Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Liberals Should Blame Trudeau For Few Supporters

If Justin Trudeau was more concerned about winning the Liberal leadership than winning the next election, not only would his party have more registered supporters, but 2015 would almost certainly look more rouge.

It may seem counter-intuitive to blame the ever-popular Justin Trudeau for the Liberal Party's lower than expected supporter registration numbers, after all his campaign was so successful in signing them up, but in resting on his laurels and saving funds for the next election, Trudeau is exactly the person to blame.

The current problem for the Liberals is that of the almost 300,000 Canadians who signed up to vote in their leadership contest, not even 90,000 are currently eligible. Though a slim share of the responsibility falls on the party's overly bureaucratic method of registering supporters, most of the failure to register those who had signed up falls on Trudeau's shoulders.

Of the current 8 contenders to lead the third place party, Justin Trudeau is by far the most popular. He has raised close to if not more than a million dollars in his bid to be leader (More than double his closest competitor), he has signed up over 150,000 supporters (More than half of the total), and he has the largest volunteer organization. With such vast campaign resources, rivaling his own party's, it is stupefying that he and his team did not expend even a fraction of funds to ensure more supporters registered.

But it is not hard to see why.

Elections Canada mandates that upon the resolution of a leadership campaign, "Surplus funds have to be transferred to the registered party holding the leadership contest." There is little doubt that Justin's justification for conserving campaign finances is based on the perceived certainty of him becoming leader and thus the necessity to have a war chest ready on Day 1. However in focusing on 2015, he not only undermines the present condition of the Liberal Party, but undermines his own electoral future.

If Justin Trudeau and his organizers had spent just a portion of their overwhelming resources on outreach, merely collecting the low hanging fruit of self-identified and interested supporters than not only would the Liberals have avoided this embarrassment, but there would be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands more politically engaged Canadians connected to the party. Such a benefit today would have paid dividends in 2015, with interest.

Though Justin Trudeau will still more than likely be elected Liberal Leader, and in the next election run a great campaign, it would have been far better, for him and the party, if he hadn't done it at the expense of this one.


Matthew Day said...

I think you are perhaps not thinking through the value of supporters to the party, vs the leadership campaigns. The Liberal Party already has the contact data for the supporters. The added utility of having them actually cast their ballot for leader is negligible, unless you are a candidate in the leadership race. There will be many more rewarding opportunities to engage those supporters in the coming months and years. So long as the Liberal Party works out new ways to recruit supporters, this is only the beginning of a huge and ongoing data collection recruiting drive. At least I hope it is, lol. I do not think that Trudeau exactly sat on his laurels counting email signups. His campaign made hundreds of thousands of phone calls. That is actually the problem, those phone calls did not result in enough email addresses being collected. That is at the root of the current imbroglio.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...


Data does not make a political party.

Besides the coldness of your comment, the idea that not further engaging a very sizeable portion of the electorate, ingratiating them into the party, is a critical mistake.

The Obama campaign was the largest data driven campaign to date but it was successful because of the historic grassroots effort to engage potential voters BEFORE the election.

I think it's more than obvious Trudeau saved resources for the general election, this is seen in less than adequate phone-banking (little follow up if any), no use of mailers, no or almost zero use of ads, and no spending in strengthening organization on the ground.

Austin said...

I think you are being presumptuous. I think you should also question why JM and MHF are saying "well rules are rules" thinking of the success of their leadership campaigns, rather than thinking about the potential disengaging the pool of people who haven't had the opportunity to register with the LPC, the complete antithesis to what this leadership and what this part should be about.

Austin said...
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