The Green Party demostrating strategic and tactical smarts on Vancouver Island

The Greens are running a tight ship on Vancouver Island these days. In the wake of Andrew Weavers win in Oak Bay Gordon Head on behalf of the BC Green Party, I decided to have a closer look at the BC Provincial election results in the Victoria area.

Knowing so little about BC Politics, I trotted off to find the Provincial riding maps, and past Provincial election results in the area. From that point it was a quick and simple matter to visually contrast the Provincial riding maps and compare them to the Federal ridings. You see, the typical Green supporter does not really differentiate between the Provincial and Federal Green Party’s in their area. A Federal Green voter is extremely likely to vote Green Provincially, so it would be reasonable to expect that the $million plus that the Green Party of Canada has sunk into Saanich Gulf Islands would be reflected in the Provincial results. The bulk of that money has been spent over the past 4 years in staffing offices in SGI, and systematically building supporter lists in the district.

In November 2012, Donald Galloway representing the Green Party of Canada ran a hotly contested campaign to win the Federal riding of Victoria, which is immediately adjacent to SGI. As I have posted before, the Greens have become extremely good at mobilizing volunteers from across the country to work virtual phone banks for a targeted canvas. In essence, they bombard their supporter lists with emailed invitations to volunteer to telephone canvas from their homes. It is very easy for volunteers, basically they get an emailed link to log in to the canvassing database. They log in, a name and phone number pops onto their screen, alongside a simple script, and they start dialling and recording voting intentions. Whether they work for 10 minutes, or 10 hours, all the data they collect is automatically preserved, and has gotten the campaign that much closer to identifying all their prospective supporters in the area. It takes literally tens of thousands of volunteer hours to fully canvas a riding. The biggest stumbling block for building up identified voters lists is the sheer volume of work involved in actually knocking on all those doors, or dialling all those phone numbers. By calling on hundreds of volunteers from all across the country, the local GP campaign can focus on key objectives, while the donkey work of identifying, and subsequently getting out the vote can be handled by volunteers from far and wide. Well the Green ID and GOTV virtual phone bank was firing on all cylinders on behalf of both Galloway in Victoria, and Turner in Calgary Centre by-elections. Galloway ran a strong campaign, in the riding adjacent to Elizabeth May’s stronghold of SGI. He was able to call on hundreds of local volunteers, and the Federal Party infrastructure of paid staffers and offices just across the riding boundary. The upshot of all those resources being mobilized to support a strong candidate, and a strong EDA was a pretty close second place finish with over 34% of the popular vote in Victoria.

So fast forward to the BC Provincial election 6 months later, and you can see the strategy of building an Island stronghold being implemented. At this point I wish I knew how to create poll level maps, and a geo coded database of vote results. But I don’t, so I will have to support my argument with fuzzier information and generalized conclusions. Have no fear, a poll by poll analysis will bear me out, but I am both too lazy, and insufficiently skilled to actually do all that work.

First of all, in BC, the Provincial riding boundaries are not really related to the Federal boundaries. The Federal Electoral Districts have 2-3 times the population as a Provincial riding.  As a result, the Federal Saanich Gulf Islands for example incorporates the entirety of one Provincial riding, and pokes into significant corners of  two more. The same holds true for the federal Victoria riding. So between SGI, and Victoria, there are larger, or smaller overlaps with 5 Provincial ridings. The Green Party of BC put their strongest candidates into ridings where the Greens had thoroughly canvassed, and identified large numbers of supporters federally through GPC campaigns.

Adam Olsen, who is a well recognised 2 term city councillor in Central Saanich ran for the BC Greens in Saanich North and the Islands. This riding is completely within the boundaries of SGI federally. Jane Sterk, Leader of the BC Greens ran in Victoria Beacon Hill, which is completely within the boundaries of Victoria federally. Andrew Weaver, a very well known Professor at U Vic ran in Oak Bay Gordon Head, which is split between Victoria and SGI Federally, while the relatively weak candidate in Victoria Swan Lake was Spencer Malthouse (my apologies Spencer), in a riding that overlaps with Victoria Federally.

The results are laid out in the table below. Please note the growth in Green Party of BC votes were exceptionally strong where the riding boundaries overlapped with SGI, and a lesser extent where the overlaps were with Victoria.


