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Home: Blog--Guide to the Pundits' Guide

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

UPDATED: First Data From the 2008 Canadian Election Study

On Friday morning, I attended a presentation on the first data from the 2008 Canadian Election Study, given by Professor Elisabeth Gidengil of McGill University at the Canadian Political Science Association annual meeting at Carleton University.

[UPDATE: (August 30, 2009) The full paper is now available online as a PDF.]

Echoing the title of her 2002 book "Anatomy of a Liberal Victory", Friday's talk was entitled "Anatomy of a Liberal Defeat". With her kind permission, I'm going to try and cover the main points of the paper here. For those who don't know, the Canadian Election Study collects survey data before and after every general election, for academic study. The data is made publicly available one year after the election, and thus the 2008 data (in SPSS format) will be available at the CES website on October 14, 2009.

Professor Gidengil and her co-authors use a "multi-stage analysis" to examine the data: since the factors that affect voter choice are closer in time to the vote than longer-term demographic variables, they add the variables into the analysis in stages. Of course individuals' demographic characteristics don't change, but their effects can change over time, and this was certainly one of the main findings of the 2008 election survey.

Three main factors are argued to lie behind the Liberals' unsatisfactory results in 2008 (at least outside of Quebec, as that province will be reported on in a later paper):
  1. First, the data point to significant losses in support for the Liberal Party amongst two main groups in the last election:
    • Visible minorities - Liberal support dropped by 14% in this demographic group between the 2000 and 2008 elections, the first wave to the NDP in 2006, and the next wave to the Conservatives in 2008. [Although I was writing quickly ... it could have been that they dropped 14 percentage points over this time period, rather than 14%. UPDATE: It dropped by 14 percentage points, according to the actual paper which is now available online (PDF).]
    • Catholics - Liberal support dropped by 24% in this demographic group [but subject to the same reporting caveat as above; UPDATE: it actually dropped by a "massive" 24 percentage points, the actual paper clarifies] over the same time period. Once the almost exclusive domain of the Liberal party (possibly for class reasons as well), by 2006 Catholics were as likely to vote Conservative as Liberal, and by 2008 they were more likely to do so. Nevertheless Catholics are still less likely to vote Conservative than Protestants are.
    • The change in Catholics has occurred more rapidly than with visible minorities, but is more striking amongst Christian fundamentalists. However, their original move away from the Liberals did not appear to be the result of same-sex marriage as an issue, but rather the very strong impact of the so-called "sponsorship scandal" (2004-->2006). Only afterwards (2006-->2008) did moral issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage emerge as important motivators for this group.
    • Gidengil suggests that there may be a new voter cleavage emerging, in which the older cleavage of Protestant vs. Catholic is being replaced by Fundamentalist vs. Secular.
  2. Second, the Liberals have across the last four elections lost their head start over their competitors in "Party ID" (i.e., answers to a question that asks something like 'thinking of federal politics, which party do you normally feel closest to').
    • In 2000, the Liberals were far ahead of all others;
    • By 2004, the newly-merged Conservative party was up in Party ID, as was a reinvigourated NDP; while the Liberals started to drop;
    • In 2006, they were tied with the united Conservative party; and
    • By 2008, the Conservatives were ahead of the Liberals on this question, although not by enough to give them a huge head start either.
    • One-third of Liberal partisans in 2004 no longer considered themselves Liberals in 2008.
    • Also, in 2008 one-third of the remaining Liberal sympathizers nevertheless voted Conservative.
  3. Third, the Liberals didn't own a single election/policy issue in the last election. In fact, Professor Gidengil and her co-authors claim that "But for the economic downturn, the Liberals would have suffered a worse defeat in 2008".
    • The "Green Shift" was viewed as hurting the economy. Randomly interspersing that policy description with the term "Carbon Tax" in the survey, moreover, proved that the latter was perceived as even more damaging to the economy than the former. Gidengil called it a "strategic blunder" for them to focus so much attention on the Environment, which did not appear as a priority issue amongst the voters surveyed. The policy suffered from "bad timing and was poorly explained," she maintained.
    • The two leading issues, meanwhile, were Healthcare (owned by the NDP, along with Social Welfare issues) and the Economy (owned by the Conservatives).
    • The Liberals did not place first as the best managers of ANY issue in the 2008 survey, and only placed a very distant second to the Green Party on the Environment, barely ahead of the NDP.
    • On the question of Leadership, both NDP Leader Jack Layton and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper were rated ahead of Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion. It is interesting that a positive evaluation of Jack Layton did not have an effect on voting Liberal, however; "luckily for the Liberals," she adds.
The good news? Liberals were the overwhelming second choice of Conservative voters. However, the most popular choice for Liberals and NDPers are each other, so the Liberals should be wary, Gidengil says. The big strike against the NDP is its weak positioning on the economy, however.

Still, these findings argue that the Liberal Party needs to do more than just change its leader and dump the Green Shift to turn things around, Gidengil believes. They have to rebuild their partisan base.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pundits' Guide Into Pre-Election Mode

Regular readers will notice that the main blog page looks a little different this afternoon. Gone are the party-scorecard and chart from the 2008 General Election, and in their place are the Nominations Progress chart and table for the 41st General Election. I'll include any nominations for the vacant seats into the 41st General Election counts up until any by-elections are actually called.

Note that if you click on the coloured link for each party name in the Nominations Progress table above, it will take you to a list of that party's nominees, their ridings, and my source for the nomination info. I'll also be adding in candidate websites, as they become available (and if you know of any, please do send them along).

You will also notice that the Queries for the Current Election section on the "Search the Database" page have been moved back up to the top of the page, and have been updated to refer to the 41st General Election as well. To run any of these special queries, simply click on the hyperlink (for example, "Nomination counts by party and previous rank for the 41st General Election", which counts nominations by party according to whether they won the seat last time, came in second, etc.) and the query result table will appear in place. Click it again and the table will be hidden. On that page you will find queries showing:
  • Nomination counts by party and province/territory for the 41st General Election
  • Nomination counts by party and previous rank for the 41st General Election
  • Nominations Progress in Ridings with Retiring Incumbents
  • Nominations Progress in Ridings with First-Time Incumbents
  • Nominations Progress in Ridings with the Closest 4-Way Races
  • Nominations Progress in Ridings with the Closest 3-Way Races, and
  • Nominations Progress in Ridings with Close Races

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Friday, May 29, 2009

NDP Lifts Nomination Freeze for Incumbents and By-Elections

A reader who would know writes to advise that the NDP has lifted its nomination freeze for incumbents, is concentrating on the by-elections after that, and will strategically lift the freeze for other selective seats over the course of the summer. The nomination meeting for New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC will take place on Sunday, June 28, and plans will be made for the Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley, NS by-election nomination once the Nova Scotia provincial election is wrapped up.

Meanwhile, in other nomination news from the Bloc Québécois:
Help keep Guide readers up to date by sharing nomination news in your neck of the woods.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

How Many Riding Associations Does Each Party Have?

By the end of Friday May 29, each "registered association" of a party in a riding must file its annual financial statements for 2008 with Elections Canada in order to comply with s.403.35(4) of the Elections Act.

In preparation for these filings, I've been downloading the earlier filings in order to enter them into the Pundits' Guide database. As a first step, I compiled basic stats on the prevalence of organized riding associations by Party, across the previous reportable years.

Prevalence of Registered Association (aka Riding Association) Returns, by Party, Province and Year, 2004-2007



YTNTNUBCABSKMBONQCNBNSPENLAll
Lib


2007
2006
2005
2004
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
36
36
36
36
26
28
28
28
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
104
104
106
106
74
75
75
75
10
10
10
9
11
11
11
11
4
4
4
4
7
7
7
7
303
306
308
308


NDP


2007
2006
2005
2004
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1



36
36
36
36
28
28
28
28
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
106
106
105
106
73
69
58
43
10
10
8
7
11
11
11
11
4
4
4
4
7
7
7
7
306
301
287
272


Grn


2007
2006
2005
2004
1


1
1
1



22
19
18
17
14
8
2
1
5
1

6
5
1
1
79
75
72
59
26
15
10
4
4

1
1
11
1

2

1
1
1


172
125
106
84


BQ


2007
2006
2005
2004
























58
56
55
48












58
56
55
48


Cons


2007
2006
2005
2004
1
1
1
1
1
1
1



35
36
36
36
28
28
28
28
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
14
106
106
106
106
73
75
75
75
10
10
9
9
11
11
11
11
4
4
4
4
7
7
7
7
304
307
306
305


A couple of observations:
  • The Liberals were the only party to have a registered riding association in Nunavut over the four years.
  • The Liberals' missing Alberta ridings in 2007 were Edmonton East and Calgary East. Their missing Ontario ridings were Mississauga – Streetsville (both 2006 and 2007), which I assume may have had something to do with the floor-crossing and subsequent investigation and election spending charges against former Liberal M.P. Wajid Khan and their associated complications for the Liberal riding association; along with Willowdale in 2006 and Pickering – Scarborough East in 2007, for neither of which I have any guesses at possible explanations. Their missing Québec ridings were Alfred-Pellan (2004 to 2007), and Abitibi – Baie-James – Nunavik – Eeyou in 2007. Finally, Beauséjour, NB did not file a return in 2004.
  • Outside of Québec and New Brunswick, the NDP has been able to maintain riding associations in virtually every riding except Nunavut, as mentioned above, and Nipissing – Timiskaming, ON which did not file a return in 2005.
  • Meanwhile, since 2004, the number of NDP riding associations in New Brunswick and Québec has grown steadily to the point that New Brunswick is now fully covered, and only Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Portneuf – Jacques-Cartier are missing from Québec in 2007.
  • Indeed counterintuitively the NDP now has more riding associations from Québec registered with Elections Canada than does the Bloc. Same goes for both the Liberals and Conservatives.
  • The number of Green Party associations (they call them Electoral District Associations, or EDAs for short) has more than doubled in the four years from 2004 to 2007 from 84 to 172, although they have some weaker areas of the country (the Atlantic provinces outside of Nova Scotia, and the Prairies), and still only cover about one-third of Québec ridings.
  • The Bloc Québécois appears to targets its local riding association organizational efforts to the ridings it realistically has a chance ever to win, which appears to be why they show no more than 58 associations out of 75 ridings in Québec.
  • The Conservative Party, which was only formed in late 2003 by means of a merger between the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives, had the benefit of each founding partner's regional riding strengths, and as expected shows nearly perfect coverage across the country over the past 4 years, with the exceptions of Nunavut, as mentioned above, Madawaska – Restigouche, NB in the years 2004 and 2005 and the riding of Richmond, BC for some reason in 2007.
Naturally, we will be interested in more than merely the prevalence of party riding organizations, including their net worth, annual fundraising performance, and transfers to and from headquarters. But in order to get that data and get it ready for data entry into the Pundits' Guide database, this overview had to be completed first. I'm not aware of any other source which has compiled these counts, and so I hope you find the data interesting enough for now, until I can get some of the riding financial data entered and analyzed.

