompassing strength of support, and Party of support. The first should be ‘Strong’, ‘Leaning’, ‘Undecided’, while the second should record ‘Green’, ‘Liberal’, ‘Conservative’, ‘NDP’, ‘Other’, and ‘Undecided’. The types of uses for this far more discriminating data are varied. Even if the local campaign doesn’t have the knowledge or skills to work this data effectively, the central Party could oh-so-easily make hay out of it. The local Candidates phone canvas should regularly target the undecideds, and leaning towards, and weak supporters and work on them. They are worth the effort, because the whole campaign has been filtering out these targets from the general population, and it is for this that a personal contact with the candidate is very effective indeed. BTW, the Candidate should never waste her/his time on strong opposition supporters. There are plenty of soft oppo’s to convert, so why get into long arguments with totally unlikely targets?

Nationally, the GPC could take on the task of broadcasting targeted messages to the various supporters of the other Party’s. For example, if the Liberal Party campaign should badly stumble mid-campaign, and take it in the neck over bad communication over a wedge issue, it’s time to leap into action. The central Party could  then fund demon dialling machines, and recorded messages ( at pennies per call), which would specifically address this issue. They could deliver the Green message most likely to resonate with these supporters, and invite them to the website, or to; ‘Press 1 to talk to a Green Part rep.’

There is another potential use of the other Party’s ID’d supporters. I know it stinks. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but a well worn tactic for winning the election in a tightly contested riding is to suppress the turnout of the other contender(s). If I were the Campaign manager of a GPC Campaign that was really really close to winning the seat, then I would earn my pay by considering every option. That includes opposition research, in depth, of the other Candidates. Most of the time, the oppo. candidate has gone on the record with an opinion, vote, conviction, or gaffe that really would damage them with their own typical supporter, if only it were publicised. In the runup to EDay, a phone canvas of their own supporters to inform them of this FACT, or even better, a recorded message, that included the oppo. candidate saying the bad thing could be directed at all their identified supporters who would take exception to it. This will suppress their turnout on Eday, and could tip the balance in a tight race. Again, I know it stinks, but ultimately, holding the Candidate to account for their words and deeds is part of the democratic process. Incidentally, this is the purpose of negative advertising in politics. To suppress turnout of the oppo supporters, NOT to convert, or win over.

It is the job of the Central Campaign to do the issue research that will arm the Canvas chair with the most effective message to deliver to each opposition Party’s supporters for each of these purposes. It is the job of the Canvas chair to train, plan, and implement each specific canvas, while the timing of each type of canvas will be jointly co-ordinated by the Campaign Manager, the Canvas Chair, and the Communications Chair. Just remember to manage the timing well, with earned media, paid media, literature drops, and canvas each delivering consistent messages at the same time, that re-inforce each other.

The last point that I will make is that the database being built is a long term asset. GRIMES should take into account that the data will be employed in future Federal, Provincial, and Municipal elections. Each dataset, (election), should duplicate every field for re-recording all the previously tagged data, while presenting data collected from past elections for viewing by the canvasser. Just because somebody voted Green Federally in 2008 doesn’t mean that they will do so in 2009, or Provincially, etc. If an elector displays a pattern of consistent support then they could be targeted in between elections for a canvas recruiting members or volunteers. If somebody voted Green in 5 elections, then an endorsement of a municipal candidate by the Green Party will almost certainly carry a lot of weight with them. If somebody switches votes every time, but consistently voted based on the same issue, then the correct message to deliver becomes very obvious, and they can be converted Green easily, despite the fact that they may never have supported the Greens before.

Did this post sound negative, and overly critical of GRIMES? That is NOT the intention. I am totally enthusiastic about this software. The volunteer developer should be eagerly sought out by the Party, and they should be handed a pile of cash to make the sort of improvements I am calling for here. I can practically read their minds for what they were trying to achieve, and why they put it together like this. They wanted to keep it extremely simple for a novice to log on, and start being very effective with zero training. Kudo’s to them! It worked! Maybe version 2.1 could have a little training presentation, or video at the time of logging on, to ensure that it remains very easily used, and that the broader functionality of the upgrade is properly used by Canvassers.