2009 2013 2009 2013 2009 2013
Federal Overlaps with: Provincial Riding Votes % Votes % GROWTH Votes Votes Votes Votes
SGI & Victoria Oak Bay Gordon Head 2152 8.91% 9602 40.09% 346.19% 11266 7124 10736 6772
SGI Saanich North & Islands 3016 10.91% 9294 31.86% 208.16% 12513 9629 12118 9681
Esquimault-Juan de Fuca & SGI Saanich South 1551 6.56% 3612 15.16% 132.88% 10728 8473 11141 10824
Victoria Victoria Beacon Hill 3768 16.64% 7852 33.72% 108.39% 5998 3981 12591 11335
Esquimault-Juan de Fuca Juan de Fuca 1645 8.53% 3253 15.46% 97.75% 6624 6513 11008 11272
Victoria Victoria Swan Lake 2459 12.01% 4502 22.62% 83.08% 5456 4509 12389 10891
Nanaimo-Cowichan Cowichan Valley 2807 11.64% 4662 18.79% 66.08% 8734 8786 11575 9923
Nanaimo-Alberni & Nanaimo Cowichan Nanaimo North Cowichan 2004 8.96% 3043 13.41% 51.85% 7956 6984 12159 10538
Vancouver Island North Comox Valley 2338 8.56% 3292 11.48% 40.80% 13016 12817 11593 11024
Esquimault-Juan de Fuca Esquimalt Royal Roads 3370 16.71% 4486 21.61% 33.12% 6098 5959 10705 9997
Nanaimo-Alberni & Nanaimo Cowichan Nanaimo 1852 8.96% 2198 10.53% 18.68% 7497 7812 11057 9548
Vancouver island North North Island 1561 7.25% 0 0.00% -100.00% 8411 8862 11232 10595
Nanaimo-Alberni & Nanaimo Cowichan Alberni Pacific Rim 1250 7.41% 0 0.00% -100.00% 5373 5981 10007 9829
Nanaimo-Alberni Parksville Qualicum 2465 9.57% 0 0.00% -100.00% 13265 13405 9803 9899


As you can see, over a 4 year period, the Green vote grew appreciably in every riding on the Island. If you look at the raw vote counts though, you will see that the truly impressive growth was happening in ridings where the Greens were strongest to begin with. In short, the possession of a strong ground game, access to extensive supporter and voter lists, and the mobilization of a nationwide virtual phone bank in support of a campaign is sufficient to propel the Greens within striking distance of winning in select ridings.

The implications for the next General election in 2015 are twofold. Locally, on the island itself, we can expect to see a concerted effort to continue to build on past successes. Provincial, Federal, and Municipal Greens will be co-ordinating and sharing resources in an un-precedented way. SGI will be an easy win for Elizabeth May, and Victoria and Esquimault-Juan de Fuca will be squarely in the GPC`s sights. I fully expect that there will be stronger campaigns in ALL the Vancouver Island ridings, and the process of building a regional stronghold will continue.

The wider implications are that the Greens will be paying a LOT more attention to Federal By-Elections. I would expect that Calgary Centre will have a well funded and organized campaign in 2015, based upon their excellent showing in the November By-Election. I doubt very much that the GPC will spend a nickel on the upcoming Bourassa by-election in Quebec, but they will be weighing their future chances in any riding where a by-election is going to be called. With a few months heads up, they are now fully capable of pledging the monetary support to entice a strong local Candidate. With the proven ability to mobilize a seriously massive volunteer phone canvas, they can strategically use a by-election build the local electoral database in preparation for the general election in 2015. In this respect, the Green Party is incrementally creating the conditions to win in a handful of ridings come 2015. I for one will be following their efforts with interest.

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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.




