Conservatives defy expectations; post blow-out second quarter fundraising

July 31st, 2013

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[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

The Conservative Party, battered in the media, continues to be an institution worthy of investing in — at least according to its own financial contributors, as the party posted a very robust non-election year second quarter in 2013.

Raking in $4.86M between April and June of 2013 – a period that would have included registration for the party's subsequently postponed Calgary convention – the party defied expectations and beat nearly every other second quarter in its history, with only the spring of 2005 and election year 2011 coming in higher, according to figures filed late yesterday with Elections Canada.

[Click on graph to view all quarterly reports on the Pundits' Guide Finances page.]

Quarterly Fundraising by Party, to Q2-2013

The only concerning news for the governing party is that its number of second quarter donors is down somewhat over time (to 25,817 this year from 32-34K-ish in earlier non-election year Q2s).

However, the party appears to have promoted those small donors to bigger donors, as the number of contributors over $200 in the second quarter is at an all-time non-election year high of 4,616. And the average contribution size of their large donors has also increased over time, sitting at a record non-election second-quarter high of $582.74 for the Conservatives.

This could suggest the party "tapped out" its biggest donors early in the year (i.e., encourged them to give the annual limit early) in order to avoid the bad publicity of a poor second quarter total. If so, the rest of the year will need to be devoted to acquiring new donors to keep pace. I'll do a tapped-out analysis for a subsequent post, to assess the validity of that possibility.

Meanwhile the NDP continues to post substantially better results than were the norm for them in third party days; a fact that will no doubt be overlooked in the short-term comparisons of their party against a resurgent Liberal Party in the throes of a honeymoon with its new leader.

We've seen this story before in 2009, but by that measure Trudeau-mania 2.0 has not yet surpassed Iggy-mania. The Liberals' $2.96M total in 2013 stands respectably though a bit behind their $3.88M haul in 2009, but is still their third-highest second quarter since quarterly returns have been filed.

The NDP raised less than half that amount, coming in at  $1.37M. This figure is down for them from the heady days of 2011 and 2012, but does represent nearly double their typical second quarter from prior to that.

The Bloc Québécois is soldiering along with a not atypical $70K second quarter for them. The party to watch though may be the Green Party, which continues to post improving results, and recently posted a job for a chief fundraiser on the website.

52 Responses to “Conservatives defy expectations; post blow-out second quarter fundraising”

  1. BK says:

    LPC Q2 in 2009 included the Vancouver leadership convention which bumped the total.

  2. I take your point, but was there not a Liberal convention/gathering with an entrance fee in the second quarter of 2013 as well?

  3. fmpsportsguy says:

    But where is the missing $3.1 Billion?

  4. I’m sure our friend, the sports guy, knows that federal goverenment accounting issues have nothing to do with party finance, but he may not know that we all agree that Pundits’ Guide works best as a partisan-cheap-shot-free-zone. There are hundreds of other places on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter to make comments of that nature, for whatever good they do.

  5. Asyouknow says:

    It goes to show that polls and the media are often wrong!

  6. Matt says:

    The numbers for donations under $25 are really interesting. It’s notable that only LPC has a substantial amount of donors (1090) in this range compared to the NDP’s (86) and CPC’s (only 4!).

    Why don’t the NDP and CPC target small donations like this? My take is LPC is trying to convert a lot of small donors into big ones over time?

  7. Kyle says:

    Important to remember that the Liberal 2009 second quarter would have included the convention, which seems to cause a blip for the Party.

  8. Concerned says:

    The party of the in-and-out scandal undoubtedly has become more skilled. At the time of criminal charges, they decided to pay a $52K and call that a victory while leaving the taxpayer on the hold for $2.3M

    There are some which have an interest in usurping the Canadian electoral system. That should have been made clear after the 2011 election. If only there was no such thing as a memory hole for many Canadians.

  9. Johnny Mac says:

    Thanks for the analysis and posting the results Pundits Guide. This site is great! Keep up the great work. Vote New Democrat!

  10. Matt, those are “pass the hat” donations, which means there was one or more events where they passed the hat for cash donations. The rules in that instance say they have to then do a head count in the room, and report that as the number of “donors”, and then report the total amount of cash raised. I would not read too much more into the number of pass-the-hat donors.

    Kyle, agreed that Liberal conventions see bumps for that party. But was there not a big leadership showcase in Toronto, followed by a big event in Ottawa this year as well?

    Johnny Mac, good to see your youthful enthusiasm, but given the readership of this blog, I sincerely doubt if there is any reader here who doesn’t already have pretty firm party affiliations. Never give up, of course. Anyways, glad you like the site.

  11. Concerned, I’m not sure what you mean about $2.3M. Anyways, as I said to Johnny Mac, not many minds will be changed in the comments section here. If you want to defeat the government of one political party, better send some financial support to the party of your choice.

  12. Johnny B Liberal says:

    The Conservative Party Convention fee of $895 comprises a mandatory tax deductible ‘donation’ to the party.

    If you are a delegate, member observer or even a non-member observer, most of your convention fee is a tax-deductible donation to the party.

    This might explain why the donations in Q2 of 2013 are high.

    Also, since most of the fee is tax-deductible, this means that tax-payers are paying for the majority of your convention fee.

    Put another way, tax-payers are contributing most of the profit to the party that their convention will generate.

    All courtesy of our wacky political tax-deduction laws.


  13. Johnny B Liberal, you have a short memory then, because it was the Liberals who tried to make a capital case of convention fees *NOT* being declared as political contributions after the Conservatives first came to office. Liberal Senator Rod Zimmer moved an amendment to the Elections Act as part of the Accountability Act, and it was adopted and is in effect today.

    I wrote about this previously:

  14. Johnny B Liberal says:

    CPC Convention fees (mandatory donations):

    Delegate/observer fee: $895
    Tax receipt: $735
    Political tax credit: $467
    Out of pocket cost: $428

    i.e. the Conservative Party gets a donation of $735 for every $895 ‘registration fee’.

    The ‘cost portion of the fee, which is not tax-deductible is only $895-$735=$160.

    Of the $735 donation, taxpayers pay $467.

    So, out of the total fee of &895, taxpayers pay $467, or 52%!

    See the bottom of this webpage for the tax deductions table:

  15. Craig says:

    You state that “Trudeau-mania 2.0 has not yet surpassed Iggy-mania”, but we have to remember that the Liberals were the Official Opposition then – now they are the 3rd Party. Is it not impressive for a 3rd Party to beat the Official Opposition in fundraising? Has that happened before?

    I’m not an expert on fundraising numbers, but I’m assuming that’s the most significant thing about the LPC vs NDP numbers?

  16. Johnny B, have you inquired with the Liberal Party about the comparable figures for their conventions?

    Craig, yes, there were several quarters during Mr. Dion’s leadership where the NDP beat the Liberals.

  17. The increased fundraising may come from supporters who see civil servants like those in Elections Canada fail to enforce the law regarding loans, pampered civil servants on strike and media/pollsters continually stating there will be a Lib Govt in 2 years.

    I sit in BC without a certain NDP govt, safe in the knowledge that the voters decide and the fundraising will continue to increase despite all the sound and fury put out by the Harper haters, in fact because of them.

  18. Craig says:

    If the NDP beat Dion in fundraising, I guess that explains one of the reasons why he was an unsuccessful leader! Doesn’t sound like Dion was a particularly good fundraiser.

    Therefore, I think the key question for Trudeau & Mulcair is who will continue to place ahead in fundraising. It doesn’t look like either one will be able to beat Harper in the near future, but whoever wins 2nd place might be the person doing the best job of drawing out enthusiasm amongst their respective parties.

  19. BK says:

    Alice – when was the last time LPC had more donors in a quarter than the CPC?

  20. Brian, looks like this is the first quarter that’s happened. Would have to look back on the annuals. I want to be able to show a lot more metrics graphically in the new Pundits’ Guide, so we can pick out these milestones more easily. I’m just looking at the weekly contributions right now, and it appears that the Conservatives raised fully three-quarters of a million dollars the final week of the Liberal leadership race alone.

  21. Johnny B Liberal says:

    Dear Pundit’s Guide:

    I can’t find any information about taxpayer donations to Liberal Conventions on their website.

    The purpose for my posts was to offer an explanation to your observation regarding why Q2 donations for the Conservative Party are high.

    Then, looking further, it came to my attention that by Canadian law, taxpayers donate more to the party than convention attendees do.

    Of course, by law, Canadian taxpayers are forced to donate more to political parties than their donors do, because of the generous tax credits.

    ex. 1: If you donate $400 to a political party, you get $300 back from the government when you file your income tax return.

    i.e. The political party gets $400
    You pay: $100
    Taxpayers pay: $300

    ex. 2: If you donate the maximum of $1200, taxpayers end up paying $625 of that, and the donor ends up paying only $575.

    Personally I don’t think that donations to political parties should be tax deductible.

    This Elections Canada website shows the tax credits which political donations generate:

    p.s. You have a great website!

  22. BK says:


  23. Shadow says:

    Johnny B Liberal since you’ve only used the Conservative party in your discussion of the tax payer deduction some might think you’re trying to make a political point against them.

    It should be said that those rules apply to and are used by all parties. Also historically it has been the Conservatives who’ve reduced tax payer support for political parties and the coalition opposition who’s supported them (ie. per vote subsidy).

    So as political attack you’re on shaky ground.

    But as a public policy matter I happen to agree with your sentiment.

    We don’t need all this tax payer money in politics. IT just goes towards attack ads, war rooms, operatives, and leader’s tours.

    Local MPs can run their own campaigns in their own riding at a fraction of the cost.

  24. Ken Summers says:

    George Pringle: ” ….the fundraising will continue to increase despite all the sound and fury put out by the Harper haters, in fact because of them.”


    [And not those substantive reasons that George gave for the base feeling that way. Thats inside the bubble stuff.]

    The somewhat more neutral way I would put it is that the base primarily sees this as essentially or mostly unjustified attacks… which is an opportunity for fundraising.

    I agree, and am not surprised. That said, I do not think it was a given that the scandals would not do some undermining of base that manifests in donations. And even if it has done nothing of the sort yet, who knows what the cumulative effects are or are not.

    Something interesting about the GPC. But I first want to have a look at Q2, and the 2012 filing for E May’s EDA.

  25. Ken Summers says:

    “…historically it has been the Conservatives who’ve reduced tax payer support for political parties and the coalition opposition who’s supported them (ie. per vote subsidy).”

    I dont have a problem on the larger point.

    But on this support of it… you said something about shaky ground.

    You are arguing GENERALLY that the Conservatives are the ones to reduce taxpayer subsidies.


    They have eliminated the direct per vote subsidy, to the great disadvantage of the other parties [especially the LPC].

    They have defended the taxpayer subsidy that benefits the CPC the most… and costs taxpayers much more than did the per vote.

  26. Ken Summers says:

    It looks like you genuinely want to see all the subsidies ended Shadow.

    But your general point was about the high ground of the CPC. That is a very different matter.

  27. Concerned says:

    Reply to Pundit’s Guide @ 2:00pm today: the $2.3 M is the amount that the Harper Government felt they needed to be compensated by the Canadian taxpayer during their illegal fundraising, which I would be surprised is not occuring at this time since they understand that the Canadian taxpayer will be liable for their actions.

    If any candidate believes there have been illegal actions within their riding during an election, is it up to them to pay for a judicial decision by the Supreme Court, the case being brought by the Harperites, which has exposed the delicate position in which Canadians find the status of their “democracy”.

  28. Shadow says:

    Ken of course all political decisions are made with a blend of ideology, evidence, and self interest. Its no surprise that the per vote subsidy was the first to go.

    But from the perspective of getting big money out of politics its a start. And not a start that the other parties were willing to make.

    Giving parties money is at odds with the parliamentary system of empowered MPs representing their communities and just creates a presidential style leader and a couple wannabes leaders.

    So yes the Conservatives get a C+, the opposition gets an F. I’m sorry I didn’t clarify that they are by no means pure on this point.

  29. Ken Summers says:

    Maybe a nitpick: I question the C+. Because I see no evidence of any desire whatsoever by the PARTY [not the base], for a GENERALIZED getting the taxpower out of supporting parties.

    You can say “its a start”. But what I see is that there was plenty of will to snuff out the direct subsidies. And I see zero will to go the rest of the way [where the party's advantage lies], even later.

  30. BC Voice of Reason says:

    ” but by that measure Trudeau-mania 2.0 has not yet surpassed Iggy-mania.”

    This is an overwhelming obvious and factual statement which calls into question the media and pollster supported concept that Trudeau is actually a somewhat realistic candidate to lead the Liberals to power and become PM.

    Money talks BS walks.

    Trudeau is not able to use the media’s boosterism in turning his supporter’s into donors. This is hugely significant in building a successful campaign and the GOTV.

    The NDP have the unions and the Liberals have to somehow connect to the activists and get them to donate and volunteer.

    Ignatief took a year off but then the media over-estimated(reported) the success of his cross country tour where he glad-handed small crowds. Is Trudeau doing even worse? (reality versus the press)

    It is sure easier for the party in power to attract funding and successful people to run as candidates. Last election the CPC added 10-12 very successful individuals to run as candidates. Now many are cabinet ministers. In the Chretien years , people like Emerson, who wanted to make a contribution to the country ran as Liberals…. Now they all run as Conservatives.

  31. Shadow says:

    Ken anything to do with elections is toxic for the gov’t right now so you’re right that further changes aren’t part of anyone’s current platform.

    But policy can and does rise up from a grassroots level.

    I see no reason why we have spending caps (riding level or party level) or candidate expense rebates. We could save a bundle by firing most of the people at Elections Canada.

    The only thing worth keeping is the individual donation limit so we can avoid millionaires buying elections. Maybe even adding further restrictions around self funding and leadership loans.

  32. Jeff says:


    In rough numbers, the fee for the multi-day Liberal biennial that crowned Iggy was around $700-$900 for adults. The one-day leader showcase thing this year was $75 to $150. So not totally apples to oranges there.

  33. I’ve been looking at the weeklies, Jeff. The main Conservative haul was during the Liberal convention, so obviously it had *some* kind of effect. ;-) The Liberal increase seems to be coming in an increase in monthly donors, whereas the NDP had a spike in mid-February but otherwise showed a consistent pace throughtout the six months.

  34. chg says:

    So glad to see the LPC number of donors noticeably up. I’d like to see these numbers go up a lot for all the parties. Even small donations show political engagement and Canada needs more of that.

  35. Gord Tulk says:

    Defied whose “expectations” specifically? The far left media?

    The cpcs core support hovers between 30 and 35 percent and has remained very solid throughout the senator expense tempest in a teapot.

    The cpcs fundraising systems are second to none and are running smoothly from this outsiders viewpoint – though I suspect they are wisely trying to convert supporters to PAD donations to smooth out the cash flow.

    So please Pundit’s Guide, do tell who specifically has had their expectations (or rather wishes/dreams) dashed?

  36. Hi Gord, and thanks for your comment. In response to your question, John Ivison for one example said on Power and Politics more than once that he believed the difficulties with the Senate were taking their toll on the Conservatives’ donor base. Did I imagine that?

  37. Gord Tulk says:

    PG: so one pundits expectation is the basis of the posts title?

    Might I suggest that outside of the punditacracy – the part cocooned in Ottawa at least – the senator expense story is (rightly) regarded as a non-story – of little relevance to the real issues in this country and void of any connection to PMSH.

    At least the fundraising data would indicate that to be the case.

  38. Gord Tulk says:

    … And that the medias bias in this regard is as much the story as the firmness of the cpcs donor base.

  39. Ken Summers says:

    Polling data does show that the various serial scandals are impacting the CPC among swing voters. Substantially fewer voters who say they will consider voting for the party is an impact, not a made up tempest in a teapot. [Though that is not just about the various spending scandals.]

    Various pundits have also suggested and expected this will also have an effect among the base. Polls do not generally differentiate among among kinds of support to give any indicators about that sort of thing. So the fundraising data is the first thing to come along.

    I’m a pundit too. Small ‘p’. Which is just someone who makes assessments of what is going on based on the evidence available. What you say makes you a pundit too Gord.

    Personally, when I heard the predictions about everything swirling around effecting the base, I said, “we’ll see.” Maybe.

    By the same taken Gord, the fact that none of this stuff swirling around is negatively impacting the base, is not a basis for you generalizing that it is a tempest in a teapot for the general public.

    And the impacts that register in the polling would not be from the spending scandals only. The WAY Harper goes about governing is not always entirely supported even among a slice of the people who vote for the CPC. Those are the people for whom the addition into the pot of the scandals can begin to eat away.

    Polling data shows that is happening. It remains to be seen whether or not that is just short term.

    And by the way, the “left wing media” had far more of a feeding frenzy in 2005 that would not stop around over the Liberals spending scandals.

  40. Gord Tulk says:

    KS: by wikis definition and mine (and I suspect most people’s) I am not a pundit:

    “A pundit (sometimes called Talking Head) is someone who offers to mass media his or her opinion or commentary on a particular subject area (most typically political analysis, the social sciences or sport) on which they are knowledgeable (or can at least appear to be knowledgeable), or considered a scholar in said area. The term has been increasingly applied to popular media personalities.[1] In certain cases, it may be used in a derogatory manner as well, as the political equivalent of ideologue.”

    Some weakening in the polls – never below the core base of 30-35 percent is to be expected in a very light season for political news here in Canada – especially with the adoration being shed on the new shiny pony JT. Those same polls now show that to be reverting back to the pattern that has been the norm for several years and the reality of JTs lack of leadership abilities sinks in with the low information voters.

    As for the claim that the media was tough on the liberals during Adscam – it needs to be understood that there was an civil war within the party going on between the martinites and the chretienites. And that the liberal media was similarly divided and intent on attacking the other side.

    A more relevant comparison is the way the liberal media in the us is covering the manifold cases of scandal/corruption/cronyism/lawbreaking by the Obama administration – not one story to date has been broken by the MSM and the conduct of the liberal Canadian media in reporting and emphasizing the senator expense issue which is positively picayune in scale.

  41. BC Voice of Reason says:

    @ Ken Summers: “Polling data does show that the various serial scandals are impacting the CPC among swing voters”

    BC election Liberals 49 seats NDP 34

    Alberta election PC 61 Wild Rose 17

    It is not that the polls were wrong they were way way way way outside the statistical margin of error wrong.

    The polls could be measuring that the various scandals are impacting the CPC swing voters when the actual fact might as easily be that the scandals are moving all the NDP / Liberal swing voters into voting Conservative.

    There is no logic in quoting Canadian Polls as anything but political statements. Canada has no pollsters, just political operatives.

    If the facts were not clear that the Cons were raising far more $ than the liberals and The NDP I would make the strong assumptions that the polls would say that the Liberals and NDP are raising far more cash than the Cons.

    There have been several headlines that have stated that Trudeau is raising huge amounts of cash when in fact Ignatieff did far better.

  42. Ken Summers says:

    So not only is it a bought and paid for liberal media. But it fissures along lines of internal battles in the LPC.

    For the record: as a Dipper, and someone who just doesnt like the quality of mass media let alone the bias, I know well the favourtism the LPC gets. We all knew where the sun would rise with the appearance of Trudeau.

    But I dont share your conspiritorial addition to that.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    The media loves scandal, or even hint of it, and they are enraptured with inside baseball analysis. That cuts across lines of ideological preferences.