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NDP Nomination News Commences

The first signs of nomination news in NDP circles has emerged, with a brief in yesterday's Edmonton Journal:
  • Edmonton East, AB - Former Alberta NDP Leader and 2008 federal candidate Ray Martin has announced that he plans to seek his party's nomination once again. Martin obtained over 30% of the vote in the last campaign, moving ahead of the Liberal Party for the first time in many elections in this seat which was last held federally by the NDP from 1988 to 1993, and representing his party's 9th best non-incumbent riding performance in Western Canada during the last campaign and its second-best performance in Alberta after Linda Duncan who won in Edmonton – Strathcona. The riding is currently represented by long-time Conservative M.P. Peter Goldring, who outspent Martin 78% to 29% (Liberal candidate and student Stephanie Laskoski spent just 10% of the limit), but who had recently faced potential challenges to his own nomination prior to the results of the Conservative Party's referendum of his riding membership. No word yet on when the NDP nomination meeting will be held.

Meantime, in an election that could be held much sooner:

  • New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC - Coquitlam city councillor and Rivershed Society Executive Director Fin Donnelly has now confirmed, as we surmised here last weekend, that he will indeed run for the NDP nomination in this forthcoming by-election riding, vacated by M.P. Dawn Black's decision to run in the recent provincial election. The nomination is still expected to be contested, the TriCity News reports, as is the Conservative nomination in all likelihood.

Do you have nomination news to share with Pundits' Guide readers? If so, drop me a line, and I'll be sure to pass it along.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Potential Liberal Candidates Emerge

I'm hearing and reading about a few new potential Liberal candidates:
  • Welland, ON - A reader writes to advise that former Liberal M.P. John Maloney is seeking his party's nomination for this Golden Horseshoe riding again. First elected in 1993, Maloney actually fell to third place in the 2008 election, behind both first-time NDP M.P. Malcolm Allen and Conservative candidate Alfred Kiers, in a riding was the 7th closest race and 2nd closest 3-way race of the 2008 election and in fact ranked among the closest three-way races in each of the last 3 campaigns. Maloney and Kiers both spent some 95% of the limit, although while Kiers was heavily subsidized by party headquarters, Maloney raised most of his funds locally. The NDP's Allen came in at 76% of the limit, with about a third of his budget coming from the central campaign.
  • St. Catharines, ON - Further up the Golden Horseshoe, we previously reported that former Liberal M.P. Walt Lastewka would not be running again and that a candidate search committee had been struck, and are now hearing from a reader that city councillor Andrew Gill is interested in becoming Lastewka's replacement. The riding which previously showed a fairly constant raw Liberal vote, and a growing Conservative vote, saw one-third of previous Liberal voters stay home in 2008 (i.e., very few seemed to go anywhere else). First-time Conservative M.P. Rick Dykstra narrowly won in 2006 by winning more votes as turn-out increased, but was reelected with slightly more votes in 2008 even as turnout returned to 2004 levels.
  • Saanich – Gulf Islands, BC - Now that previous Liberal candidate Briony Penn has ruled herself out for the next election for financial reasons, The Tyee is reporting that her 2008 campaign manager, political consultant Kit Spence, is planning to try for the nomination in her place. Typically one of the few true four-way races in Canadian elections, the unusual circumstances of the last campaign propelled the Liberals back into second place in this Vancouver Island riding, coming within 4.1% of five-term Conservative M.P. Gary Lunn, and leaving the other opposition candidates much further behind.
A commenter on an earlier blogpost was also kind enough to write and confirm that, indeed:
  • Mississauga – Erindale, ON - Former Liberal M.P. Omar Alghabra won an uncontested nomination tonight in his former riding, becoming the second Liberal candidate to be nominated for the forthcoming election. Alghabra will face off against first-time Conservative M.P. Paul Calandra Bob Dechert (thanks to the commenter for pointing out my bleary-eyed boo-boo).
So, by my count, there are now 15 former Liberal M.P.s seeking to regain their seats or at least strongly considering it (Alghabra, Bakopanos, Bell, Boshcoff, Godbout, Keeper, Maloney, Paradis, Pratt, Redman, Speller, St.-Amand, Telegdi, Temelkovski, Valley), two of whom have already been nominated (Alghabra and Temelkovski).

Please get in touch if you know about nominations in your part of the country or the political spectrum, and I'll share the news with other Pundits' Guide readers.

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Liberals Nominate First Candidate; Second to Follow Tonight

As expected, the Liberal Party has nominated its first candidate for the next general election:
  • Oak Ridges – Markham, ON -Lui Temelkovski was nominated last night to run for the Liberals in an effort to regain his seat from first-time Conservative M.P. Paul Calandra in this seat north of Toronto. The riding is the second-most populous in the country, and is in the top 10% of ridings by percentage of visible minority population, including notably Chinese (22.11%) and South Asian (8.36%). Calandra defeated Temelkovski in a two-way fight by just 545 votes (1.5 votes per poll, or 0.7%, the 9th closest race of the last election.
In addition, Omar Alghabra is expected to be acclaimed at a meeting tonight in Mississauga – Erindale, ON.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

More Liberal Nomination News

Following up on some questions raised by a commenter a few blogposts ago, I can report some more news on a few more Liberal nomination races:
  • Kitchener – Waterloo, ON - Former Liberal M.P. Andrew Telegdi is indeed running to reclaim his party's nomination in this riding, a reader of the What-do-I-know-Grit's blog has confirmed. However, another reader tells me that first-term Waterloo city councillor and Engineer Diane Freeman is also in the running. The meeting is slated for Sunday June 14, and the winner will be taking on first-term Conservative M.P. Peter Braid, who took the seat from Telegdi by just 17 votes in 2008.
  • Ancaster – Dundas – Flamborough – Westdale, ON - Another reader writes to say that Hamilton lawyer Andrew Iler will be running for the Liberal nomination in this Golden Horseshoe riding, which is currently held by two-term Conservative M.P. David Sweet. No date appears to be set for the meeting as yet.
  • Niagara Falls, ON - The Liberals' 2008 candidate, Marketing Director Joyce Morocco, would like to run once again, however the reader advises that there may be others interested as well. The seat is currently held by three-term Conservative M.P. Rob Nicholson. Again, no meeting date appears to have been set as yet.
Do you have news about nominations in your corner of the world? Share with Pundits' Guide readers by dropping me a line.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nomination News: Two Conservative Candidates Step Forward

Late word of two more Conservative nomination candidates stepping forward out west:
  • Edmonton – Strathcona, AB - A third hat is being thrown into the ring for the only unheld Conservative seat in Alberta, as University of Alberta student Matthew Sztym joined the nomination race just before last Friday's deadline. Sztym will face off against Ryan Hastman and Linda Slade for the right to take on first-time NDP M.P. Linda Duncan in the next election.
  • New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC - Port Moody city councillor Diana Dilworth is the first candidate to announce her interest in the Conservative nomination for this vacant riding. No word on when a nomination meeting will be held. The seat opened up after the resignation of Dawn Black to run provincially in the recent election. Conservative candidate Yonah Martin came within 3% of Black in the last election, however Martin has since been appointed to the Senate.

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A Look at Candidate Election Spending: Part II

The article below is reprinted with the kind permission of the Hill Times, from their Monday May 11 edition. Part I can be found here.

Money and votes: the effects of election spending by candidates in federal elections, 1997 to 2006

Increased competitiveness in a federal riding associated with increased spending for candidates who are serious contenders.

By ALICE FUNKE and W.T. STANBURY

In this piece, we examine the relationship between candidates' outlays on "election expenses" and the percentage of votes they obtained, and use some statistical techniques to answer some interesting questions: 1. How closely is spending related to outcome? 2. How is spending different in close races? and 3. How much of an increase in a candidate's share of the vote could be expected for an increase in spending? As noted in our previous piece in The Hill Times (May 4, 2009), candidate (and party) spending on election expenses has been subject to legal limits since 1974.

The relationship between campaign spending and votes

To examine the relationship between candidate spending and vote shares, we used a simple correlation. A correlation coefficient is a number that shows whether two things are related, and if so how strongly, but it can't tell you which caused the other. Higher correlations (which vary in absolute terms between zero and one) indicate stronger relationships. Negative numbers mean they are related but move in opposite directions (i.e., more of one means less of another). And a value near zero means there is very little relationship at all.