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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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


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 Election Tactics 101

Vote Green is the message

Vote Green is the message

I’ll occasionally be posting on basic election tactics, and the mechanics of winning elections. I know this will be repetitive for many experienced Green Party Campaigners, and most election volunteers from the other Party’s will laugh at how simple we Greens are. The fact is though, that many Green Party Campaigns are made up of volunteers who care passionately about our policies, but have never worked on a political campaign before. So long as there are a few seasoned pro’s in your riding who can teach you, that’s fine, BUT if you are in one of the smaller EDA’s, you might not even know where to start.
The most basic campaign activity is Canvassing. There are many reasons to Canvass, but the most basic is to Identify your’ supporters. (ID the vote). You Identify the vote so that you can get out the vote, (GOTV) for the advance polls, and on election day itself. Congratulations! You now know what everybody is talking about when they say ID-GOTV. They go hand in glove.
At the outset of the campaign, Elections Canada will provide paper, and electronic versions of the preliminary list of electors for your’ entire riding. The lists will be sorted into seperate polls, and further sorted within the poll by street address. Your’ campaign manager will need to assign priority to those polls where the largest number of Green votes are expected to come from. Your’ campaign will NOT have the resources to do the whole riding, so you must pluck the low hanging fruit. By the same token, far more homeowners vote than renters, so, unless you have a compelling reason, you will probably be focusing on homeowners.
The job of your’ volunteers is primarily to canvass door to door, or by telephone, (If you have

Just knock on that door

Just knock on that door

secured telephone numbers). You are basically asking people who they are going to vote for, and if they are willing to take a lawn sign. You record their answers, make sure you’ve got your’ supporters phone number, and move on to the next household. If somebody is leaning towards supporting the Green Party, you can spend a minute or so with them explaining the policy they are most interested in, but remember that you have about 40,000 households to visit, and only 30 days or so to do it in!
At the end of a long day’s canvassing, you return your canvas sheets to the campaign headquarters, where they are transcribed, (or scanned if you’re lucky), to the supporters list for the GOTV.
When the advance polls are about to open, you telephone the entire list of your’ known supporters, and ask them to go out and vote at the advance polls. Going door to door of known supporters is best, but will take a whack of volunteers. This is IMPORTANT! The Green Party voters will be under attack by the Liberals, and NDP over the whole campaign, and the other Party’s will have good computerized lists of all the Greens. They will be giving all kinds of silly, but effective stories to get them to change their votes. Every voter you get to the advance polls will not be able to change their minds over the last weekend before the vote. Since that is the weekend where a good chunk of our voters do exactly that, change their minds, every Green who goes to the advance polls is worth 1.5 greens who wait until eday to vote.

Get the vote or lose it

Get the vote or lose it

If you have ever wondered why the Green Party polls maybe 35% higher than their actual share of the vote on election day, the answer lies largely with the ID-GOTV cycle. Forget about all the pollsters, and pundits and their nonsense about ‘soft support’ and ‘bleeding away’. It’s all a load of crap. A good GOTV organization will increase the vote by up to 25%. It boils down to organization at the Poll level. The other Party’s have it. The Green Party doesn’t. therefore our support collapses on election day due to lack of effective reminders to get out and vote.

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Green Party Tactics; And the ethnic vote.

Trnity-Spadina's China Town

Trinity-Spadina's China Town

Almost every Electoral District in Canada presents the opportunity for a highly targeted ethnic, religious, or language based campaign. For many people it is a joy, and a privilege to live in an Electoral District that has a number of distinct ethnicities within it’s boundaries. Many EDA’s recognize this by translating their election literature into one or two different languages, but that is just touching the surface of what will be required to win the vote of a distinct group.

If your’ EDA has reached a plateau, then you will have to pay serious attention to segmenting the population within your district, and winning the next election at a really micro level. The easiest specialty campaign, or canvas to organize is for a distinct language. You need to start by identifying the individual members of the ‘target’ language. I’ll use Polish as an example. You’ll have to extrapolate for your own District. Have a couple of Polish speaking volunteers go through the entire electors list, and tag all of the Polish last names. Compile this list, either by tagging language or ethnicity data-field in your’ electronic database, OR compile a seperate list if you haven’t yet managed to get a nice electronic database established. (be sure to retain Poll

Pick a phone - and start dialling

Pick a phone - and start dialling

numbers in this list!).

Now for some donkey work! If you haven’t already acquired all the phone numbers, you need to do the lookups, and ensure that you get them all. You will ultimately reach the group by telephone, because they will generally be scattered throughout the area, and a targeted foot canvas will be very much hit and miss. Start work NOW because you can, and there’ll be plenty of other stuff to do once the writ is dropped. Don’t forget to preserve this data in electronic format! (Spreadsheet will do if all else fails).

