(I don’t think there was any question about who I’m supporting but just to be sure I “outed” myself as Ryan’s Social Media Director today . With that said, I stick by my original disclaimer from the start of the race that, although I’ve been up front about my biases, I see this blog is an independent entity where I can share my own thoughts and ideas. I may be complimentary – or critical – of all the candidates, including my own. But again, my posts on this blog are not to be taken as the official position of the Meili campaign.)
Well, the first financial reports for the Sask NDP leadership race are out and, like the social media results at the start of the race, you could make a case that each of the candidates is doing the best in one way or another.
Cam Broten has raised the most and also tweeted earlier today that he’s made the most from donors giving less than $250. (Info about donors under $250 isn’t disclosed so I was temporarily confused. But his team clarified that if you take the total raised and subtract the amount disclosed that’s been raised from >;$250 donors, you can discover who raised the most from low dollar donors. There’s no way to figure this but it’d also be interesting to know how *many* low dollar donors each campaign has. To put another way, I’d rather than 10 $10 donors than one $200 donor even though the latter means you’ve made more – at least initially.)
Cam’s in the lead in a couple ways but you could spin each of the other candidates as “winning” as well. Trent Wotherspoon has reached out to the most businesses/organizational donors so far and perhaps some would consider spending the most as a “win” too though I don’t agree.
Erin Weir (tangent: my muscle memory makes me type “weird” every single time I type Erin’s last name. So if that ever slips through as a typo, no harm intended and I’m not subliminally trying to imply he’s weird- honest! In all honesty, Erin is growing on me every time I hear him speak!) has the highest average per >;$250 donor.
Meanwhile, Ryan Meili is the candidate who’s least reliant on self-funding his campaign, either through a personal donation or funding by high-level campaign team members and family members which I think is a really good sign for his future prospects.
On that note, Broten, Meili and Weir each got about half their first month’s take from just three donors (in Broten’s case, three who are all obviously closely involved with the campaign – two people named Broten including Cam plus his campaign manager.) Trent actually got a whopping 3/4 of his take from his three top donors!
Still on that note, two of the four candidates – Trent and Erin – both gave their campaigns the $5000 max donation within the first month (Cam gave himself $2000 and Ryan only donated $557.37 as an in-kind donation to his own campaign) which also means Trent or Erin won’t be donating further – although presumably surrogates such as spouses or family members can and will still donate.
Just for speculation, had Ryan given another $4500 so he was at the maximum just as Trent and Erin did, his total would’ve been $17 700, good for second place on the list behind Broten (of course, if Broten had maxed out, he’d also have been a really dominant position as the first campaign to crack $20 000, although, again, that’s with the “three insiders as top donors” caveat I stated earlier.)
What else jumped out? I guess the huge deficit that Trent Wotherspoon rang up within the first month was a bit of a surprise. I knew he’s been putting on a lot of miles traveling to all corners of the province [edit: and had a really glitzy launch] but I’m not sure if deficit spending is the way to go, especially when we’re a party that’s constantly attacked (unfairly) for not being able to control our finances. [Edit: Someone has already tweeted about the SaskParty must be salivating to see the NDP Finance Critic ring up such a huge debt!]
And spending nearly double what you took in looks pretty extravagant to my eyes. Of course if the big spending strategy pays off by giving him an air of inevitability and allows him to attract more and more money as the race gets near the end, it will have paid off. But personally, I think that’s a risky strategy if it doesn’t work out that way and Trent (and by extension, party members who can expect ongoing appeals to help retire his debt) will be burdened with a big debt at the end of this as has been the case in other leadership races (hello Brian Topp!)
Same with Erin Weir – for an economist, I was surprised to see him playing it so close to the line with expenditures equal to 97% of his income.
Cam wins the contrib:expenses ratio metric too – having spent 57% of his contributions where Ryan comes in second having spent 63% of his contributions.
Final observation – I talked above how Ryan would be in second place for fundraising if he’d contributed the maximum (Cam’s in first place whether he donated $2000 or $5000.) But if you flip this and *remove* candidate self-contributions from their totals, a different picture emerges. If you don’t count what candidates provided as seed money, Ryan’s still in second place…
Cam Broten – $17 700
Ryan Meili – $12 600
Trent Wotherspoon – $10 400
Erin Weir – $9 700
And this is really hard to figure as I don’t know all the names of all the donors and their roles but if you take out people who are obviously family and/or top-level campaign people, Ryan’s in the lead and Cam drops to a near-tie with Trent.
(Did I mention off the top that you could spin these results to say anything you want?)
Anyhow, it’s a long race and with Trent and Erin having maxed out their donations already, you have to wonder where they go from here? I think the most interesting results of the race might actually be next month’s – those will show where the real momentum is after the initial funding from the candidates and their strongest supporters is removed from the equation.