When we combine all candidates for each election there was a fairly high positive correlation (0.84) between the per cent of the limit spent and the percentage of votes obtained (Table 1). We must be careful not to jump to conclusions about why, i.e., we can't conclude that higher spending levels led to more votes based merely on the observed positive correlations. It could be instead that the perception of "win-ability" influenced spending levels, or even that strength of support influenced fundraising capacity which, in turn, affected spending. To further analyse the nature of the relationship we used regression analysis, the results of which are reported below.

If we look at the correlations by party, combining all four elections, we find that the correlations were lower except for the NDP (0.84). For the major parties, the lowest correlation coefficient was for the Conservatives (0.44 for two elections) and the Liberals (0.51) and the BQ (0.52). By comparison, the correlation for Reform/Canadian Alliance was 0.75 for two elections (Table 1).

When we consider the correlation between election expenses and votes for each party and each election separately, we find it varied greatly. In 1997 for the Liberal candidates it was only 0.23. In 2006 for the Conservatives, it was 0.26. Yet in 1997, the Liberals won a majority government (155 of 301 seats) and in 2006, the Conservatives won a minority government (124 of 308 seats).

At the other end of the spectrum, correlation between spending and votes for the Progressive Conservatives in 2000 was 0.81. Yet they won only 12 seats! This could suggest that had the low level of average spending (23.7 per cent of the limit) been increased, the PCs might have won more votes and perhaps more seats. Or it could mean that PC candidates planned their campaign spending based on their perceived chances of winning the seat.

In each of the four elections the correlation between spending and votes for NDP candidates was 0.85 to 0.89. Yet the NDP elected only 13 to 29 candidates in each election (average of 21). The problem for the NDP is that, on average, its candidates spend only 20.1 to 28.4 per cent of the limit. Again, more spending might have resulted in more votes, and possibly more seats. But it might equally be true that the NDP was very good at focusing riding-level spending where candidates had a good chance of being elected.

We interpret the results in Table 1 as follows: The higher the correlation (especially where overall spending levels are lower), the more targeted the parties were in their campaign efforts. This is based on our reading the correlations together with the average per cent spent and its standard deviation (not reported here). We found that if there was a low average per cent spent and a high standard deviation, there was a high correlation between per cent spent and percentage of votes obtained. This could be described as the campaign model of a smaller party targeting ridings in the hopes of winning seats in a first-past-the-post electoral system.

In cases where the average per cent spent was higher, with a low standard deviation, we found a low correlation between per cent spent and per cent of vote obtained. That could be described as the campaign model of the winning party: if the money is available, spend as much as possible, in as many ridings as possible, in the hope of seat gains or to make it harder for opponents to compete.

The lower correlations for the Liberals in 1997 and the Conservatives in 2006 suggest that they had such well-funded campaigns they could spend a lot everywhere. The Bloc Québécois elected more candidates in 2004 and 2006, even though they spent a lot less. The details of the so-called "sponsorship scandal" and the subsequent Gomery inquiry certainly gave them a good issue to run on in those two elections. Furthermore, most of the BQ candidates were by that time longstanding incumbents (the benefits of incumbency were discussed by us in The Hill Times, April 27, 2009), and few of them found themselves in close races.

The Greens are a puzzle. There is only a weak correlation (0.57 to 0.64) between their candidates' election spending and outcomes (defined as percentage of vote) over the period studied, and we did not find any intermediate explanatory variables based on data available to us. Their own members are closely studying the relationship between spending and outcomes, but perhaps the answer is that they do not yet have sufficient history and data to target properly, have not maximized the effectiveness of their spending, or else cannot agree on a "rising tide" versus a "beachhead" strategy in the first-past-the-post context.

Note that since the public subsidies for parties came into effect on Jan. 1, 2004, there is also an incentive for parties to try to increase their total popular vote, even if they win no more seats. Thus, there is a reward for increasing your raw vote even in non-winnable ridings. The strategic question for parties is whether the cost of higher spending to get more votes exceeds the increased subsidy over the period to the next election. Moreover, it may pay safe incumbents to spend less, in order to maximize the return on investment for their party in their ridings.

Spending and outcomes for incumbents and challengers

Incumbent MPs who chose to run again had a high rate of success (average of 86.1 per cent) in the four federal elections between 1997 and 2006. (For more detail on the re-election rates for incumbent MPs, see our piece in The Hill Times, April 27, 2009.) In each of the four elections between 1997 and 2006, incumbents who were re-elected spent on average slightly less (from 2.1 to 4.2 percentage points) than did challengers (i.e., non-incumbents) who were elected. (Note that the data in Table 2 combines the two categories of successful challengers: those who defeat an incumbent seeking re-election; and those who win an open seat for their party.)

Challengers who were unsuccessful spent an average of only 21.1 per cent to 28.7 per cent of their limit on election expenses. This was typically less than one-third what winners spent whether Incumbents or Challengers (Table 2).

Spending in close races

It is reasonable to expect that in close races the leading candidates will spend a higher percentage of the limit on election expenses, and indeed this is what we found. We defined three types of mutually exclusive close races: two-way, three-way, and four-way. See the definitions below Table 3.

Over the four federal elections between 1997 and 2006, there were 121 (9.9 per cent) close two-way races, 80 (6.6 per cent) close three-way races, and 24 (two per cent) close four-way races. Thus "not close races" comprised 81.5 per cent of all races (Table 3). Note that for all four elections combined, each race had an average of 5.6 candidates, but there were some races with as few as three candidates.

Looking at all 1,218 races without regard to how close they were, the winner spent 77.7 per cent of the limit compared to 66.4 per cent for the second place candidate and 31.8 per cent for the third place candidate (Table 3).

In all four types of races, the winner still on average outspent all rivals, although the difference between the winner and the second place candidate was minute (81.5 per cent vs. 81.1 per cent of the limit) in close two-way races. In the 121 close two-way races, the tiny difference in average per cent spent means that in many cases (65 of 121), the winners were not the highest spenders.

In the close three-way races, the third place candidate spent, on average, 66.7 per cent of the limit compared to 73.2 per cent from the second place candidate and 78.2 per cent by the winner (Table 3). These differences were small enough that again slightly more lower-spending candidates were able to win in the close three-way races (45 of 80). Interestingly, when we broke these numbers down further (not reported here), we noticed that an incumbent was more likely to be reelected in a close three-way race with two high-spending opponents, but was slightly less likely to be reelected with just one high-spending opponent.

Close four-way races (only two per cent over the four general elections studied) did not result in those winners spending more on average than in close two-way races, but they did spend just slightly more than the winner of close three-way races (78.4 per cent vs. 78.2 per cent) (Table 3). Close four-way races did not result in a high per cent spent by all of the top contenders. The winner and #2 were close (78.4 per cent vs. 72.7 per cent), while #3 (56.5 per cent) and #4 (43.3 per cent) were far behind, although their spending was significantly higher than the average unsuccessful challenger. And in 13 of 24 of the close four-way races, the winner was not the candidate who spent the most.

As expected, the winners who spent the least to win were found in "not close races": 77.2 per cent of the limit on average. And in such races, the gap between the winner and the second place candidate was greatest (13.3 percentage points), with the highest spender winning the race much more often (614 of 993). Included here were Conservative incumbents in Alberta, Bloc incumbents in Quebec, and longstanding incumbents of several parties in the Atlantic provinces. By comparison, in close three-way races the spending gap between the winner and the third place candidate was 11.5 percentage points (Table 3).

What factors determine vote share, and by how much

To separate out the effects of several variables, we used a linear regression equation for all candidates in the four general elections combined (N=6799, R squared=.832, Standard Error= .076) with "Per Cent of the Vote" (the percentage of the valid ballots obtained, a.k.a. "vote share") as the dependent variable (Table 4). Details of the regression analysis are explained below the table, but here are the major findings.

All other things being equal, for every percentage point increase in election expenses, candidates can expect a 0.28 percentage point increase in their share of votes obtained (significant at .001 level) (Table 4). This is higher than a previous estimate of 0.21 in the 1980s (D. Keith Heintzman, "Electoral Competition, Campaign Expenditure and Incumbency Advantage," cited in Laschinger & Stevens, Leaders and Lesser Mortals).

Being an incumbent is worth an additional 0.19 percentage points in the percentage of votes obtained (significant at .001 level) (Table 4). This seems small when we consider that the simple re-election rates for incumbents averaged 86 per cent for the four elections. However, the regression result is taking into account five other variables simultaneously, and note that this includes both first-time and long-time incumbents, as well as incumbents in close fights versus those who were easily reelected with large pluralities.

Running for a party which had MPs in the House at dissolution, all other things being equal, adds 0.071 percentage points in the percentage of votes obtained (significant at .001 level). Again, this seems a small advantage compared to the minute election rate for candidates who were not a member of a party with Commons representation.

Where a race was close (the winner getting less than five per cent more votes than the second place candidate), the effect is to add only 0.079 percentage points to the votes obtained by candidates (significant at .001 level). But remember that winners can win close races with smaller vote shares than many challengers obtain in non-close races. In fact, when we computed correlations for different kinds of candidates (not reported here), we obtained insignificant but negative correlations between per cent spent and per cent of the vote received by winners (whether incumbent or newly-elected), indicating that candidates running to win in all but the safest seats typically spend at least 75 per cent of the limit, regardless of the vote share it takes to win in their riding (see Table 2).

The year of the election and hence the number of major parties contesting it (we set 2004 and 2006, the post-unite-the-right elections, as zero and 1997 and 2000 as 1), had a negative effect on vote share (significant at .001 level). This makes sense when you consider that fewer parties dividing the electorate translates into higher vote shares for candidates.