The next step is to find out who is prominent in the Polish community. Start approaching community leaders, and meeting one on one. This will include Priests, Business Associations,

Polish John Paul II Outside St. Casimir's Parkdale High Park District

Polish John Paul II Outside St. Casimir's Parkdale High Park District

Veterans Associations, Polish Language media, etc. and canvas them to determine what the important issues within their community are. Just by engaging community leaders in this manner, you are gaining a degree of acceptance that I guarantee you didn’t have before. Disect the GPC platform, and assemble the points that will have particular resonance within this community. Tell your new contacts the truth, their community is important to you, and that you want their endorsement. Once you have a respectable slate of endorsements, you are ready to create community specific campaign literature. Create simple conversion pieces, that name all the endorsers, and en-numerates the most attractive features of our platform.

The next step is fairly conventional retail politics. Run your phone canvas in the appropriate language. Lead off each conversation with the names of some of your’ endorsements, and ask for the vote, a sign placement, and for volunteer hours. Have your specialty campaign team research community picnics, meetings, and venues for your’ candidate to come out and meet the community. Make sure that a translator is with the candidate, and that you have the proper conversion piece (flyer) with you. I guarantee you that the Liberal Party is there before you, but if you do this really well, then you can pick off some chunks of support. Be opportunistic: If the other Party’s have somehow screwed up their position within an ethnic group, then move right on in there. Record all voting intentions, (not just Green Party), and have your Polish speaking volunteers make the phone calls, and house visits when you Get Out The Vote.

A quick post script: If you are in the Green Party of Ontario, don’t waste your time working on a predominantly Catholic community, like the Polish. Seperate school funding matters to Catholics, and all your efforts will be wasted when the Liberals roll through their lists and point out that the GPO wants to eliminate seperate school funding. ( What a boneheaded move!)

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Green Party Canada: Municipal Elections and the Opportunity to grow the EDA

Tip O'Neill   "All Politics are Local"

Tip O'Neill "All Politics are Local"

A great many people who join the GPC have a limited involvement in municipal politics, and don’t see the relevance of the municipal election to the Federal scene. If this attitude holds sway in your’ EDA, then I’m afraid that you are missing a great opportunity to organize at the grass roots level. Municipal politics is almost always the poor sister of the Federal and Provincial scene. Municipal campaigns are typically poorly funded, have very few volunteers, and are often characterized by poor organization. This represents a great opportunity for the EDA.

In my opinion, the EDA should be researching the candidates, getting involved in local organizations like the residents associations, and Business groups well prior to the local election. If the EDA is in a position to offer a valuable endorsement, and some volunteers to a good clean local campaign, it will fulfil a number of useful functions.

First off, the local candidate ought to be grateful for the help, win or lose. Most serious local candidates have roots in one or more local grassroots organizations. Whether it be a ratepayers association, or environmental group, there will be some kind of an organization which will be in a position to return the favour when the next Federal election comes around. That should translate to volunteers, endorsements, and donations come the time.

Second payoff is when the time comes to be recruiting a candidate for the Federal election. Many great candidates get their start in municipal politics. It pays to have a candidate with name recognition, and the network of local contacts that get things done in an election. Whether your candidate(s) wins locally, or fails to win their municipal race, it will be useful for them to establish themselves further as environmentalists, and real political activists by standing Federally for the GPC.

Third payoff is from sharing the political data that accrues to a municipal campaign. Provided the municipal campaign issues have been very GPC friendly, then the identified voter base from the

Get 'em out quick

Get 'em out quick

municipal campaign are likely to be very good prospects to vote GPC federally. When the federal canvas rolls out, the endorsement of the candidate will be very useful when canvassing his/her ID’d supporters to vote GPC. The sign takers from the municipal campaign are obviously the first, (well, second anyways), place to hit with your sign canvas when the Federal writ is dropped. Very quick placement of arterial signs is useful in establishing momentum for your campaign. The more potential sign takers you have for a lightning fast sign canvas, the quicker you can establish your federal campaign as a ‘contender’ in the eyes of the local electorate.

