Elizabeth May to tilt at Central Nova windmill again.

Oh No! It’s deja vu all over again.

Running in Central Nova again?!

Running in Central Nova again?!

I just read back to back posts at Report on Greens, where yesterday Elizabeth May had seemed to back down on her insistence on running in Central Nova, and thenflip flopped in a CTV interview. Yesterday I was quite pleased. I assumed that Elizabeth had seen the light, and realized that it was simple necessity  that she win a seat fair and square. Even casual observers of the GPC could see that her future, and even the Green Party’s future depends upon meeting the raised expectations of the electorate and the Party. After all, if the Greens were content to make marginal, and incremental improvements in their vote, then they would have elected David Chernushenko leader, and been guaranteed solid organisation and management. Instead, the GPC elected Elizabeth May because her high profile. Her undoubted media savvy seemed to offer the best chance of a strong Air War, and maybe a couple of seats in the next general election.

We all know that things somehow went wrong when Elizabeth rejected the professional advice of Dan Baril, and decided to run against Peter Mackay in Central Nova. I won’t rake it all over the coals again. Suffice it to say that Central Nova would vote for Peters dog if Peter was unavailable, just so long as the dog went by the name Mackay. It could be that Elizabeth thought that her pact with Dion not to run a Liberal candidate against her would suffice to unseat the favourite. There’s no question that Elizabeth’s desire to represent the riding where she and her family have lived for several decades weighed heavily on her. I have little doubt that more than a dash of wishful thinking was involved.

What actually happened is history now. The Green Party of Canada injected $80,000 into the campaign, out of which an astonishing $31,000 was spent on mostly print advertising. The bulk of the balance of their spending was on office rent, heat, and phones. A total of $55,000 was expended, (about $25k less than the spending limit), and Elizabeth May came in 6,000 votes behind Peter Mackay. Mind you, this was without any Liberal candidate in the race.

Now I’m sure that the Central Nova campaign identified all of the local GPC supporters. (NOT). I’m sure that they learned all about running an effective campaign in Central Nova, (NOT). Does Elizabeth imagine that with Ignatieff’s commitment to run a Liberal candidate against her, this will split the Conservative vote? Will the Lib/Con split to a greater extent than it splits her own vote? Not gonna happen. I don’t have any local opinion research to back me up, but I sincerely doubt that Elizabeth does either. I will eat my hat if any serious polls of the local electorate would support her in her decision. What the devil is she thinking then? The only thing I am left with is to suppose that she knows something that I don’t know.

Is Peter Mackay going to run in the next election or not? If he goes, and decides not to run his dog against her, then May suddenly becomes my favourite to win there. That could explain it. I will profusely apologise if that is the case. If it isn’t, then I am very disappointed indeed.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Bill Casey, the Independent, and formerly Progressive Conservative incumbent in the next door riding of Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley, has announced his intention not to run again. The Liberals will nominate Tracy Parsons again, which is not the best news for a run by Elizabeth, but this riding is a much better choice. It will be up for grabs, and there is enough time to do the fieldwork needed to elect Elizabeth there. This will meet Elizabeth’s need to be close to home, and will meet her Party’s need to bloody well put the puck in the net. If Elizabeth wants a slam dunk, then perhaps she could, for just a teensy weensie second, consider a guaranteed seat in Ontario? It’s called Guelph, and Mike Nagy has done a bang up job, and I mean really excellent, of preparing the ground for another heavy hitting candidate.

If not Elizabeth, then perhaps an invitation to David Chernushenko to stay in Guelph for 6 months or so is in order? The press would really eat up a ‘Leader in Waiting’ story, and I guarantee David would have an enormous volunteer presence if he took this bold step. It could be that he will be running municipally in 2010, but David, consider well how a high national profile could affect your future. The leadership of the GPC would be yours on a platter were you the first elected Green.

I think that the Green Party of Canada has to start examining it’s devolution into a leaders cult. We need more breadth, more high profile candidates to move forward with. I think that we need to start actively seeking out, and recruiting ambitious souls who are Green at heart. There is no question that there are many hundreds of Canadians with high profiles, who might leap at the chance to be the first Green Party Member of Parliament. There is no question that there is a plethora of high profile local ‘talent’ that could make a go of it in one, or all of our stronger riding’s. I don’t expect that our Ottawa office will look all that kindly on any major figures who stand forward, so it’s going to be up to the local EDA’s. Have a look at my previous post about recruiting municipal politicians as candidates. Hook up with your local councillor, mayor, and the second and third place candidates in the last election. Check out the candidates from the losing Party’s in the last few elections. You never can tell, but I bet if every EDA in Canada were to approach all of the above, we would recruit quite a few strong contenders, and win a seat or two in the next election.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

The Self Identifying Green Party Voter

Get Out the Vote

In my last post, I wrote about the most basic election tactic of all. Canvassing the electorate in order to Identify the Vote, (ID) so that you can get out the vote (GOTV) for the advance polls especially. Put the two acronyms together and you have the campaigners mantra: In a nutshell, ID-GOTV.

