Trudeau Q4 Fundraising Juggernaut Signals Beginning of the End of the Liberal Leadership Race

January 31st, 2013

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[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

It is just not sporting to declare a political contest over before the voting starts, and that's not something we at Pundits' Guide would ever do. But Justin Trudeau's leadership campaign raised fully 58.4% of the $1.15M in leadership donations reported by the Liberal Party in the fourth quarter of 2012.

If it's not over already, and that's not the writing on the wall, then please just ignore the rubenesque diva in the corner singing swan songs for the also-rans from here until April 14. It's not nice to call her a fat-lady-singing anyway.

The $673K reported by Trudeau's campaign through their party's fourth quarter financial return does not even include a further $90K raised prior to his registration as a candidate — funds, in that case, that were not eligible for a federal political contribution tax credit the way these donations directed through the party are (nothwithstanding the 10% tithe the party keeps in this case to cover the leadership contest overhead).

Liberal Leadership Contestant Fundraising Directed Through the Liberal Party, 2012 (Q4)

Leadership candidate Total ($) Pct
Grand Total $1,153,535.11 100%
* Fry is not a candidate in the current federal Liberal leadership race, but is still raising funds to retire a debt from the 2006 contest. Missing from this list are 2013 entries David Bertschi and Martin Cauchon, neither of whom became registered leadership contestants until January of 2013.
Figures total the "Directed amount" of contributions, as that is the best indicator of fundraising potential, not the "total contribution" which could include the value of goods and services deduced from the ticket, and not the value after the party's 10% tithe.
Justin TRUDEAU 673,156.53 58.4%
Martha HALL FINDLAY 149,877.45 13.0%
Marc GARNEAU 122,616.11 10.6%
George TAKACH 106,233.00 9.2%
Joyce MURRAY 56,554.06 4.9%
Karen McCRIMMON 20,275.00 1.8%
Deborah COYNE 16,355.00 1.4%
Hedy FRY* 8,467.96 0.7%

Seven of the nine candidates in the current Liberal leadership contest reported donations in the final three months of 2012, as did Vancouver Centre M.P. Hedy Fry, who is chipping away at the remainder of her debt from two contests ago. Fry hosted the first leadership debate of this contest in her downtown riding two weekends ago, where the new crop of candidates tested their lines against the prohibitive front-runner. The second debate will be held in Winnipeg this weekend.

Joining the race in time for the Vancouver debate, but not in enough time to raise funds before year-end was former Chrétien-era justice minister and then-Outremont M.P. Martin Cauchon. Also missing from the Q4 return was David Bertschi of Orléans, Ontario, another late official registrant even though he announced his candidacy last fall. Karen McCrimmon from the other side of the nation's capital was able to raise over $20K, albeit that 94% of it originated from within Eastern Ontario.

Bunched up in a rivalry for a distant second place finish financially are former Willowdale, Ontario M.P. and 2006 leadership aspirant Martha Hall Findlay, Westmount–Ville Marie, QC M.P. and former astronaut Marc Garneau, and Toronto-based tech lawyer George Takach who has never run for office but served a stint as a political aide back when Liberals actually ran things in Ottawa.

The regional distribution of funds raised by the various candidates does tend to confirm what is known anecdotally about their relative pockets of strength, but again Trudeau wins in every Postal District (first letter of the postal code) except BC, where he finds himself slightly behind the province's home-grown candidate Joyce Murray. Murray however comes up short in the national comparison, hovering somewhere between Takach and the two smaller campaigns of Karen McCrimmon and Toronto lawyer Deborah Coyne.

Martha Hall Findlay's campaign is showing more strength in the west financially than other non-Trudeau candidates, except for Marc Garneau who passed her for second place in Alberta. She also shows some fundraising prowess in Ontario, though Takach beat her in Toronto, and Garneau bested her in Eastern Ontario. And finally, she won the non-Trudeau candidate sweepstakes for fundraising in Nova Scotia.

But frankly, the lion's share of money being raised for this leadership contest, as with the party's vote in the last election, is coming out of Greater Toronto, Montréal, and Ottawa (65% of all leadership fundraising came from the H, K. L, and M postal districts). Only BC came close to breaking 10% of the take, while the economic powerhouse of the country, Alberta, provided just 5.1% of the funds for the Liberal leadership race before Christmas.

[Click on image below to open PDF containing the regional distribution by Postal District.]

Looking at the cumulative fundraising by leadership campaign out of this dataset (and remember it doesn't include the $90K already reported on Mr. Trudeau's leadership registration report), Mr. Trudeau nearly doubled his take in the final days of the calendar year, a good part of that coming from an apparent leadership dinner in Sudbury, ON, along with some ceiling contributions from Regina, the Toronto area and elsewhere dated December 31.