For those GPC campaigners who are a little foggy about the why’s and how’s of a canvas with endorsement in hand, it goes like this; ‘Hi I’m canvassing for the Green Party of Canada. Your local alderman/councillor candidate Judy X has endorsed our campaign, and she suggested I get in touch with you for permission to put up a sign. Can we drop by and put one up tonight?’. 30 seconds on the phone, get the sign placed, and move to the next phone number/front door.

A word of advice, be honest about your motives when offering an endorsement to a candidate. Offer your’ EDA’s help, but ask for the explicit quid pro quo that the candidate will endorse your candidate back again, and will provide the canvas results, volunteer lists etc. Your EDA cannot lose, and if the Candidate is a good one, then you could win with real home run, like a local politician with paid staffers and volunteers plugging hard to return the favour.

If you are interested in politics, whether local, provincial, or federal, why not join the most exciting Political Party in Canada Today?

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Green Party Election Strategy: Rising Tide, or Beachhead Ridings?

Lifts All Boats

Lifts All Boats

I recently read an article by an articulate, and thoughtful Green Party activist, Kevin Colton. There has long been debate in the Green Party of Canada choosing between two strategic and organizing imperatives. Because Kevin put the argument so very well for the so-called rising tide strategy, I thought I should refer to it when arguing the contrary.

The first of two schools of thought is that the Green Party should build infrastructure on the regional and national level. Any success in an individual riding is short lived, and illusory because these beachhead efforts always fall short of actually winning the seat. Kevin argues, very well, that a little effort goes a long way in an area that has no infrastructure, and no organizational depth. By nurturing humble beginnings, it is possible to achieve critical mass, and move on to bigger and better things.


Establishing the Beachhead

The counter arguments are that the Green Party would enjoy an enormous boost as soon as the first candidates are elected. Once the GPC takes it’s place in Parliament, the added visibility will make it much more credible, and therefore more attractive to quality candidates, and the electorate.

I would argue that this is a false choice. There is a certain minimal level of support that will help inexperienced Riding executives to nurture their volunteer base, fundraising skills, and basic campaigning know-how. All EDA’s should get a basic helping hand. Throwing additional monetary resources at a basic EDA that has a minimal volunteer base, a mediocre candidate, little campaign experience, and no reasonable prospect of ever electing a Candidate is not a wise use of scarce resources though.

Since the GPC is constituted as a Political Party, with the stated objective of electing candidates to Parliament, GPC strategy should be focused on achieving this objective as quickly as possible. There are a number of ridings across the country which are likely to become a GPC beachhead riding. Those ridings where the electorate is fairly evenly split between 3 or more party’s have demonstrable potential to be swayed by alternate messages, or Party loyalties. Ultimate electoral success in any riding will depend upon the quality of candidates above all, followed by the numbers of volunteers, and an identified base of historical GPC voters. In these split ridings in particular, the GPC should be pouring the maximum resources available in every subsequent election. I only need point to Bruce Grey Owen Sound, or Guelph, or Saanich, etc. to bring forth examples of ridings that have grown in organizational depth, and all the skills and resources required to ‘put the puck in the net’. The fact that Bruce Grey Owen Sound is not readily winnable because of the pre-eminence of the Conservatives is beside the point. (No 3 way split present). If you were to graft their organization, and super candidate onto any of the 20 I have identified elsewhere, we would have elected our first sitting member in 2008.

Bruce Grey Owen Sound is a great case study for the beachhead strategy. In the 2003 – 2004 Provincial, and Federal elections, the riding was fairly typical, with a share of the vote of 1.7% provincially, and just over 4% Federally.

shane-jolleyIn the 2006 Federal Election, a strong local candidate, Shane Jolley stepped forward, and after significant organizational improvements Shane brought the results up by 8.74% Federally, to a total of 12.91%. (copy edit thanks to correction by Shane Jolley).In the 2007 Provincial Election, the riding was identified as a beachhead riding, and significant resources were put into the race. Shane finished with a strong second place with 33% of the popular vote. Despite a local mini-scandal whereby Shane was replaced as candidate by the dick-hibmapopular Dick Hibma, in the 2008 Federal election the Greens retained the lions share of their voters, while scoring 27.2% of the popular vote. I think this establishes pretty clearly that strong candidates, plus adequate resources can bring a low popular standing a very long way over a few short years. If this type of success can be transplanted to the 20 beachhead ridings I have identified elsewhere, then it is probable that several ridings will return an elected MP anytime from 2010 on.

In conclusion I will opine that the GPC should give basic assistance plus a little to every riding that proves capable of helping itself. For those where the future electoral prospects look solid, no effort should be spared in recruiting star candidates, focused membership drives, and providing logistical support.

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Green Party of Canada: Guaranteed 250,000 more votes if..

For my next trick, 250,00 votes and $5,000,000

For my next trick, 250,00 votes and $5,000,000

I know this is a provocative title, and no doubt many Green Party of Canada sceptics are chuckling up their sleeves as they read this bold claim. How is this magical number to be achieved they ask themselves? My response is simple. Data driven decision making, and resource allocation. The practice is not so simple. It requires skilled people that exist in the Party, but who will need to be coaxed to the backrooms with a budget, and some patience.

What I am referring to is detailed statistical/geographical analysis of Green Party of Canada voters, members, and donors. In theory it is simple. Start by acquiring the 2006 Census results for Canada. The census data is collected by location, includes all kinds of really detailed information, far beyond age, income, sex, education, and the stuff you kind of recall filling in on your census form in 2006. This data is ultimately keyed to postal codes. This is, indirectly how Elections Canada distributes voting data, in their poll by poll electronic database, which in turn is keyed to poll maps. When you have acquired appropriate mapping software, you have the basic tools to create and distribute a totally kick ass poll targeting tool for every EDA in the country. Competent Geographers, and Statisticians can use this data to analyse precisely what kind of people voted for the Green party of Canada in past elections, and can then output poll by poll maps of areas where people are very likely to vote green, but for some reason have not done so in past elections.

With a very detailed, and complete picture of what kinds of people voted for the Green Party, and exactly where they are located in Canada, you can now target your message poll by poll to the people who actually live there. You can do so with a degree of certainty that your message is what they will be interested in. Our Party has a broad platform, and we DO appeal to all kinds of people, so why shouldn’t we tell people the thing they are most likely to like about us? Why shouldn’t we find out what people on a certain block want to hear about, and tell them, truthfully, what we want to do for them?

Once this big, but important job is complete, there are a few simple things to do, that are totally awesome in their implications. First off, by feeding the Green Party of Canada’s donor, membership, and volunteer lists into the picture, it is possible to predict with incredible precision where potential new donors live, where potential new members live, and where potential new volunteers live. Combine this data with commercially available telephone number lists, and basic Canada Post goodies, and you can start a really awesome fundraising, membership, and volunteer drive.

I hope by now that intelligent Green Party readers of this blog are starting to get excited at the possibilities. The 250,00 votes I bragged about in my title above is the pure dumb simple worst case outcome from this endeavor. Those are the phantom votes that pollsters tell us are ours, but who then evaporate on election day. With a little smarts, work, and organizing, there is no reason why the Green Party of Canada wouldn’t beat the crap out of the Conservative fundraising machine. All this could be achieved on less than $50,000, so mull that over a little, and give me your comments!

As usual, I implore you, if you want to get involved in an exciting political Party, that is really going to change you, and your’ childrens lives for the better, then Join the Green Party Today!

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Election Post Mortem: Green Party Canada 2008

Having come through another Federal election with mixed results, the Green Party of Canada needs to do a formal Post Mortem of their national Campaign. Elizabeth May took a stab at it, with a blog on the GPC site, but I sincerely hope that this is the beginning, not the end of the analysis. As she noted herself, several times, the organization, and ‘readiness’ was pretty bad. Honestly, there’s nothing surprising there. If you take 250 campaign rubes, and tell them, go run a campaign, then don’t expect much of them without very damn good direction. I’ll start with a critique of what I consider to be the strong point of the Campaign, communications.

Vote Green and Vote Often!

Vote Green and Vote Often!

Part 1 – Communications Critique

Elizabeth May is no slouch when it comes to communications, and gaining earned media coverage. The GPC generally responded to events fairly quickly, given the human resources at their disposal. I believe that the communications team should establish a War Room for the next election, with good searchable databases, and prepared response templates for various contingencies. You need to come back within 45 minutes with a newsworthy response as events unfold. Your quick response also needs to steer the conversation back to where you want it to be. If you’ve made a bad choice about what you want the message to be, then it doesn’t matter so much, does it?