We assume that the rest of the variability in vote share is explained by the usual demographic variables, party loyalty, candidate attractiveness, campaign effects and regional voting patterns.

Summary and conclusions

From these results we conclude that increased competitiveness in a riding is associated with increased spending for candidates who are serious contenders. Becoming a contender costs money, but once dominant (i.e., an incumbent) in a riding that candidate can scale back on "election expenses" somewhat.

The data do not support a simplistic prescription that says "spend more to improve your vote share," since if everyone followed that advice everyone's vote shares would decline, and in our first-past-the-post system only one candidate gets to win in each riding. Larger parties who are dominant in an election will spend more everywhere (even in ridings they don't win), partly because they can, and partly to make it harder for their opponents to challenge them financially. Smaller parties win seats by targeting their spending to ridings with good growth prospects.

Candidates who are not trying to win, but are trying to raise their party's vote total, can improve their vote share somewhat through increased spending. However the resulting benefits of an increase in the public subsidy goes to the party rather than the candidate. Further, this will work only where some candidates in a riding raise their spending relative to others. The return on investment for that strategy is a 0.28 per cent of the vote increase for every additional per cent of the expense limit spent.

Using 2006 as the example, spending an additional one per cent of the limit in each of the 308 ridings would have cost a party approximately $250,000, resulting in additional roughly 41,500 votes, worth approximately $315,300 in additional public subsidies over four years (assuming an average of $1.90 over the period following 2006), for a 26.1 per cent return on investment. However, if the next election were held after just two years rather than four (as in fact it was), the same additional 41,500 votes would have been worth only $157,600 in added subsidies, for a negative 36.9 per cent return.

Simple formulae about spending and results will never replace the acumen and experience of political parties and their strategists. However, we hope we have contributed some interesting findings for them to consider in their efforts.

Alice Funke is the publisher of the Pundits’ Guide to Canadian Federal Elections (punditsguide.ca). W.T. Stanbury is professor Emeritus, UBC. He conducted research on party and election finance for the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform & Party Finance (Lortie Commission).

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Table 1: Average Percent Spent, and Correlations Between Percent of Limit Spent and Percent of Total Vote Obtained for Candidates by Party for Four Federal General Elections, 1997 to 2006

Table 2: Average Percent of Election Expenses Limit Spent by Candidates in Relation to Outcome for Four Federal General Elections, 1997 to 2006

Table 3: Analysis of Percent of Elections Expenses Limit Spent by Candidates by Type of Race in Four Federal General Elections Combined, 1997 to 2006

Table 4: Regression Results, All Candidates in Four Federal Elections, 1997 to 2006

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Nomination News: More Green Candidates

Continuing our look at the first few nomination meetings entered into the Elections Canada database, we turn to the Green Party, which has a few more familiar candidates in place:
  • Kingston and the Islands, ON - Area businessman Eric B. Walton won an uncontested nomination on April 7 for his third run against Commons Speaker and Liberal M.P. Peter Milliken in this eastern Ontario riding, which was the Greens' 27th best riding in the last election.
  • Toronto Centre, ON - Earlier this month, Greens met in downtown Toronto to select their candidate to take on two-term Liberal M.P. Bob Rae. Writer-educator Ellen Michelson who also ran in 2008 won the nomination uncontested on May 2, in a riding that was the party's 18th best last time around.
  • Kitchener – Waterloo, ON - The party also renominated its 2008 candidate uncontested at a May 7 meeting in this riding recently won by first-time Conservative M.P. Peter Braid. Businessperson Cathy MacLellan will try to improve on her previous performance, which was her party's 35th strongest in the last election.
This list doesn't include the first Green Party candidate to be nominated by my count, namely Stan Grizzle who received his party's nod for Northumberland – Quinte West, ON on March 28. However, that nomination meeting has not been reported to Elections Canada as yet.

I don't know what we can tell about the Green Party's candidate search strategy by this early list, except to guess that ridings with well-organized electoral district associations (EDAs or riding associations as some parties call them) are the ones likely to be getting a head start.

So here is my unofficial tabulation of major party nominations to date:
  • Conservatives: 143 incumbents + 2 challengers = 145/308
  • Bloc: 11 incumbents; at least 3 more meetings scheduled including one tonight in Abitibi – Témiscamingue, QC
  • Greens: 4 challengers; at least 1 more meeting scheduled in June for Dufferin – Caledon, ON
  • Liberals: 0 incumbents (42/77 are eligible however); 4 meetings scheduled for this week and mid-June
  • NDP: nominations still frozen
By the way, the Christian Heritage Party has also nominated Geoffrey Capp as its candidate for the riding of Lethbridge, AB.

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Deadline Looms for Liberal Incumbents While First Nomination Meetings Held

As reported yesterday by Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, Liberal incumbents have until a week from Monday (June 1) to meet the criteria for automatic incumbent renomination.

To avoid an open nomination contest, Liberal M.P.s must ensure that their riding associations have at least 400 members, and at least 10 monthly contributors to the party's Victory Fund (a mechanism that sets up monthly pre-authorized contributions of $10 split 50:50 between party headquarters and the riding association). Delacourt reports that 42 of 77 incumbents have done so to date, including from the GTA:
If anyone can provide the rest of the list for our readers, please pass it along.

In other Liberal nomination news, the What-do-I-know-Grit has a list of four upcoming nomination meetings, three of them scheduled for the coming week (thanks to a reader for sending this over):
  • Oak Ridges – Markham, ON - Riding Liberals will meet on Tuesday, May 26 to select their candidate for the next election in this riding north of Toronto. Former Liberal M.P. Lui Temelkovski will be running to regain his seat, which was narrowly lost to first-time Conservative M.P. Paul Calandra in 2008 by 545 votes in the 9th closest race of the election. By my count, this would make Oak Ridges – Markham the first Liberal riding in the country to nominate a candidate.
  • Mississauga – Erindale, ON - The next day, south west of Toronto, area Liberals will meet to select their candidate (on May 27), and here again former Liberal M.P. Omar Alghabra will be attempting a comeback as well. He lost to first-time Conservative M.P. Bob Dechert by 397 votes in the 8th closest race of the last election.
  • Kitchener Centre, ON - Next up is this western Ontario urban riding, where former Liberal M.P. Karen Redman is hoping to regain her former seat that was lost to first-time Conservative M.P. Stephen Woodworth by 339 votes in the 10th closest race of the campaign. The nomination meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 29.
  • Kitchener – Waterloo, ON - Moving next door to the fourth meeting, about two weeks later, on Sunday, June 14, Liberals will be picking their candidate to take on first-time Conservative M.P. Peter Braid, who defeated Liberal M.P. Andrew Telegdi by just 17 votes in the closest riding anywhere in the country in 2008, in a result that was only finally settled by a judicial recount.
As with the Conservatives, the earliest Liberal nomination meetings give us an indication of what their priority target ridings will be going in to the next election. From this selection, we'd have to observe that it's urban and suburban seats in southern Ontario which were narrowly lost to the Conservatives in 2008.

Please add to our repository of knowledge about the state of nomination races in the country, by dropping me a line.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Conservative Target Seats Evident From Early Candidate Picks

If any additional evidence were needed of the kinds of seats the Conservative Party plans to target in the forthcoming election (and they seem to leave very little of this organizational detail to chance), the choice of their first two non-incumbent candidates to be nominated pretty much confirms their new focus on Area Code 905, and in particular the rapidly-growing ridings in the Brampton area:
  • Brampton – Springdale, ON - As already reported here last month, on Friday April 17 businessman Parm Gill won an uncontested nomination to represent his party once again against three-term Liberal M.P. Ruby Dhalla. Gill lost to Dhalla by 773 votes in the 17th closest race of the last election, but slightly outspent her (99% to 91% of the spending limit). Dhalla was recently confirmed to have met her party's requirement for automatic incumbent renomination, the Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt is reporting this morning. Thus their rematch will make this a riding to watch.
  • Brampton West, ON - Next door, in Canada's most populous riding according to the 2006 census (open up the "Total Population" link under the "Census Data" tab, and note that the National Rank for the 2006 Census is "1"), Conservatives also renominated their 2008 candidate without a contest on Thursday, April 30. Lawyer and former Olympic athlete Kyle Seeback missed winning this vacant Liberal seat by just 231 votes (0.4% of the vote, or just 0.8 votes per poll) against first-term Liberal M.P. Andrew Kania, in the 6th closest contest of the last campaign. The two were closely-matched in campaign spending, although Seeback raised nearly double what Kania did, with the latter depending on a $30K transfer from party headquarters.
Today I'm working my way through the 13 new nominations posted to the Elections Canada nominations database, but if you have other nomination news from your corner of Canada, please do get in touch.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

A week's worth of Nomination News

As promised, a catch-up on nomination news from the past week.
  • Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie, QC - Five-term Bloc M.P. Bernard Bigras was renominated this past Sunday.
  • Louis-Hébert, QC - First-term Bloc M.P. Pascal-Pierre Paillé was also expected to be renominated this past Wednesday.
  • Ottawa – Orléans, ON - As reported here on several previous occasions, the Liberal nomination race in this riding was expected to be competitive, and indeed two additional names surfaced this past week. Former Liberal M.P. Marc Godbout is said to be considering a run according to a reader, who adds that local Lawyer David Bertschi has also set up a Facebook group to assist his nomination. Godbout and Bertschi would be joining Ottawa city councillor Rainer Bloess and financial planner Judith Cane. The riding is currently represented by two-term Conservative M.P. Royal Galipeau.
  • Oak Ridges – Markham, ON - The reader is also hearing that former two-term Liberal M.P. Lui Temelkovski is considering a run in his old riding, but meantime Khalid Usman's Facebook group has disappeared and his nomination campaign may have ended. The riding was narrowly won by first-time Conservative M.P. Paul Calandra in 2008 by a margin of just 545 votes (0.7% of the vote, or just 1.5 votes per poll), the 9th closest race in the last election. Although Temelkovski had beaten big-spending Conservatives on two previous occasions, his $68K budget which had represented 78% of the limit in 2004, fell to 68% of the limit in 2006, and down to just 57% in 2008, due to the riding's rapidly rising population. Meanwhile, his Conservative opponents' budgets kept pace with the growing spending limits, achieving 93% to 97% of the limit on each outing.
  • Sarnia – Lambton, ON - With the freeze on Liberal Party nominations in unheld ridings now lifted, Sarnia-area Liberals will be striking a candidate search committee, but already seem to have a contested nomination on their hands. Both former 2008 Liberal candidate controller Tim Fugard and his nomination opponent city councillor Anne Marie Gillis are planning to run, according to the Sarnia Observer. The riding is currently represented by two-term Conservative M.P. Pat Davidson, who quadrupled her margin of victory in 2008 in an election that saw the Liberals fall to third place behind both Davidson, who outspent Fugard 68% of the limit to 35%, and city councillor Andy Bruziewicz for the NDP, who spent just half (18% of the limit) of Fugard's budget. Thanks to another reader for this clipping.
  • Bruce – Grey – Owen Sound, ON - Green Party leader Elizabeth May is apparently considering a number of options in terms of either by-election or general election ridings, and confirmed to the Owen Sound Sun Times in a recent phone interview that this central Ontario riding was one of the seven or eight being considered by her and her advisors. Reaction has ranged from relief in some normally critical Green quarters, to encouragement from local three-term Conservative M.P. Larry Miller, to eye-rolling from the NDP blogger BloggingHorse, and a consideration of the strategic costs to Green Party riding development of her delaying the decision much longer from the Jurist at Accidental Deliberations. Various other bloggers have started circulating this link of Ms. May telling Don Newman last October that she was "never running anywhere but Central Nova," an assertion she in fact began to revisit on advice after the conclusion of the election.
  • Dufferin – Caledon, ON - As previous speculated here, Ard Van Leeuwen is indeed planning another run for the Green Party in this riding, and after another prospective candidate dropped out of the running, it is expected that Van Leeuwen will be unopposed at a nomination meeting scheduled for sometime in June. The riding is currently held by three-term Conservative M.P. David Tilson.
  • Saanich – Gulf Islands, BC - Area Liberals have now launched a candidate search process since 2008 candidate Briony Penn recently decided not to run again, citing the financial costs of being identified as a partisan candidate. Penn, a consultant who had to relinquish work for government and media clients once she declared her candidacy some 18 months before the last election wound up being called, told The Tyee's Hook blog that "I can't earn a living when I'm a candidate." She added that "The elephant in the room for women in politics is money. It's got to be named. It's got to be addressed." Penn believes that to enter politics these days, people must either be "rich or they have someone supporting them," a situation that is particulary hard on single, self-employed women, she says. The riding recently re-elected five-term Conservative M.P. Gary Lunn after a hotly-contested and highly controversial four-way race that featured: an aborted effort at a run-off primary between three non-Conservative candidates all of whom shared a history with the Green Party, the resignation of NDP candidate Julian West over 15-year old allegations of inappropriate skinny-dipping, and one of the largest number of registered third-parties of any riding in the country both supporting and opposing Lunn.
This puts my count of former Liberal MPs contemplating a return to politics at 13.

Updating an earlier post, the Bloc Québécois has accelerated its pace of nominations from a month ago, where it's now expecting to complete 30 nominations by the end of June (up from an estimated 20), and 60 nominations by the end of the summer (up from their earlier goal of 40), according to leader Gilles Duceppe.

I've also just discovered that some 13 nominations have been recorded in the Elections Canada nominations database, including several not yet listed here, but it's late and I think I'll have to keep those for another blogpost tomorrow.

Finally, there are some moves taking place in Green country that are being interpreted as opening salvos in a potential Green Party leadership race for their next leadership convention in 2010. Green Party of Ontario leader Frank de Jong has just stepped down from his position with the provincial party, and is making no secret of his interest in leading the federal party again, although he is more recently backing away from earlier suggestions that he would challenge Ms. May. Should May win a seat in either a by-election or a spring 2010 general election, she is likely innoculated from such a challenge, but that only raises the stakes for her in choosing which riding to run in next.

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Third Seat Now Officially Vacant

Elections Canada announced this afternoon that it had received official notification today of Paul Crête's resignation yesterday and the resulting vacancy in his Québec riding of Montmagny – L'Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup, QC.

The procedure involved was quite interesting actually, because apparently Commons Speaker Peter Milliken is out of town, and obviously Crête needed to resign quickly in order to run in the provincial Rivière-du-Loup by-election that was just called, so two Members of the House of Commons had to sign the warrant instead of Milliken in order for it to be sent to the Chief Electoral Officer. I wonder who they were.

Since the warrant was received today, we can now calculate the relevant dates for all three vacant ridings as follows. I plan to shorten this riding name to MIKR in certain situations, as I have already done with CCMV for Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley, NS and NWC for New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC.


MIKRCCMVNWC
Date of resignation:Thu May 21, 2009
Thu Apr 30, 2009Mon Apr 13, 2009
Date Speaker's warrant received by CEO:Fri May 22, 2009
Mon May 4, 2009Thu Apr 16, 2009
Earliest date the by-election could be called
(11 days later):
Tue June 2, 2009
Fri May 15, 2009Mon Apr 27, 2009
Earliest date the by-election could be held
(first Monday at least 36 days after that):
Mon Jul 13, 2009
Mon Jun 22, 2009Mon Jun 8, 2009
Latest date the by-election could be called
(180 days later):
Wed Nov 18, 2009
Sat Oct 31, 2009Tue Oct 13, 2009
Latest date the by-election could be held
(first Monday at least 36 - [no maximum] days later, or the next non-Statuatory holiday):
on or after Tue Dec 29, 2009
on or after
Mon Dec 7, 2009
on or after
Mon Nov 23, 2009

So looking across the three ridings, the earliest they could all be called together is Tuesday June 2 for Monday July 13, and the latest they could all be called together is Tuesday October 13 for Monday November 23, 2009.

As a commenter to my previous post pointed out, the Nova Scotia provincial election and Québec provincial by-election now underway effectively rule out any by-election calls for June dates. Also, the Québec-wide municipal elections are being held this November 1, with a 45-day campaign period.

Thus I'm sticking with my earlier guess of a Monday August 3 call for Tuesday September 8, or a Monday August 10 call for Monday September 14 (the House reconvenes on Monday September 21).

Catching up on nomination news for the ridings, there are a couple of items to report:
  • New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC - The local Green Party electoral district association (EDA) has called their annual general meeting for Monday June 15 to make plans for their candidate search and a summer nomination meeting.
  • New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC -Public Eye Online is also reporting a possible new entrant into the race, Coquitlam city councillor and Rivershed Society Executive Director Fin Donnelly. Curiously, though, his party affiliation is not mentioned. Donnelly did tell Public Eye Online that he is planning an announcement next week, and confirmed that he would not be running for the Liberals in the riding. His municipal election website from last November uses the colour green, but also features an endorsement from former provincial NDP cabinet minister and Coquitlam MLA John Cashore (Harvey's dad, for those following the Oliphant Commission). And a commenter on Babble believes that Donnelly will in fact be running for the NDP nomination. If so, he would be joining fellow Coquitlam city councillor Barry Lynch, and possibly New Westminster city councillor Lorrie Williams and health sector administrator Zoe Royer who ran next door federally in 2008 in the riding of Port Moody – Westwood – Port Coquitlam, BC, as previously reported here. No nomination meeting date has been set as yet.
If you know of nomination news in any of the by-election ridings, do get in touch and pass it along.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick Update on Vacant Seats

Hi folks, back from the Big Apple, and while I have a few items I'll be catching up on here in the next day or so, there are a few points to note quickly on the status of vacant seats.

First, Québec Premier Jean Charest called two provincial by-elections yesterday. Given that federal Bloc Québécois M.P. Paul Crête was nominated earlier this month as the Parti Québécois candidate for the Rivière-du-Loup by-election, his federal riding of Montmagny – L'Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup, QC is set to become vacant very soon. Some early babble and at least one media pundit are already speculating on the possibility that Mario Dumont, having vacated his provincial seat, might be a contender for the federal Conservative nomination there. [UPDATE: I gather he was spotted at Prime Minister's Montreal fundraiser last night, for whatever that tells us.]

Second, unless you believe that Monday June 29 is a likely day for a federal by-election call (it sounds a bit late in the school year to me), we've now passed the last date on which the two outstanding federal by-elections could be called for Monday June 22 (i.e., they had to have been called by last Friday May 15 to occur on June 22) and therefore it is unlikely that those two seats will be filled before the fall, by which point Crête's vacant seat would be added to the list.

So, there will be one NDP, one Independent Conservative, and one Bloc seat up for grabs in the next round of by-elections whenever they're called. By-elections held on the Tuesday after Labour Day (September 8) would have to be called by the Civic Holiday in Ontario (Monday, August 3), or by-elections held on Monday September 14 (the last available date before the House is scheduled to return on Monday September 21) would have to be called by Monday August 10.

Stories to watch for in this round of by-elections include:
So far, the NDP appears to have a contested nomination on their hands in New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC, the Conservatives and Liberals both have candidates actively seeking their parties' nominations in Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley, NS, and as mentioned above Paul Forseth would like to return to Ottawa as well.

If you hear of nomination news in any of these prospective by-election seats, or anywhere else, please drop me a line to pass it along. Next I'll be posting a reprint of Part II of my Hill Times series on Candidate Election Spending with Bill Stanbury from last week, and then catching up on all the nomination news during my time away.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why I Haven't Been Blogging For a Few Days ...

In New York City, and spoiled with great music and arts. See you in a few days ...



[We saw Bill Frisell tonight at the Village Vanguard.]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nomination News: Bloc Nomination in Vacant Seat Likely Uncontested Now

As we previously reported here, Bloc Québécois M.P. Jean-Yves Roy has indicated his intention to retire at the next election, and several candidates were initially interested in replacing him. However, courtesy of l'Avantage en ligne, there are a few updates:
  • Haute-Gaspésie – La Mitis – Matane – Matapédia, QC -The Bloc has scheduled its nomination meeting in this riding for Sunday, June 7 in Amqui. Sainte-Flavie Mayor and political science professor, Jean-François Fortin, has signed up several hundred new members in preparation for the meeting, he says, adding to the existing membership base of 1,800 currently in the riding association. And he claims to have received a phone call of support from party leader Gilles Duceppe. Meantime another prospective candidate, Matane homecare services director Christian Gionet, has pulled out of the race citing concerns about the hasty calling of the meeting and the change in location from Sayabec. Gionet had signed up 35 new members with the hopes of another 40 on May 8, but says that with the riding association calling the meeting for June 7, apparantly under pressure from party headquarters, no new members could be signed up after May 7.

    According to Journal l'Avantage, barring the emergence of another surprise candidate, it appears that Fortin is set to win the nomination uncontested. As mentioned, the riding is currently represented by four-term Bloc M.P. Jean-Yves Roy, who won his seat with healthy margins until 2008, when Liberal candidate Nancy Charest came within 1.9% of the vote of unseating him. Charest has indicated she intends to run again, earlier reported here. Never a big spending riding for any party, it's a sure bet that this time, with a retiring incumbent and a strong returning challenger, parties will take very little for granted in the upcoming race.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nomination News: Liberal Non-Incumbent Riding Nomination Freeze Lifted

Boy you can't beat nomination news for generating unintelligible, jargony headlines, but that's the business I guess. Anyways, from this evening's mailbag comes confirmation that the Liberal Party campaign co-chairs have in fact lifted the freeze on nominations in unheld ridings. And news of two more nomination candidates:
  • Dufferin – Caledon, ON - After their 2008 candidate Rebecca Finch expressed frustration with party politics, and stepped away from from further involvement with her party, Liberals will be looking for a new candidate in this central Ontario riding and Jeff May, a manager in the educational sector, is preparing himself to run for the nomination, launching a blog to document his journey. The riding is currently held by three-term Conservative M.P. David Tilson, who defeated former Liberal M.P. Murray Calder by just 3.8% of the vote in 2004, but who went on to win with a nearly 34% margin over Finch this last time out. Finch did tell the Caledon Enterprise in March that she might yet run again as an Independent candidate. Meantime, the Green Party candidate is likely to be Ard Van Leeuwen again, as he was recently named his party's finance critic. Van Leeuwen actually outspent Tilson in 2008 (79% vs. 73% of the spending limit), earning 16.8% of the vote and a third-place finish for his efforts, in his party's 3rd best seat in Ontario and 6th best riding overall.
  • Thunder Bay – Rainy River, ON - Former Liberal M.P. Ken Boshcoff announced today that he will be seeking his party's nomination once again, having taken some time to consider how he could be a better representative since his loss to the NDP's first-time M.P. John Rafferty. Should Boshcoff be successful in winning his party's nod, it would make for the fourth rematch in five years between himself and Rafferty. In 2006, Rafferty made a surprisingingly good showing, coming within 658 votes (1.7% of the vote) of unseating Boshcoff, however he spent just 28% of the limit compared with Boshcoff's 67%. Apparently unwilling to leave anything to chance in 2008, Rafferty's campaign doubled its local fundraising and received some $35K in transfers from party headquarters, allowing him to outspend Boshcoff 86% to 68% and win the seat by 8% of the vote. But the riding also has a strong Conservative presence and has met or nearly met the criterion for being a close 3-way race in each of the last 3 elections.
And, since we're counting, Boshcoff's announcement makes him the 11th former Liberal M.P. seeking to return to Ottawa. Thanks to a reader for bringing these two items to our attention.

If you know of nomination news in your part of the country, or your corner of the political spectrum, please jot me a note in confidence and I'll share it with readers on your behalf.

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Nomination News: Rematch in Brome-Missisquoi?

From La Voix de l'Est, we get the latest on another south-eastern Québec riding:
  • Brome – Missisquoi, QC - We learned last week that two-term Bloc Québécois M.P. Christian Ouellet plans to run once again, even though at 75 years of age he is currently the oldest Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. Ouellet has no plans for an early nomination meeting in his riding, however, since he believes having a meeting closer to the launch of an election is a better card to play, particularly if it includes a visit from the party leader to the riding. In a follow-up story this week, La Voix reports that former Liberal M.P. Denis Paradis is taking care of his vineyard and practicing law, but also planning for a third rematch with Ouellet. 2008 Conservative candidate Mark Quinlan and NDP candidate Christelle Bogosta are both aiming to run again as well.

    Just 2.4% of the vote separated Paradis and Ouellet in 2004 and 2008, with Paradis winning the former contest and Ouellet the latter. In between, Ouellet captured the seat from Paradis in 2006 by a wider margin of some 10.4% of the vote, having increased his campaign spending from 39% to 87% of the limit between 2004 and 2006, and again to 93% in 2008, as compared with Paradis who spent 76-79% on all three outings. The local Conservatives spent virtually the full limit in both 2006 and 2008, obtaining 20.4% and 18.7% of the vote respectively in return for those outlays*. This riding was the 20th closest race nationally in the last election (and the 5th closest in Québec), and was the Liberal Party's 4th best non-incumbent riding in the province.
This means we can probably add Denis Paradis' name to the growing list of former Liberal M.P.s looking to return to Ottawa. I count 10 so far (Omar Alghabra, Eleni Bakopanos, Don Bell, Tina Keeper, Denis Paradis, David Pratt, Karen Redman, Bob Speller, Lloyd St.-Amand, and Roger Valley).

* Brome-Missisquoi was not on the list of ridings being examined for their accounting of Conservative advertising expenditures, but 2006 Conservative candidate David Marler went on to write (PDF) about his experiences, and ran as an Independent candidate in 2008.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Nomination News: Gatineau Definitely a Riding To Watch

Also courtesy of today's Hill Times comes news of a possible Liberal candidate in the Quebec riding of Gatineau (just across the river from Ottawa):
  • Gatineau, QC - Evidence that this western Quebec riding was the most competitive and heavily contested seat in the country last time is found in the fact that it was the closest 4-way race in 2008, as well as the closest 3-way race, and the 26th closest 2-way contest overall in the country. Two-term Bloc Québécois M.P. Richard Nadeau won with just 29.2% of the vote, defeating former Liberal M.P. Françoise Boivin, now running for the NDP, by a margin of just 3.0%, and placing just 3.8% ahead of Liberal candidate lawyer Michel Simard. Conservative candidate and businessman Denis Tasse also obtained 16.8% of the vote, although he outspent the Liberal Simard by about 14% of the limit (59% vs 45%). Meanwhile Boivin outspent Nadeau 98% to 88%.

    Now Abbas Rana of the Hill Times is reporting that former Liberal National Director Steve McKinnon is considering a run there. Boivin is also said to be planning another run, having recently been elected President of her new federal party's Quebec wing. This would make for the 4th rematch between Boivin and Nadeau, and overall a very interesting and competitive race indeed.

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Nomination News: When Can We Start?

According to this morning's Hill Times, Liberal Senator David Smith says that with their Convention out of the way his party is poised to unfreeze nominations in a few days. Liberal incumbents must meet the membership and financial criteria to avoid a nomination challenge by June, he says, including having at least 400 riding members, and 40 Victory Fund supporters signed up from the riding (a $10 monthly contribution split 50:50 between the national office and the riding association).

I haven't seen anything written about when the Conservative Party or NDP will lift freezes on their nominations, although a reader wrote last week to say that it was believed the Conservative freeze would be lifted for B.C. shortly after the provincial election. The Conservatives have declared all their incumbents reelected [UPDATE-HA-HA-THEY-WISH: renominated], while NDP nominations for both incumbents and challengers remain frozen.

Obviously the Bloc Québécois' freeze is lifted, at least for incumbents, some 8 of whom are or should have been nominated by now according to their list of planned nomination meetings. And the Green Party has nominated one candidate already, and has at least one more meeting in the works for June 11.

If you can pass along any details, drop a line to the Pundits' Guide and fill us in.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Nomination News: More Catching Up

From the mailbag and recent clippings, this batch of nomination news tidbits should get us all caught up:
  • Haute-Gaspésie – La Mitis – Matane – Matapédia, QC - 2008 Liberal candidate Nancy Charest appears set to run again in this eastern Québéc riding, according to Le Soleil. Charest came within 1.9% of the vote of Bloc Québécois M.P. four-term Jean-Yves Roy, who has since announced his retirement as of the next election.
  • Ottawa – Orléans, ON - A reader writes to advise that the host of a community access financial advice show, Orleans financial planner Judith Cane, has launched her campaign for the Liberal nomination in this east-end Ottawa riding, joining Ottawa city councillor Rainer Bloess who has already announced (as previously reported here). Two-term Conservative M.P. Royal Galipeau presently represents the riding.
  • Nepean – Carleton, ON - The local Green Party association has scheduled a nomination meeting for Thursday June 11, and running so far is engineer Jean-Luc Cooke, writes another reader. The riding is currently held by three-term Conservative M.P. Pierre Poilievre.
  • St. Catharines, ON - We earlier reported that former Liberal M.P. Walt Lastewka would not be running again, and now learn courtesy of the St. Catharines Standard that he is helping organize their local association's nomination process. Lastewka says that nominations will likely not open there until June or July. The riding is now represented by two-term Conservative M.P. Rick Dykstra.
  • Edmonton – Strathcona, AB - Two more candidates have announced a run for the Conservative nomination in the only non-Conservative seat in Alberta. Joining Ryan Hastman are the president of neighbouring Edmonton – Mill Woods – Beaumont, AB riding association Cathay Wagantall (thanks daveberta.ca) and Royal Glenora performance sports expert Linda Slade (thanks again daveberta.ca). Bowing out, as a result of inconvenient nomination scheduling is the former M.P. Rahim Jaffer, who plans to finish his MBA, travel abroad, and then start a family with his new wife Helena Guergis, the M.P. for Simcoe – Grey, ON. The deadline for candidates to file papers has been set for Friday May 22. This riding was won by first-time NDP M.P. Linda Duncan in the 2008 election.
From the mailbag also comes word of a new political blog aggregator for Green blogs, joining the Blogging Tories, Liblogs, LiberalsOnline, NewDemocratsOnline and the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.

Canadian Green Bloggers features blogs by party members and supporters not already hosted on the party's own blog aggregator.

My latest email service hiccups are all fixed up, so if you have nomination news to pass along, please do get in touch.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Look at Candidate Election Spending: Part I

The article below is reprinted with the kind permission of the Hill Times, from their Monday May 4 edition.

Money, money: candidates' spending and federal election expenses limits

Only a small percentage of all federal candidates spent more than 90 per cent of the limit on election expenses.

By ALICE FUNKE and W.T. STANBURY

This is the first of two pieces on the relationship between candidates’ “election expenses” and the legal limit on such outlays, based on the four federal elections between 1997 and 2006. We focus on “per cent spent,” the ratio of actual election expenses to the legal limit.

The next piece will examine the relationship between election spending by candidates and the percentage of votes obtained and electoral outcomes. Later, we will examine federal candidates’ revenues, their personal expenses, and their surpluses (including their disposition).

Limits on election expenses

Since 1974, the federal government has set limits on the election expenses that may be incurred by both candidates and registered political parties. The legal limit for candidates is not the same for all electoral districts. It is based on the following formula: $2.07 for each of the first 15,000 electors (on the preliminary electors list created soon after the writs are issued) plus $1.04 for each of the next 10,000 plus 52 cents for each additional elector. Then three adjustments are made: (i) for districts with fewer electors than the national average; (ii) for geographically large districts; and (iii) for the change in the Consumer Price Index.

The limits for candidate election expenses for the past five federal general elections are reported in Table 1. The average limit increased from $62,624 in 1997 to $88,097 in 2008. (Note that the balance of the paper deals with the four elections between 1997 and 2006, since a complete dataset for 2008 is not yet available.)

The “lowest” and “highest” columns reflect the variation in the limit due to the differences in the size of electoral districts in both geographic terms and the number of electors. Note that the ratio of the highest to the lowest limit has increased from 1.59 in 1997 to 1.80 in 2008.

Distribution of per cent of limit spent

For the four federal general elections between 1997 and 2006, all candidates combined spent an average of 33.6 per cent of the legal limit. This varied across the four elections: from 31 per cent in 2000 to 37.5 per cent in 1997 (Table 2).

The data show that for the four elections, almost two-thirds (65.6 per cent) of all candidates (n=6,799) spent 50 per cent or less of their election expense limit. Over 55 per cent of candidates spent less than one quarter of the limit (Table 2).

Only 10.5 per cent of federal candidates spent more than 90 per cent of the limit, and only 5.5 per cent spent over 95 per cent (Table 2). As a practical matter, given the difficulties of managing election expenses during the typical five-week campaign period, even high-spending candidates cannot expect to spend over 98 per cent of the limit. In fact, our data indicated that seven candidates exceeded the limit (one in 2000, four in 2006; and apparently two in 1997, although the 1997 data is only available in “as submitted” form at Elections Canada, and may have been subject to later corrections). (Bill Curry, the Globe and Mail, April 1, 2009, reported that one of the four MPs who exceeded their spending limit in the 2006 election recently signed a “compliance agreement” with the elections commissioner.) [UPDATE: see postscript below]

Average per cent of limit spent by party

While all candidates spent an average of 33.6 per cent of the limit on election expenses for the four elections combined, there was a huge variation across parties. The Liberals and the BQ had the highest average (just over 70 per cent) while the Green Party had the lowest (2.5 per cent) (Table 3).

Note that the “Other” category includes all other parties, non-affiliated candidates and independents. Recall that after the 1997 and 2000 elections, five parties were represented in the Commons and that after the 2004 and 2006 elections four parties elected MPs.

The average per cent of the limit spent by over 1,500 candidates in the “Other” category for the four elections was 3.1 per cent.

The BQ (which contested only the 75 seats in Quebec in all four elections) experienced a dramatic decline in the fraction of its candidates who spent more than 80 per cent of the limit in 2004 and 2006 compared to 1997 and 2000. Yet it elected more MPs in 2004 and 2006 (54 and 51, respectively vs. 44 and 38 in 1997 and 2000). In 1997 and 2000, 48 and 55 BQ candidates spent over 80 per cent of the limit, compared to 17 and 16 in 2004 and 2006. Note the decline in the average percent of limit by the BQ candidates in Table 3 (from a high of 82.1 per cent in 2000—the highest of any party—to 57.9 per cent in 2004 and 61.3 per cent in 2006).

The candidates of the new Conservative Party (created in December 2003 by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives) spent a higher percentage of the limit than either of its two predecessors. The Conservatives spent 60.7 per cent of the limit in 2004 and 69.7 per cent in 2006. In the 1997 and 2000 elections, Reform and Canadian Alliance candidates spent 46.7 per cent of the limit. Progressive Conservative candidates, on average, spent 47 per cent of the limit in 1997 but only 23.7 per cent in 2000 (Table 3).

Among the “major” parties, the NDP candidates spent the least, averaging only 24.6 per cent of the limit over the four elections. The range was from 20.1 per cent in 2000 to 28.4 per cent in 1997 (Table 3). Modest spending was associated with modest results. The NDP elected 21 MPs in 1997, 13 in 2000, 19 in 2004 and 29 in 2006.

High-spending candidates

We define “high-spending” candidates as those who spent over 80 per cent of the limit on “election expenses.” As expected, these candidates were concentrated in the major parties, i.e., those able to elect MPs. Over the four elections, 18.5 per cent of all candidates were in this category.

The two parties with the highest percentage of their candidates spending more than 80 per cent of the limit for the four elections combined were the Liberals and BQ, both at 45.3 per cent. The Conservatives had 43.8 per cent in this category (based on two general elections). The comparable figures for Reform/Canadian Alliance candidates was 21 per cent and for the Progressive Conservatives, 12.3 per cent (again, both based on two elections) (Table 4).

Over the four elections, 374 candidates spent more than 95 per cent of the limit and 354 spent 90.1 to 95 per cent of the limit. Note that there was a total of 6,799 candidates for the four elections combined (Table 4).

Among the candidates spending 95-plus per cent of the limit, over the four elections were 11.7 per cent of Liberal candidates, 15 per cent of BQ candidates, 14.4 per cent of Conservative candidates, but only 2.7 per cent of NDP candidates (Table 4). As noted above, seven candidates exceeded (or appeared to exceed) the limit over the four elections.

Summary and conclusions

First, only a small percentage (10.5 per cent) of all federal candidates spent more than 90 per cent of the limit on election expenses. Second, in nearly all cases, high-spending candidates represented parties able to elect MPs. Third, over one-half of all candidates (55.6 per cent) spent less than one-quarter of the limit. This was due to the large number of candidates outside the major parties. Fourth, the average percent spent by major parties varied greatly for the four elections between 1997 and 2006: from 24.6 per cent of the limit for the NDP to 70 per cent for the BQ and the Liberals.

It is clear that the spending limits do not effectively limit the spending of most of the candidates who spend nowhere near the limit. They do affect the candidates who are, comparatively, big spenders and could be bigger ones. The limits also reduce the gap between big spenders and low spenders.

Without spending limits, we might see different patterns in the relationship between spending and outcomes. For example, it might be in an incumbent’s interest to raise and spend a great deal, in order to make it harder for challengers to be competitive. (There is evidence that this occurs in the U.S.) In Canada, it appears that as incumbents are re-elected more often, their spending goes down a bit. This makes it worth raising the question whether the Canadian rates of incumbency re-election are lower than those in the U.S. in part because the spending limits make it financially easier to challenge an incumbent.

In the next piece, we will describe the relationship between election expenses and the percentage of votes obtained and electoral outcomes.

Alice Funke is the publisher of the Pundits’ Guide to Canadian Federal Elections (punditsguide.ca). W.T. Stanbury is professor Emeritus, UBC. He conducted research on party and election finance for the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform & Party Finance (Lortie Commission).

------------------------

Table 1: Limits on Candidate Election Expenses for Five Federal General Elections, 1997 to 2008 in Nominal Dollars

Table 2: Distribution of Percent of Limit Spent on Election Expenses by All Candidates for Four Federal Elections, 1997 to 2006

Table 3: Candidate Spending on Election Expenses as a Percent of the Limit by Party in Four Federal General Elections, 1997 to 2006

Table 4: Candidates Spending Over 80% of the Limit for Four Federal General Elections Combined , 1997 to 2006

---------------------------------------

Postscript:

Professor Stanbury and I received an email from someone who would know in response to this story:
What the authors do not know is that one candidate, Mr. Khan, in the 2004 election was charged and convicted in February 2008 for overspending in the amount of $31,000. The details can be found in the sentencing digest on the Elections Canada website www.elections.ca. Please pass this along to the authors.
Indeed, when I last checked the Elections Canada database for Wajid Khan's 2004 spending in March, the file was still in "as submitted" form, and showed him spending about 97% of the limit. And in fact his "as reviewed" return still has not been posted at the Elections Canada financial website. Recall that Wajid Khan was first elected as a Liberal M.P. in the riding of Mississauga – Streetsville, ON in that election.

The sentencing digest referred to above, however, lists Mr. Khan's 2004 election expenses as $109,112.04, exceeding the $77,923.66 limit by $31,188.38 (some 40% over, in other words), for which he received a $500 fine on February 1, 2008. One other individual (a riding official), as well as a business in the constituency, also received fines for related offences on the same date.

Thanks to that reader for drawing our attention to this additional piece of information.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Latest on Vacant Seats

A couple of developments to report on one vacant seat, and one that's about to become vacant.

First, in the seat that is vacant, the Chief Electoral Officer announced today that he received the Speaker's warrant declaring Bill Casey's seat vacant yesterday. Thus, we can recalculate the exact dates affecting the calling of a by-election in Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley, NS (and compare with those for New Westminster – Coquitlam, BC):


CCMVNWC
Date of resignation:Thu Apr 30, 2009Mon Apr 13, 2009
Date Speaker's warrant received by CEO:Mon May 4, 2009Thu Apr 16, 2009
Earliest date the by-election could be called
(11 days later):
Fri May 15, 2009Mon Apr 27, 2009
Earliest date the by-election could be held
(first Monday at least 36 days after that):
Mon Jun 22, 2009Mon Jun 8, 2009
Latest date the by-election could be called
(180 days later):
Sat Oct 31, 2009Tue Oct 13, 2009
Latest date the by-election could be held
(first Monday at least 36 - [no maximum] days later):
on or after
Mon Dec 7, 2009
on or after
Mon Nov 23, 2009

Next, Montmagny – L'Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup, QC Bloc Québécois M.P. Paul Crête was nominated this past Sunday as the Parti Québécois candidate for the forthcoming provincial by-election in Rivière-du-Loup, the seat recently vacated by former ADQ leader Mario Dumont. Crête hasn't resigned his Commons seat as yet, but the provincial by-election is not expected until June, so he has a bit of time yet.

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Nomination News: OK, So Where Were We?

I need to get caught up on some nomination news from clippings, reader tips and Liberal convention gossip after some technical hiccups on the home front. So, here goes:
  • Trois-Rivières, QC - At least five candidates are considering running for the Liberal nomination in this riding located halfway between Montréal and Québec City, according to l'Hebdo Journal. The riding is presently held by three-term Bloc Québécois M.P. Paule Brunelle, who bested the third-place Liberal candidate 24-year old Marcos Simard by some 27.1 percentage points in 2008.
  • Longueuil – Pierre-Boucher, QC - A young Liberal, Jonathan Pedneault, has kicked off his nomination campaign to run in this south shore riding the way many young people do these days: on Facebook. The seat was won by first-time Bloc Québécois M.P. Jean Dorion in 2008, following the resignation of former four-term Bloc M.P. Caroline St-Hilaire (who is now planning a run for Mayor of Longueuil).
  • Hochelaga, QC - Persistent rumours that six-term Bloc Québécois M.P. Réal Ménard may also step down to run municipally in Montréal have New Democrats Babble'ing about their 2008 candidate Jean-Claude Rocheleau and readying themselves to fight a possible by-election in this top quintile Québec riding for them.
  • Saint-Laurent – Cartierville, QC - Long-time Liberal M.P. and former party leader Stéphane Dion is said to be ready to run again, according to a Canadian Press story in advance of the Liberal Convention, and this Vincent Marissal story from Vancouver in La Presse. Marissal reports that Dion turned down a job offer as vice-rector of his former employer, l'Université de Montréal, in order to run once again.
  • Laval – Les Îles, QC - Another long-time Liberal M.P. planning to run again according to Marissal is Raymonde Folco, in spite of an "enormous debt" (said to be around $57K) in that Liberal riding association. Never a big campaign spender, Folco was massively outspent by her new Conservative opponent (and former aide), Agop Evereklian, in 2008. Her riding association's 2007 Financial Statements show liabilities of just under $57K and assets of $13,500 in cash, with about $3,600 in donations for the year. Note that 2008 riding ("electoral district association" or EDA) statements are not due until the end of this month.
  • Oak Ridges – Markham, ON - Another Liberal Facebook page, this time for three-term Markham councillor and former Liberal riding president, Khalid Usman, who is running for his party's nomination in this 905 North riding. First-time Conservative M.P. Paul Calandra won the seat in 2008 by narrowly defeating former two-term Liberal M.P. Lui Temelkovski in a 545 vote squeaker (or 1.5 votes per poll). No word whether Mr. Temelkovski plans to run for the Liberal nomination again himself.
  • Haldimand – Norfolk, ON - The Globe and Mail's Jane Taber reported from the convention that Bob Speller is one of a group of former Liberal M.P.s who attended either having decided to or strongly considering running again (along with Omar Alghabra, already reported here). Speller served several terms in this riding, both in opposition and government, but lost to three-term Conservative M.P. Diane Finley in 2004. He tried unsuccessfully to regain the seat in 2006, but did not run in 2008.
  • Churchill, MB - Another former Liberal M.P. in Taber's story said to be considering a run is Tina Keeper. She won this northern Manitoba riding with very strong support in 2006 over former NDP-turned-Independent M.P. Bev Desjarlais, who ran alongside the new nominee of her party, Nikki Ashton, splitting the historic NDP vote. Ashton returned in 2008 to defeat Keeper, with the riding reverting to its traditional (very low) turnout levels.
  • North Vancouver, BC - Convention scuttlebutt also has former Liberal M.P. Don Bell looking to reclaim his federal seat after failing to win the provincial B.C. Liberal nomination for part of his former riding, a reader writes to say. Bell lost to first-time Conservative M.P. Andrew Saxton last time out in a riding that has seen two-way fights with narrow margins in each of the last three elections.
  • British Columbia Southern Interior, BC - 2008 Conservative candidate Robert Zandee is preparing to launch a nomination campaign to win the right to carry his party's colours in the next campaign. The riding is currently held by two-term NDP M.P. Alex Atamanenko.
Two former Liberal M.P.s apparently NOT running are Martin Cauchon (Marissal says it's looking less and less likely according to his Liberal sources), and Sheila Copps who in spite of entreaties from her party who now believe she is the only Liberal who can "take out the NDP in Hamilton" has declined their invitation, reports Macleans.ca.

If you have nomination news from your neck of the woods ... why not stick your neck out and share with Pundits' Guide readers, by dropping me a line?

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Conservatives Decide to Renominate All Incumbents

The results of the April 30 mail-in ballot having been received and tabulated, the Conservative Party of Canada has decided that all 143 of its incumbents remain as candidates for the forthcoming election, according to this new release from yesterday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2008

Conservative Party Announces the Nomination Process for Conservative Incumbent MP’s is Complete

OTTAWA - The Conservative Party of Canada has received the ballot results for the incumbent MP nomination process as set out by the democratically elected National Council of the Conservative Party of Canada. This process was implemented in all of the 143 conservative held ridings across Canada. In every riding, the rules were applied, and the result of the process is that all of incumbent Conservative MP’s will remain as Conservative Party candidates for the next Federal Election and will not be required to face a nomination challenge.
Which means that the challengers hoping to mount nomination campaigns in Edmonton East, Calgary West and possibly Vegreville – Wainwright, AB will have to wait to fight another day.

By my count, this makes 144 nominated Conservatives (143 incumbents + Parm Gill in Brampton – Springdale, ON), 7 nominated Bloquistes (all incumbents; at least I'm assuming that the two incumbents whose meetings were scheduled for this past Sunday were renominated, although there aren't any news clippings at Google News yet), and 1 Green Party candidate (Stan Grizzle in Northumberland – Quinte West, ON).

I'm catching up on a bit of a backlog of news items here, owing to some very frustrating phone, cable and internet problems following the big storm in Ottawa the other weekend, so bear with me as I work through them all.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Technology in the Obama Campaign: Who Did What For Whom?

A number of politicians and parties in Canada are laying claim to various technological aspects of the Obama campaign, and it was getting a bit confusing to me just what elements each one has adopted.

I just found an article from last fall with an overview of the various elements that made up the high-tech arsenal of the most creative political campaign many of us have seen in our political lives. It details the different roles played for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by:
  • MyBarackObama.com - the social networking, volunteer-activation site built by Blue State Digital
  • the Voter Activation Network ("the VAN") - recently purchased by the Liberal Party
  • VoteBuilder - the Democratic Party's proprietary version of the VAN
  • Catalist - a private firm that maintains detailed lists of voters' addresses, voting preferences, occupations, etc.
  • Strategic Telemetry - the "business intelligence" of the system, containing the top secret likely voter profile of potential Obama supporters and where to find them
The article describes how the various pieces were used together. Worth a read.

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