Monday, May 25, 2009

Indicators of support

Writing about the Ontario PC leadership race, Calgary Grit offers up an interesting idea in measuring leadership race outcomes:
Those who have followed this blog since the days of Bart Ramson will remember I did first ballot projections back during the 2006 Liberal leadership race, and hit fairly close to the mark. Back in the fall, when I thought we'd have an actual Liberal leadership race again, I dug up the old projections in an effort to tweak the formula, and found that the total number of donors was the best indication of first ballot support - ahead of things like total dollars raised, MP endorsements, ex-officio support, or media attention. Obviously the dynamics of this abbreviated PC race are different, but this isn't a good sign for Tim (Hudak).
From that starting point, let's take a look at the current Saskatchewan donation lists. The number of total listed donors so far is as follows (counting those who donated to more than one campaign as listed here):

Dwain Lingenfelter: 60
Ryan Meili: 20
Deb Higgins: 13
Yens Pedersen: 10

Those party-reported numbers are limited to donations of $250 and up. But we also have some additional information from Ryan Meili's camp about his total number of donors of all amounts:
As of May 21, 2009, the Meili campaign has raised a total of $36,858.36. This includes $34,988.00 from 172 individual donors as well as $1,870.36 in cash raised in financial appeals at Meili campaign events. These figures include the $22,315.00 previously reported in donations of $250 or more.
Of course, none of the other candidates has reported the number of individual donations received. So that measure can't be used directly to compare the candidates' relative levels of support - at least, unless the other candidates decide to follow Meili's lead.

But from Meili's total, it appears clear that a lot more people are donating under the radar than offering up amounts that get caught by the campaign disclosure requirements. Which means that to extent the total number of individual donations may actually serve as the best indicators of success, the currently-listed numbers tell only a small part of the story.

Moreover, the theory makes Meili's money bomb strategy look particularly well-placed to build up another easily-reported show of support before the end of the month. While the other campaigns have been less direct in seeking individual donations, Meili's public call for support would figure to improve what already looks to be a fairly strong position in the number of individual members with a stake in his campaign. Which may be just what Meili needs to put up the first-ballot performance he'll need to emerge on top in the end.

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