Monday, November 08, 2010

Pollsters Channel Alice In Wonderland

Do Canadian pollsters ignore financial health and ballot results?
     The media in Canada like to cite Canadian pollsters as experts in public opinion and with the ability to read the tea leaves regarding issues and future election outcomes. Polling in Canada versus the United States is equivalent to comparing the pewee hockey to the NHL. Measuring and shaping public opinion costs real money.
     In the United States the Obama administration led the costly public fight for Health reform. I am confident the Democratic party with pro-Health reform groups spent more than the combined budget of all federal political parties in trying to measure and shape public opinion in support of Health reform. Here is a list of polls on Health Reform.
      The mid term elections estimate  four billion was spent in campaigns in the United States. In Canada our Federal parties top out at under twenty million each for a national campaign.  That means roughly less than $ 100 million  in total for all parties and groups. In California the contest for Governor saw the Republicans with Meg Whitman as their candidate spend an estimated $143,651,194.28.  
     Good news, money is not the deciding factor in every contest: California voters decided a career politician Jerry Brown (Democrat) estimated to have spent one-fifth on their campaign was victorious. Location, location location: California, Toronto are both Liberal strongholds but Mayoral Elect-Rob Ford demonstrated Liberals can be defeated. George Smitherman has not released the political spending on his campaign for Mayor. The majority of negative  campaigning by the MSM backfired and helped propel Ford's campaign.
     Insight costs money: How much money is spent by the all Federal political parties in assessing public opinion on issues before proceeding with a policy position in Canada? Does anyone imagine it reaches ten per cent of what was spent by the former eBay CEO in 2010?
The last time the Liberal Party of Canada had more verifiable public support than the Conservatives: June 28, 2004. That was six years ago. Since than the math does not lie for the Liberals.
The Federal Liberal party might have a competitive ballot position in Toronto, Montreal Island, Vancouver and pockets in Atlantic Canada without the need to spend large amounts of money as proven by Jerry Brown.
     What lessons can we take voters in sweeping the Liberal government from office this fall?  They did not turn to the NDP but swung for a blue wave. How do you dismiss the War-chest of corporate donations for the incumbent Liberal government? Grassroots donations matter.
     Canada's Party in touch with their grassroots: Which Federal political party is supported by the largest number of individuals making small donations starting in 2004?
     Financial Health and Ballot support are overlooked in most analysis by the pundits and pollsters in Canada. In my opinion the tea leaf pollsters gloss over the importance and decline of both. This demonstrates the serious gap in the reliability of their predictive polling analysis. The merger of  two Conservative political parties, their financial health and ballot box support has transformed the political landscape in Canada.
     Federal Politics in Canada have been changed and some political parties have been unable to adjust to these regulations. Mass advertising is estimated to cost over $ 10 million. The relatively short campaign in Canada in comparison to the American system is one significant contrast. In the United States Third party advertising and support is allowed.
In June 2003, Parliament adopted Bill C-24: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act.
Bill C-24 was followed in 2006 by Bill C-2, known as the Federal Accountability Act. This legislation further restricted political donations and made other changes to the Canada Elections Act intended to increase the transparency of the electoral process and better control the influence of money on elections.

Grassroots support from individuals has become more important. Here is a very brief RECAP without introducing ISSUES. Just the Financial Health and ballot support.
  • In 2000 the LPOC has won 172 seats with 5,252,031 votes, popular support was 40.85% (swing +2.39%).
  • In 2003 the LPOC raised $ 24,160,449 from 21,830 donors. On June 28, 2004 they won 135 seats with 4,982,220 votes, popular support was 36.73% (swing  - 4.12%) was the LAST time Liberals were able to outspend their competitor in a General Election. 
  • In 2004 the LPOC raised $ 4,719,388 from 17,429 donors. Their competitor has reduced the competitive advantage in popular support and finances. Conservatives catch Liberals on Financial Health and ballot support.
Political Landscape Shift: Liberal lose advantages Dollars and Votes
The customer is always right. Walmart opening stores in Canada has transformed the retail experience in Canada?
Financial health and ballot support are reflected in the new political entity.
  • The PC party raised $ 4,324,348 from 17,941 donors, CA raised $ 8,303,537 from 82,316 donors in 2003.
Pundits, Wikipedia makes the classic mistake in combining the numbers from Joe Clark PC's 2000 with Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance 2000 election results on November 27, 2000  as if they were fungible. They are not, voters  are like customers they will decide what retailer to support.
  • The Conservative party of Canada raised $ 10,910,320 from 68,382 donors in 2004. If the supporters in 2003 were fungible the math would have been $ 12,627,885 from 99,807 donors in 2004. Donors from both parties may have dropped off.
     Managing customer expectations: if you buy a Big Mac in Toronto, Halifax or Victoria you expect it will  taste the same. In 2000 voters had the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance parties. In December 2004 the old lineup was no longer available. In summer of 2004 the ballot (menu selection) had another option. Conservatives across Canada made a decision to WIN by offering Canadians a clear alternative from the Liberal party.
     On December 8, 2003 the Conservative Party of Canada was registered with Elections Canada, making the merger of the Canadian Alliance Party and the Progressive Conservative Party official.
     March 20, 2004 convention (REAL one) with Belinda, Tony and Stephen vying for leadership of new party.  Big money from corporations and big unions is no longer a factor in Financial Health.
     GG Adrienne Clarkson on the advice of PM Paul Martin pulled the plug on May 23, 2004. The public had less than five  months to review the merged political party and two months of the leadership of Stephen Harper.
  • The Conservative Party in 2005 raised $17,847,451 from 106,818 in spite of losing the election in 2004.
     Since than, we have seen a new dominant political force reshape politics in Canada. I have been clear it takes money to be competitive. Does anyone believe the Liberals since losing power in 2006 have closed the gap in financial health or ballot performance with the Government? Within two years Dion led Liberals generated $ 5.8 million with 30,890 donors. The popular support at the ballot fell to an all time historical low of 3,633,185 voters resulting in a 26.3% popular vote.
The Conservatives led by PM Stephen Harper in three General elections
  • 4,019,498 votes in 2004
  • 5,374,071 votes in 2006
  • 5,208,796 votes in 2008
  • $10,910,320 from 68,382 donors in 2004
  • $17,847,451 from 106,818 donors in 2005
  • $18,641,306 from 108,890 donors in 2006
  • $16,983,630 from 107,492 donors in 2007
  • $21,179,483 from 112,184 donors in 2008
  • $17,702,201 from 101,385 donors in 2009
  • $12,190,066 from first three quarters in 2010.
     How much time do you need to recognize the snake oil or the salesman your are pedaling is not working?Conservatives donations do show a gain for the first three quarters from 2009. The donations to the Liberal Party has dropped off from the levels in 2009 in EVERY quarter including the number of donors.
The Liberals have been down so long that their $3.7-million increase may look like up, but those numbers should be treated with caution -- 2009 donations were flattered by two large fund-raisers and a leadership convention that provided them with a very large (and likely un-repeatable) fund-raising bump in the second quarter. -John Ivison

Pundits Guide Spike 2009
Financial Health 2009: Was Rocco Rossi blamed after second quarter fell flat?
  • The Conservatives raised $3,139,102.78 vs. $  867,064.96 from Liberals in Q4
  • The Conservatives raised $4,514,207.41 vs. $1,944,231.70 from Liberals in Q3
  • The Conservatives raised $1,253,032.14 vs. $3,878,113.54 from Liberals in Q2
  • The Conservatives raised $4,361,504.04 vs. $1,831,843.33 from Liberals in Q1 
Third Quarter 2008 vs 2009 Spin from LPOC after Q2 Big Fish
     Frank Graves of Ekos Research and many pundits don't like it. The math does not add up of a grass roots movement such as a tea party in Canada for the opposition. Monte Solberg is a consultant at Fleishman Hillard Canada and former Conservative MP, his article illustrates the mistakes in the Liberal party.
In their Tea Party, the Liberals have carelessly dropped their own tea into the harbour. They have quite casually and accidentally torched their own house. But perhaps that ascribes too much movement to their movement. It is less a movement than an inertia. -Monte Solberg
    The Liberals remind me of the former Canadian iconic retailer Eaton's that was too slow to adapt to the change in the retail landscape. The Liberal party did not emulate Canadian Tire: That was their mistake, CT has survived the new retail shift from  new and increased competition from Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's because they adapted and were not interested in resting on their laurels. What do you think?
I have sourced the information from Elections Canada, Pundits Guide and Wikipedia election results 2004-2008.
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