That’s it for today. I really apologise for such a long delay between posts. My only excuse is that I have been really swamped this month, but I’ll try to post more regularly in the future.


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Green Party Candidate nominated for Northumberland Quinte West

I ran my regular Google news search on Green Party of Canada, and apparently there was a candidate nomination contest last week in Northumberland Quinte West. I must confess that I was curious, because one of my Green Party colleagues had attended the meeting, and implied that Stan Grizzle, the new candidate was someone to watch.

Stan Grizzle

Stan Grizzle

According to this Northumberland Today article,  Stan was a liberal in his previous political incarnation, who sought the local liberal nomination in opposition to Paul Macklin, the candidate in the last federal election. I simply do not know how credible Stan’s nomination contest was, but if he was serious, then in all likelihood, he has a local support network to bring to the table for the EDA. I was also pleased to see that the EDA is actively preparing for the next election. At least, the existence of an election readiness commitee, that is meeting later this week implies that they are actually preparing in advance.

According to this NorthumberlandNews article, Stan is also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Brighton Colour guard, which are both important credentials, as any rural politician can tell you. Here’s a snapshot of the electoral landscape in the riding:

Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Conservative Rick Norlock 27,615 48.7%  
     Liberal Paul Macklin 16,209 28.6%  
     New Democrat Russ Christianson 8,230 14.5%  
     Green Ralph Torrie 4,633 8.2%  
Total valid votes 56,687    
Total rejected ballots 186    
Turnout 56,873  %

 

Ontario general election, 2007
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Liberal Lou Rinaldi 22,288 45.4  
     Progressive Conservative Cathy Galt 15,328 31.2  
     New Democrat Carolyn Blaind 6,481 13.2  
     Green Judy Smith Torrie 5,020 10.2  

 

As may be seen from the Federal numbers, the GPC Campaign missed a very important milestone, 10% of the vote, missed by a margin of  1,057 votes. This is truly significant, because in the last election, the GPC Campaign actually spent $34,300, which would have entitled them to a $20,580 rebate. I know that money isn’t everything, BUT that’s a lot of hard work put into fundraising, and minding the pennies. It would be nice to think that the next campaign had a $20,000 leg up. The 2008 Campaign was obviously pretty active, given that they received donations from 104 people, which is a pretty good number for a GPC EDA during the course of an election.

My first piece of advice to Stan, and the EDA is to prepare right now to GOTV to the advance polls in the next election. In 2008, the campaign only pulled in 469 out of 7,466 ballots cast at the advanced polls. That represents 6.3%, and is a few hundred votes shy of the % mark set on the general election day.   Never ever forget that the advance polls are your chance to lock down the soft green supporters, as well as ensure that all the committed GPC supporters do actually vote.

In the last election, Brighton delivered 415 votes out of 5,395 ballots cast. I would hope that Stan, being a member of the Brighton Colour Guard can call on friends and allies to really work the area, and pick up another 400+ votes there. Quinte West is another obvious target. It is the largest group of electors in the riding, but the GPC support levels were only 7.6%. Sooner or later the EDA will have to break through there, and  it might be a suitable target for an intensive effort next time. Based upon the Elections Canada tabulated results, and sorting the advanced polls, there is no really concentrated GPC support in the riding. Since there is no substantial strong point, I believe that the campaign might be well served to create one. Don’t forget that in another 19 months or so, there are going to be municipal elections. Look at the small towns where there is likely to be a contested election. Look for mayoral, and council candidates whom you can pull into a strong local team. If, for example, you were able to find a slate of council candidates for Quinte West, and put a mayoral candidate at their head, then you might have the beginnings of an electoral machine. The quid pro quo is simple. Campaign for us, and build our supporter lists, then we’ll campaign for you, and share our lists and infrastructure. Unfortunately, I do not have the local knowledge  to be more explicit in my advice than this. The riding is divided up into smaller townships, so take this fact, and win the district one town at a time. Don’t forget that the Green Party is a very valuable political ‘Brand’. It will work Municipally, and Provincially, as well as Federally, so put it to work for you!