    Its their idea of news. Which gets amplified after years of cuts to reporter staffing. Scandal is less time consuming to do, and it was always their idea of getting eyeballs.

    Most of all, it works. People say they hate it. But they/we watch.

  43. Gord Elliott says:

    Since the Accountability Act came into effect at the beginning of 2007 and lowered the contribution that an individual could make to a political party from $5,000 to $1,000, I think that the data for 2005 and 2006 are not comparable to the data for subsequent years and suggest that you remove them from the table. The data for the individual parties in a given year would be more easy to compare if you presented them in the order from highest to lowest values, i.e. Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc.

  44. Gord, I’m not removing any data. Most readers here understand the background. Because the data tables are generated programmatically, a standard order has been used. However, I agree that visual cues would improve the comprehension a lot. My new site will have a lot more charts.

  45. chg says:

    Gord, why the need to refer to Trudeau as a shiny pony? I’m sure others could toss similar derogatory names around for your preferred leader, but why go there?

  46. patrick says:

    Been at the cottage for several days consciously avoiding political news. This is why Pundit’s Guide rules: you can get caught up in two minutes and get back to chillaxin’!

    Sounds like fairly status quo quarter, though you’ve got to figure the Official Opposition has to stop getting dominated at some point if they want to take the next step in 2015.

    Respect, Alice!

  47. doug says:

    Happy to see this information so quickly, Alice.

    The most significant change here is that the Liberals have reached the highest number of donors in their history and outdid the Conservatives for the first time.

    If you remove the convention fees from these returns, you will see that
    Jeff is right that this beats the Iggy effect hands down as our best numbers. I also wonder what the Conservative numbers would be like if you removed the $760 delegate fee for the 2000 plus delegates they must be expecting.

    Something I would like to see is how efficent the fund raising is. The latest info I have on the cost of fund raising shows for 2009 that the Conservatives spend a whooping $7.2 million, the Liberals 2.4 and the NDP 1.6.

    I think the reason for the large number of small Liberal donors is due not to passing the hat contributions but to the campaign the party had asking people to donate $5. 14,000 people contributed of which 6000 were first time contributors(supporter category?)

  48. The small donations is a different category than the pass the hat donations, if you look at the source data, doug. As for all the other hypotheticals, every party comes up with a what-if for every quarter, so I take them all in strike. As to the cost of fundraising, that is bound to increase as reliance on the subsidy is reduced. I’ll take a look at the financial statements to see what I can glean. Thanks for your comment.

  49. Ken Summers says:

    I dont think the fundraisng EXPENSE numbers are worth looking at. What gets called a fundraisng expense is pretty arbitrary. The breadth of what auditors would accept as suffciently consistent is huge- even for a single party. Let alone being of ANY use for comparisons between parties.

    Too bad about not having any decent data available, because fundraising efficiemcy efficiency is important.

    We did have lots of indirect evidence about the fundraising ‘Iggy bump’. From observing the kind of hustling that was done, I was always skeptical whether it was sustainable. And it wasn’t.

    It also was expensive. Like Iggy himself, the national director was thought to walk on water. When he left, trimming down his position and salary for the replacement was testimony to how that worked.

    The LPC has yet to demonstrate that they are developing something that works, so far they only show they are not repeating mistakes.

    Anyway, I think that “not even matching the Iggy bump” has to be taken with a grain of salt. The Iggy bump was just another in a long chain of hype that failed to produce anything that mattered.

    Fundraising development for political parties is plodder work. I think its way too early to say that it is working for the LPC. But all the signs are that they are at least moving in the right direction.

    On the other hand, modest gains in fundraising [and probably fundraising efficiency] do not make up for a huge two year drop in revenue from the subsidies.

    The efficiency gain the LPC needs is overall expenses versus revenues. They have to raise a lot more than the NDP, just to be able to do less… the bloated administrative structure keeps them challenged on slipping further back on the treadmill.

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