On messaging, it was clear that the GPC’s central message was; ‘Down with the dastardly Conservatives.’ I’m sorry, but that is not a good enough reason for a voter to split with habit, and vote GPC. If you have an impact, then on balance you’ve won more votes for the Liberals, or NDP than for the Green Party. It is important to differentiate ourselves from ‘the competition’ in the ideas marketplace. According to the Strategic Counsel Poll from the end of August, 2008, The three most important issues to the electorate leading into the election were 1) The Economy 2) The Environment 3) Health Care. In my opinion, the GPC’s health message is strong, and really differentiated from the crowd. Yes, we need to cover all the bases in our platform. Being the only Party talking strongly about health care would have really set us apart, and would definitely have helped us on election day. I don’t claim to be omnipotent, but I do know that there needs to be a strong focus on a single theme to make an impact with the electorate. I am equally sure that we need to be differentiated, and that our main theme should emphasize that Canadians need to vote for us for a positive reason, that resonates with them, and sets us apart.

UPDATE: Dec.12,2008 Just came across this Ipsos Poll on Health Care.

Printed material: We really moved backwards in time. There should have been a selection of campaign flier, and conversion piece templates. Most EDA’s were without experienced Campaigners, so they should have been hold how, and where to use printed materials. How do the campaigns know what the theme is, or what their talking points should be? Communications from the War Room, and National Campaign headquarters, that’s how.

Bullseye Communications

Bullseye Communications

Narrowcasting: I know I said we have to have a single theme above, BUT there is a case to be made to tailor the message to narrower segments of the electorate, where and when you have a chance to speak to a defined group apart from the mainstream. For example, in ethnic language presentations, you may focus on a different part of our platform, in a manner that flatters our party in the eyes of the targeted electors, whether by faith, language, ethnicity, age, or virtually any identifiable group, with identifiable tastes and preferences, that are distinct from the ‘normal, (In the statistical sense), population. I did not receive any communications targetted to me, other than a few appeals for dough by email. This should be an ongoing element of building our Party, but perhaps we should crawl before we walk, or run.

I’ll have plenty more to say about poor organization in tomorrows post.

If you, the reader would like to put YOUR skills to work building this wonderful Party for the next election, then please Join the Green Party Today!

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Green Party 2008 Election Results. Win or Loss?

Green Party win or loss?

Green Party win or loss?

I just picked up the validated results from the Elections Canada Website. I didn’t bother sorting out the judicial recounts etc. but the total Green Party vote was 937,643 ballots from a total of 13,719,113 ballots cast. That adds up to 6.83% of the vote.

I guess that looks like a win compared to the 2006 election, because the vote count went up from 664,068, and 4.5%. The GPC funding moves from about $1.3 million to around $1.8 million per annum, plus when the next election hits the GPC will get the same amount to fund the next election, as soon as the writ is dropped. Given the past financial straits of the party, (they were essentially broke when Elizabeth May took over), this shot in the arm, when married to the newfound fundraising prowess means they should be solvent. Solvency will depend on retiring their debts, and prudent budgetting, but lets just assume they’ll manage that OK?

The loss part is based upon the hard and pointy fact that expectations were raised to an unreasonable level. The public was repeatedly informed that the GPC would win seats. There was a whack of media attention, the debate participation, public statements by the leader, and spokespersons. There was no obvious plan to actually make seat wins happen though.

It was more than conceivable that seats could be won. Recruiting a few excellent candidates for potentially winnable ridings would have been a starting point. Follow that by pre-election organising in said potentially winnable ridings. Hire some real campaign managers, and communications people, lend staffers to the breakthrough targets, and ensure full funding and it might have come true. At least may have come close.

It was not to be. Now the political credibility of Elizabeth has been largely spent. The sense of fair play in the country will be inclined to say, ‘we gave them their chance, they got the debate spot they have been demanding, and they couldn’t even get their leader elected’.

On balance, the bad news outweighs the good. If the GPC cannot score a by-election win soon, then they will suffer big time in the 2009 – 2010 election. It pains me to say it, but the failure was in managing expectations. Promise seats + don’t deliver = you are a failure.

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