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Correlations between Campaign Spending and Green Party of Canada vote outcomes.

Now there’s an exciting post title for you! Seriously folks, I have seen a little discussion here and

It Matters

It Matters

there about just how important election spending is to winning votes. I thought I would sink a little time into quantifying the relationship between EDA formation, campaign spending, and electoral success. I trotted off the the Elections Canada website financial reports database, and the election results database. It’s pretty easy to get sortable data from here, all you have to do is look up the relevant Candidate, Party, or District, and then download the data as a txt file. This file can be imported into an excel spreadsheet, and viola, you have sortable datafiles to play with.
It actually took me a little time, because I had to sort the data so it was all in compatible rows and columns, but I finally got every Electoral district in Ontario, into a spreadsheet, along with every EDA that filed a return in 2007.

The three sets of data I merged were candidate financial return summaries, 2007 EDA financial return summaries, and the actual election result summaries. The data is incomplete, due to some late filings, and of course, not every campaign reports all the data consistently. Still, there were some basic, and irrefutable findings to share. I wish I could figure out how to upload an excel file, then I could put a link here so you could download the actual spreadsheet, but I’ll have to settle for the outcome of some basic statistical analysis.

Correlation between spending and % Vote: 0.76573958
Correlation Between 2007 EDA Assets and %vote: 0.53411402
Correlation between Transfers into campaign and % vote: 0.72692593
Correlation between campaign contributions and % vote: 0.27744132
Correlation between spending and total votes: 0.75095156
Correlation between EDA assets and total votes: 0.57536407
Correlation between transfers into campaign and total votes: 0.6979957
Correlation between campaign contributions and total votes: 0.3293264

election-spending

So there it is folks, this table was produced using the basic CORREL function in Excel. A correlation of 1 means a perfect positive correlation between the two variables, and a correlation of 0 means no relationship whatsoever.  As you can see, there is a very strong relationship between reported election expenses and both the total number of Green Party votes, and the percentage of the total vote. The relationship between the financial position of the EDA the year before, and the actual vote outcome is less important, but still pretty strongly positive. Whether the funds were raised by the Campaign, or by the EDA prior to the election was still a positive relationship, but much less influential.

For what it’s worth, the data supports the following conclusions:

1) Raise as much money as possible, from whatever sources you can find.

2) Form an EDA, and make sure that you are doing your utmost to raise money through it.

3) Make sure that your campaign has a finance chair, and continue to raise money throughout the campaign.

All these things will have a strong positive outcome on your vote come EDay. Please don’t bombard me with criticism about the nature of causal relationships. I know that in many respects the money is a symptom of organizational strength. That’s why I ran a number of different correlations. This data is weak in many respects, BUT it does demonstrate that even in the absence of an EDA organization, hard cash still has a major impact.

As to how you spend your money, I wish that EC laid out the detailed spending reports in an easily managed format, because then I would irrefutably prove that local advertising is a waste of F***ing money. If you cannot canvas widely, your advertising should be in the form of flyer’s, widely distributed, which will drive people to your website. Do everything you can think of to ID voters, build your mailing, and emailing lists, and get more supporter data stored away for the next election. Unless you have a lot of eday volunteers to GOTV, you can pay for voicemail message delivery, and telemarketers to GOTV for you. I don’t have any hard data to prove it, but I believe that broadcast recorded message drops into voicemail will be effective in converting voters. Keep it fun, and make sure that you have plenty of chances for volunteers to party a little. These are some of the appropriate uses for all that money you’re going to raise for the next campaign.