Now lets face it. The average organized Green Party Campaign has maybe 40 volunteers, about half of who do stuff, like canvass, or put up signs. If your’ local Green Party has 20 volunteers, working hard door knocking for the whole campaign, they will each canvass one good sized poll, or two small to medium polls thoroughly. They will hopefully be targeting the polls with the highest historical green vote. Even so, with perhaps 5,000 people canvassed, you will identify 500 GPC voters if you’re lucky. That works out to 25 voters ID’d per volunteer.

OK Green Party sign

OK Green Party sign

So here’s a nifty idea for you to propose to your’ local Greens. You need to

Gathers Supporters!

Gathers Supporters!

set up a local website, or blog for the candidate. This is no big deal, and probably 100% of candidates should be doing this anyway. Have a NICE BIG (Like half of the entry page), button on your website asking visitors to Register as Green Party voters, with the button linking to a simple data form. Every single piece of campaign literature you print should have a bright splash on it inviting people to register to vote green at the featured website. Print up some BIG yellow and green stickers on all your election signs driving traffic to your’ campaign website.

Make sure that your’ Candidate stresses the website address at every all candidates debate, and every speaking opportunity the campaign can possibly arrange for him. Mainstreet, work the subway stations, or bus stations, or whatever high traffic corners exist in your riding, encouraging people to ‘register your support at electJANE-dot-ca.’ If you can get an additional 500 people from across your riding to self identify, by entering their own information on your signup form, you have just won the equivalent of 20 extra, super hard working volunteers.

Advance Polls Here!

Advance Polls Here!

Now you will have a substantial, and growing mail-list you can work with. When the time arrives for the advance polls, you can lead off your’ GOTV with an emailed reminder to Get out and VOTE! The advance polls are important, because you will have a chance to lock in this support early. This is important becuse the liberal Party is a threat to the Green party of Canada, inasmuch as they will definitely be telephoning Green Party supporters over the last weekend of the election in a bid to convince them to strategically vote Liberal. This list will be a great tool to retain, and build your supporters into a dedicated base for the next election. When you decide to have some fun with a regular Green Party pub night, you will be able to send the emailed invitation out to hundreds of self identified sympathisers. They might not be ready to join the EDA, but it sure can’t hurt to get them more interested! Don’t forget never to abuse your lists by sending out all kinds of unsolicited emails. ONLY use them for the important stuff, like having FUN! This is the kind of tool that the Green Party absolutely needs to employ if they want to build their EDA’s into strong, grassroots political machines.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

The Green Party threat to the Liberal Party of Canada

Iggy

The Foe: Iggy

In my previous post, I discussed the probable direction of the Ignatieff Liberal Party’s play for Green Party voters in the next election. The Liberals will be busily organizing, and refurbishing their electoral machine over the coming months. They are now preparing for a Federal election at the time of their choosing. I am convinced that they will dustbin the Green tax shift, and put in place a pablum environmental policy, with a couple of popular giveaways to use as talking points. Therein lies the opportunity for the Green Party of Canada.

As the Liberals will fashion their assault on the Green Party, so should the GPC be sharpening an attack of our own. It is a given that the GPC itself, and their core vote and membership are supportive of a revenue neutral carbon tax. That is because it is good policy. There will be a great many Canadians who were engaged enough in the last election to actually look into Stephan Dion’s tax proposals, and many of them will not want to see the policy strangled, and buried behind the woodshed. Personally I am most comfortable with campaigning from a position of policy strength. Furthermore, the type of educated, and affluent voter that will be attracted by this type of campaign, once committed to the Green Party of Canada, will be motivated to get out and vote on E-Day.

Therefore, we need to refashion our Green Party Tax shift, and go at it in a big way. No more negative campaigning. Focus on our tax policy, and hammer at the theme. It’s obvious to all that Dion failed to sell the program, and in a big way. The Conservatives successfully labelled it a tax grab, and that really squeezed an inarticulate Dion into an awkward place. That leaves me of two minds about how we package our plan. Do we lead in with a big income tax break, with large rebates for farmers and truckers? In that event, we should leave the carbon taxes as a footnote on how we will pay for it. The other option is to simply re-possess the Green Tax Shift, and thank the Liberals for spending millions promoting our plan in the 2008 election? There are risks, and benefits of both approaches, and that is what professional opinion polling is for.