[Click on image to open full-sized version]

Federal Party Quarterly Returns

Meanwhile, the federal parties reported their own fundraising totals for the fourth quarter of 2012 at the same time. No doubt these will be spun various ways by all concerned, but the thing that struck me was how three of the political parties came down off their election year highs the way you would normally expect to see in the first non-election year of a majority mandate, while the NDP and Greens more or less held onto their 2012 fundraising levels, with the NDP increasing theirs every so slightly.

What the NDP wasn't able to do, however, was move the needle ahead of the Liberal benchmark even as their red rivals receded a bit comparing annual hauls year over year. Liberal Party Executive Director Ian McKay told reporters in January that the party had had the "best December ever", which I haven't verified but seems plausible. However they didn't have a better fourth quarter than 2006.

Other popular spin-o-matic explanations for fundraising numbers include the old stand-by "Our members were also being hit up for leadership contributions", in which case you would have to add $1.72M to the NDP's total for 2012, and $1.28M to the Liberals'.

As for the Conservatives, they did not raise more in the fourth quarter than all the other parties combined, but they continued to raise more than any of them, from more donors both large and small. Also of interest, the Bloc Québecois put on a year-end push and got their fundraising back into a post-Québec provincial election high gear, raising a good enough chunk of money from large donors in the fourth quarter for us to remark that they aren't rolling over and playing dead yet.

You can see the full results here, but for now a quick table of the parties' fourth quarter and year-to-date 2012 fundraising results..

Party Q4 ($) YTD ($)
Cons $ 5,088,617 $ 17,260,373
Lib $ 2,789,855 $ 8,370,483
NDP $ 2,478,938 $ 7,679,351
Grn $ 801,058 $ 1,700,270
BQ $ 281,547 $ 434,283

22 Responses to “Trudeau Q4 Fundraising Juggernaut Signals Beginning of the End of the Liberal Leadership Race”

  1. tim naumetz says:

    once again Alice, great analysis. the juggernaut continues..reminds me of Martin’s but much smaller scale now..

  2. mike says:

    Bertshi and Cauchon filings are on the EC website you could factor those in.
    Bertshi seems to have donated 10k to his campaign plus loaned it 75k and his wife donated 2500. Don’t see how they can donate more than $1200

  3. Hi Mike, and welcome to Pundits’ Guide. I kept the scope of this post to just the funds reported in the party Q4 returns that were posted last night. If Mr. Bertschi had raised sufficient funds earlier, he would have been registered earlier, and could have had his fundraising included. You’re right that I should do another post comparing all the sources of funding though.

  4. chg says:

    Naive question: The Libs set a spending limit on Leadership campaigns. If Trudeau raises more than that ceiling (plus fees, etc) what happens to the excess? Can he transfer it to his riding or to the party even though EC has separate limits on these donations?

  5. Not naïve. A very good question that is covered by the Elections Act, which says that campaign surpluses must be transfered to either a riding association (EDA) or to the party itself. It cannot be transferred to another leadership contestant (for fear that candidates would pay each other to drop out).

  6. chg says:

    Thanks for the answer! And great analysis, too.

  7. mike says:

    How much of the money that Martha raised was used to pay off her debt from the last time she ran?

  8. She announced that that debt had been paid off last summer, I believe. So, none of it, I would imagine.

  9. Shadow says:

    Kind of pulling for Martha. The Liberal team needs a dose of proffesionalism and discipline these days.

    Or just a bit of irish luck.

    Paul Martin calling Spence an “inspiration’ the day her expense scandal hit the newspapers is kind of like Warren Kinsella writing a disgusting article slamming Jim Flaherty for his makeup expenses a few weeks before the news that he has an appearance alterting medical condition hit the papers.

  10. mike says:

    as a followup MHF filing as a candidate on 12th of November shows no donations so all the earlier ones in the present filings must have gone to payoff old debt.

  11. Eddie Davidson says:

    How much money they ”generate” is important to their credibility???…My vote won’t be bought with money but it’s going to count….

  12. Wilf Day says:

    At last, some policy content: Joyce Murray pledges to support proportional representation.

    Liberals for Fair Voting says “all Fair Voters should now use their networks to drum up, from today until the close of registration on March 3, the largest possible vote for the Liberal candidate most favourable to our goal.”

    And Fair Vote Canada takes note in a press release. “She’s saying what all Canadian democrats have been longing to hear from the Liberal Party,” observed Wayne Smith, executive director of Fair Vote Canada. “I hope the other eight are paying close attention.”

  13. Robo says:

    On your summary chart, you label Postal Code M as GTA. Actually, M is just the City of Toronto. Postal Codes for Markham, Mississauga, and Pickering start with L.

  14. Thanks for the useful clarification.

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