As a sort of a post script to this, there is some happy news for 18 Ontario EDA’s. These are the campaigns that broke the 10% barrier, thus being entitled to a rebate on 60% of their election expenses. The rebates will range from a low of $2,800 to a high of $46,000, so that means a fair number of teams will go into the next election with a substantial war chest. One the other side of the coin, it really hurts to see Ottawa Centre miss their $24,946 rebate by a mere 45 votes! There were altogether another 10 campaigns that missed their rebate by a few hundred votes, so that goes to prove that even at our level, every vote counts!

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Green Party Canada by-election prospects multiplying.

The first definite candidate riding for a By-Election campaign for Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada will be coming into play sometime in the next 115 or so days. Last week, the recently elected Dawn Black, NDP MP resigned her seat to seek the same seat in the upcoming Provincial election. Kudo’s to Mark Taylor for pointing out that the second place Conservative candidate, Yonah Martin was just appointed to the Senate. This is a very interesting situation indeed, given that there was such a tight race between the NDP and the CPC, with the Liberals coming in third by a wide margin.

New Westminster—Coquitlam

Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democrat Dawn Black 20,787 41.8% +3.49
Conservative Yonah Martin 19,299 38.8% +6.27
Liberal Michelle Hassen 5,615 11.3% -12.23
Green Marshall Smith 3,574 7.20% +4.25
Libertarian Lewis C. Dahlby 314 0.6 NA
Marxist-Leninist Roland Verrier 103 0.20% +0.10
Total valid votes 49,692 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 165 0.33

The total turnout in this race was 61.74%, which is about average. The Liberals have been floundering in the New Westminster riding, and have steadily been shedding votes since the 2000 election. With a new, and relatively centrist leader, the Liberals can probably expect a bit of a bounce back at the expense of both the NDP and Conservatives. It is no secret that the best opportunity for a Green Party victory is with a high profile candidate, (Like Elizabeth May), and a four way split amongst the electorate. IF, (and it’s a big if), the Liberals decide to field a centrist candidate to split the tory vote in this traditionally right of centre riding. If the Green Party hires a hot damned professional campaign manager, and IF Elizabeth May decides to throw her hat into the ring, then this could be the first properly elected seat for the GPC in Canada.

From what I know of Elizabeth though, she will tap the shoulder of her old friend and ally, Adrian Carr to run the campaign. Adrian has reputedly acquired an old NDP Campaign manual, and this will probably qualify her in her own, and Elizabeth’s eyes. Elizabeth would be well advised to gently deflect Adrian, and hire a real professional. (If she can find one). As she hopefully learned in the 2008 Central Nova debacle, it takes a tightly focused Poll by Poll canvas to take on and beat the Conservatives in their own natural surroundings.  She needs someone who will win the riding by contesting each and every poll. Dropping 75% of the Campaign budget on advertising simply does not cut it. Direct contact is what wins elections. I mean, for crying out loud, Central Nova could have hired professional call centres to canvas the whole riding for the kind of money they spent on print and radio advertising. It all smacked of a total rookie campaign manager, who simply doesn’t understand how retail politics is done but had an inkling that money wins elections.

What’s with this obsession with local advertising anyways? Elizabeth insisted on the same bloody thing in the London North Centre by-election, with full page ads in the local papers. A few hundred bucks for event notices and such, sure. A little advertsing dough to render the editorial staff receptive, well, that’s how politics is done. Popping your whole budget to reach a fraction of the electorate with a couple of print impressions? That’s not how you do it! Money in politics means paying professionals to help with GOTV. It means phone banks canvassing like crazy to feed the GOTV machine. It means vehicles rented to drive people to the advance polls. It means retailing your message, one on one!

Above all, Elizabeth needs to be very careful not to lose in her next trip to the polls. The Green Party can be publicly very forgiving of  the failures of their leadership, but there are already significant rumblings within the ranks. In the spring of 2010, the Green Party of Canada wil be gearing up for a Leadership race. Another electoral failure of the ‘Great Green Hope’ so close to the next Leadership race will be taken as a signal by many Greens. A signal that the gamble with a media savvy Leader was not as good as it seemed at the time.

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