There seems to be some very strange ideas in the Green Party as to why political party’s commission polls. The simple answer to that question is NOT to find out what current voting

Not what we really need to know

Not what we really need to know

intentions are, other than to guage the efficacy of the campaign. The purpose of polling is to obtain unbiased data on what message, and what policy presentation resonates best with which segment of the population. If the Green Party of Canada wants to clobber the Conservatives, Liberals, Bloc, or NDP, then they should be commissioning large surveys of the electorate. The opinion survey presents different policy statements to the respondents, and measures their reactions. With this information in hand, the Campaign theme, and message, (which are distinct) are crafted to win over the targeted electorate.

I do not have the resources, ($50k?) to commission such a survey, but the Green party does, and should, prior to crafting their Campaign plan for the next election. We can cheap out a little, and assume that the Tax shift is one of our major planks. That will allow us to shorten the survey, and figure out the best presentation to clobber our foes. I think that splitting off a small portion of the Liberal, and Conservative vote in the next election is going to prove the tipping point, and propel a handful of Green candidates into Parliament.

Forsooth 'tis to the Death!

Forsooth 'tis to the Death!

Just remember folks. Electoral politics isn’t a game. It’s civil society’s substitute for warfare, and the stakes are the same as those our medieval forbears saddled up, and hacked their neighbours to bits over. If we do not get serious about it, we can expect to be the sweet/shrill Party, sitting on the sidelines, and getting nowhere with our brilliant policy prescriptions forever more. Conversely, we can focus sharply on organizing, and preparing for the next election, and by pushing our platform forward onto the National stage, start making real changes to improve the lives of all Canadians.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

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?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Election Post Mortem 2: Green Party Canada

In my previous post, I critiqued communications. The campaign theme was flawed, the execution was acceptable. Now I’ll set my teeth into Organization.

Candidate selection: There was a certain amount of criticism when Sharon Labchuks letter

Candidate Recruits

Candidate Recruits

about candidate recruiting was leaked. Basically the criticism is not misplaced. Many candidates were recruited as a warm body to receive votes for the GPC. A warm body is better than nothing, (usually), but good candidates in 308 ridings should be a key objective. The job needs to start now because simply put, finding good candidates is a lot of work. Look at the key ridings, which I have short listed to about 20 ‘winnable’ ridings. These are the key ridings, with evenly distributed three or four way splits in the share of the popular vote. These ridings have to have quality candidates, able to bring something to the table.

Candidates must have ambition, and want to serve the electorate. If you want to find people who fit the bill, there’s one obvious place to look. Past political candidates. Look at municipal incumbents, and candidates from recent elections. Look at the candidates from recent Provincial,

Valuable Association

Valuable Association

and Federal elections. Party affiliation needn’t be a stumbling block. Peoples life circumstances change, and the GPC is, after all, made up largely of former members of other party’s. The name recognition, and the association with the GPC is valuable for ambitious would be municipal candidates, so win or lose, we certainly have something to offer. Past candidates have experience, local affiliations and associations, and a core volunteer group loyal to them. After that, look for local community groups, and community activists that have a strong following. The GPC organizer should seek the advice of the local EDA, but needs to get on the job NOW. Call the prospective candidates, point out the benefits that name recognition, and Green Party affiliation will have for them, and recruit them!

Training: The vast majority of EDA’s are made up of people who have heart, but no political

GPC Growth Chart

GPC Growth Chart

experience or skills. They need to be taught how important methodical canvassing, and preservation of data are. Keep it simple, keep it fun, but teach people how to run a campaign on a small budget. The first basic skill that every camapaign must master are how to motivate and retain volunteers. (Mostly putting them to productive work immediately, recognize their contribution, and liberally sprinkle the work with fun). The next is to systematically target, and implement their canvas. (Database templates, sample scripts, forms, etc.) The most important thing for organizers to teach is how to collect, and preserve data. The supporters canvassed are the source of future donations, members, and votes at the Federal, Provincial, and municipal level. Preserve this data to hand on to future EDA executives, like it was gold, which, of course, it is.

There’s so much more that could be said, but if these few things are done very well, then the GPC will start electing people. I do not know what all those GPC ‘oganizers’ on the payroll are up to, but from what I saw in the 2008 election, it wasn’t recruiting candidates, growing membership, of training the EDA’s.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

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!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

%d bloggers like this: