UPDATED: Third Quarter Fundraising Sees NDP Edge Liberals

October 31st, 2012

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[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

For the first time ever, since early 2008, the NDP has reported a higher national quarterly contributions total than the Liberal Party.

Quarterly 2012 fundraising totals by party, quarter, and contributor size

The upstart party filed a third quarter return late yesterday showing $1,459,561.05 in contributions, versus $1,440,761.34 for its former "natural governing" competitor, a gap to the upside of $19K after falling $60K short of that objective in the second quarter.

UPDATE: David Akin reminds us that the NDP did beat the Liberals in the first quarter of 2007 as well. This was in the first quarter of Stéphane Dion's leadership of that party, and in the wake of a blowout fourth quarter for the Liberal Party in 2006-Q4. You can't beat David's memory!

UPDATE: Brian Klunder, who would know, reminds us that the NDP beat the Liberals in the first quarter of 2008 as well. I am just going to have to plead guilty to writing based on my recollection, even after painstakingly collecting and publishing all the raw data over the years. Sorry folks, and thanks to Brian and David for setting me straight.

Evidence suggests the Liberals knew they were in danger of being bested, as a series of fundraising emails went out to their list of contacts in late September, with increasingly dire warnings about the possibility.

On the bright side for them, the Liberals are still ahead of the NDP year-to-date: — $5,580,627.41 versus $5,200,412.87 — based on a stronger first quarter when the Liberals had their annual convention, and the NDP — in spite of having a very strong quarter by its own standards — was still engaged in a leadership race. To the extent that the Liberal convention fees used up the annual maximum contribution for many of that party's major contributors, and a leadership race diverts attention from national party fundraising, we might expect to see the NDP catch up to and perhaps even pass the Liberals by December.

Quarterly fundraising totals by party and quarter

Historically, the third quarter is difficult for any party to fundraise in, given that it comprises two of the summer months plus September. The major exceptions on the upside come when there is a federal election campaign underway or anticipated soon afterwards, and on the downside a third quarter after an election is bound to be below average. However, the NDP was able to increase its third quarter take in 2012 by almost a half of its previous best-ever non-election year results, and to more than double its usual previous take. And the party will tell anyone who asks that it raised 85% more than last year, although I don't think that's the most valid comparison when last year was a third quarter just after a federal election, and the party had withdrawn from the field in favour of its provincial cousins then fighting election campaigns.

But what we also see is that the NDP is starting to grow its base of small contributors, which is key to growing a fundraising base over the long-term, while the Liberals are falling back somewhat in that objective, at least in the short-term (see the darker colour section of the bars for each party in the first chart).

A look at the Conservative Party's fundraising record shows the long-term importance of building a base of small donors, as they have clearly been able to promote many small donors to larger donors over much of the intervening six years or so. But that party showed a bit of retrenchment in Q3 of 2012 as compared with recent non-election third quarters, posting the lowest number since 2007 ($3.42M vs $3.15M), though notably that was also the year just following a successful election campaign. And you can't really ever call it a bad quarter when you continue to raise as much as your competitors combined!

The Green Party is also showing some growth in its non-election year fundraising, while the Bloc Québécois is showing the expected hit from the provincial election cycle.

The NDP's national fundraising numbers come at the same time as some of its provincial sections are receiving positive attention from previously atypical financial supporters, with even Enbridge buying a table at a recent fundraising dinner for the BC-NDP's leader Adrian Dix, and this Thursday's Ontario NDP "Vision Banquet" with Andrea Horwath and Tom Mulcair being sold out — including by some reports to many of the same suddenly-interested contributors from the business community.

On the leadership fundraising side, Hedy Fry raised $100, Joe Volpe raised $1,100 and Martha Hall Findlay raised the rest of the $59,964.17 in reported directed leadership contributions on the Liberal Party's return. Near as I can tell, any leadership contestant in the 2012/2013 Liberal leadership race must track what they spend and raise now and report it in their eventual registration with Elections Canada, but as their race doesn't start until mid-November, we're not seeing any of that reported on the party return in this quarter.

As for the NDP leadership race contestants, winner Tom Mulcair took in roughly half of the $91K or so raised by all the leadership candidates, as compared with Brian Topp who was ahead in the second quarter. More on leadership fundraising later, as and if time permits.


5 Responses to “UPDATED: Third Quarter Fundraising Sees NDP Edge Liberals”

  1. Dan Leger says:

    Excellent and useful post @punditsguide.

  2. Thanks, Dan. Wish I could take the original lede back, but at least it’s corrected now. Sigh.

  3. Robin Sears says:

    Alice: As an old grump on this subject, let me quote an old Liberal pal who loved to say, ” The problem is not that there are not enough donors, the problem is that there are not enough F###g askers!” So true. New Dems got more than 4 million votes a year ago. Why hasn’t each one been asked to give $10 for pete’s sake! Obscure diseases and animal charities raise more money than Canadian political parties.

    Robin

  4. Ken Summers says:

    What Robin said about organization being the key to fundraising capacity.

    On that front: the Liberals continue to be pathetic, while the New Dems continue to make slow but steady progress on becoming the sole owners of distant second to the party in charge.

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