My previous post asked whether the People’s Party of Canada had overtaken the Greens. In that post, I compared polling, membership levels, donations, and number of EDAs. Several months have passed since then. This post updates my analysis with the most current information.
In December, the PPC claimed 33,000 members, most of whom joined for free as “founding” members. In a late-March mailout, the PPC now claims 36,000 members. The PPC now charges for membership, so these additional 3000 members would all have paid to join the party. This represents a growth of 9%, and would put the PPC further ahead of the Greens’ 15,000 paid members. (I do not have an updated membership total for the Greens at this time.)
Two caveats: First, claimed membership numbers cannot be verified, because they are not tracked by Elections Canada or any other independent body. Second, comparing PPC to Green membership numbers is apples-to-kumquats. PPC members all chose to join, but many did not pay to do so. GPC members all paid, but some only intended to donate, not to become members.
In December, the PPC claimed to have formed EDAs in all 338 federal ridings, but those EDAs could not yet register with Elections Canada. Meanwhile, the GPC had 174 registered EDAs at that time, a significant portion of which were dormant “shells”. (See my report, Decade of Decline, for details on the GPC’s “shell” EDAs.)
There is now Elections Canada data for both parties, allowing for a direct comparison. As of today, the PPC has 222 registered EDAs, while the Green Party has 190. The PPC is two-thirds of the way to registering its 338 informal EDAs, while the Green Party has increased its total by 16 over the past year. The quality and activity level of these EDAs remains to be seen, but on sheer numbers, the PPC has legitimately overtaken the Greens.
In December, the PPC stood at 1.8% and the Greens at 6.9% nationally, based on the CBC Poll Tracker‘s aggregation of recent polls. As of today, the numbers are 2.3% and 7.9% respectively.
Since the SNC-Lavalin affair became public, support for the Conservatives, NDP, Greens, and PPC has increased while support for the Liberals has dropped. The upward movement for both the Greens and PPC corresponds with this time period.
In my opinion, these changes in support don’t tell us anything significant about the relationship between these two parties. The factors I discussed in my previous post remain unchanged and the Greens are still solidly ahead of the PPC in polling.
Third-quarter fundraising for 2018 was not comparable between the two parties, because the PPC had only existed for part of the quarter. The Greens had fundraised $555,000 and the PPC $331,000. (These numbers only account for donations to the central party, not to its individual EDAs.)
In the fourth quarter of 2018, there was a dramatic difference in funds raised, with the Greens raising $1,470,000 to the PPC’s $318,000. (It’s typical for the Green Party’s fundraising to spike in the fourth quarter of each year.)
(First quarter 2019 data is not yet available, but based on a PPC mailout, they are closing on $300,000 again, while the Greens will likely raise more than half a million dollars.)
As was the case in December, the Greens hold a clear lead in polling and have raised far more in donations than the PPC. Membership numbers are still not directly comparable (or verifiable), but claimed numbers now greatly favour the PPC with an additional 3000 paid members. EDA creation, now verifiable through Elections Canada, continues to strongly favour the PPC.
Do I stand by my assessment that the PPC is “a party within striking distance of the Greens”? Yes. The statistics in which the PPC leads indicate growth potential. However, for now, the Green Party remains the more established and supported party.
What is more important than the “horse race” aspect of these statistics is the insight they can provide into grassroots party-building strategies. The Greens began their rapid growth in the mid-2000’s as a grassroots party, but have since de-emphasized EDA creation (or failed at it), and have almost completely centralized their fundraising.
Meanwhile, the PPC has declared its intent to create 338 EDA’s in time for the election, and appears well on the way to achieving that. The question is whether this will result in the same rapid growth that the Greens experienced, and the implications that has for the importance of EDAs in Canadian federal politics.