Analyzing The December #skndpldr Fundraising Numbers With Hours Left Until The January Donation Deadline #skpoli

Ryan Meili is far ahead of any candidate in either race in terms of number of individuals donating to his campaign, he is currently out-fundraising his NDP opponent, and he is also the *only* leadership candidate in either race not accepting corporate or union donations.

For that reason, he has to rely solely on donations from individuals.  If you would like to donate $5 or $50 or $500 to help support Ryan’s campaign, you can easily do so on his web site. If you donate fifty bucks by midnight on January 31, you even get a free copy of his book!

December 2017

October 2017 

A couple weeks ago the Sask NDP released their latest fundraising numbers covering the period ending on December 31, 2017 so I thought I’d do a side-by-side comparison to see if that can provide any insights.

(I’ve rounded most numbers to make the math easier – and can anyone tell me *why* UA Local 729 donated $521.27?  What a strangely precise number – maybe from a “pass the hat” event but even then, how do you end up with $0.27?  We don’t even have pennies anymore!)

Anyhow, on to the number crushing… 🙂

RYAN MEILI                 TRENT WOTHERSPOON
Total Donors  666  439
 _
Total Raised  $130,000  $104,000
Total Raised from Individuals  $130,000  $68,000
Total Raised from Unions  $0  $35,000
Total Raised from Corporations  $0  $1,000
 _
 Average Donation   $200  $240
 Average Donation
(without max donors)
 $137  $193
 Average Donation
(without max or
near-max donors >$2500)
 $115  $180
 _
 Number of Donors Under $250  597  353
 Number of Donors Over $250  69  86
 _
 Number of Max $ Donors – Individuals  8  0
 Number of Max $ Donors – Unions  0  4
 _
 Percent from Max ($5000) Donors   31%  20%
 _
 Donations From People With The
Same Surname As The Candidate
 3*  4
 _
 Total Raised in 2013 Leadership Race    $122,000  $91,000

Some patented random thoughts…

  • I put the larger number in bold in each row but there are places where some might feel that having a smaller number is actually preferable – for example, Ryan’s average donation is lower than Trent’s which likely indicates more grassroots support (even with Meili having more large donors as well – see below for more thoughts on that.)
  • I really wish that I’d found one more person to make a donation as Ryan ending up at 666 will probably make some jerk try to insinuate that Ryan’s in league with the devil or something! 😉  (The graphic at the top of this page shows 664 donors but the official numbers from the Sask NDP says 666 so I’m going with that.)
  • So many factors are hard to assess – one of the biggest ones is what this chart might look like if Meili didn’t have a one month head start in the leadership race?
  • It’s also impossible to say how things would be different if Wotherspoon had accepted Meili’s early challenge to do a “test run” of the party proposal to eliminate corporate and union donations, only for this internal leadership race and which is something Wotherspoon spoke in favour of as Acting Leader of the party:

    “Saskatchewan’s democracy should be for Saskatchewan people, free from questions of influence from corporate or union donors, and not for out-of-province companies looking to pay-to-play,” Wotherspoon said. “It’s long past time for Saskatchewan’s elections laws to be brought up to date. The introduction of the bill is that first important step.” – Sask NDP Press Release

    But you can also see why Wotherspoon may have been reluctant to forego donations by unions and corporations since Meili has raised nearly double what Wotherspoon has from individuals alone and every single one of Wotherspoon’s max donors (so far) is a union, not an individual.

  • With that said, it’s also clear that there is a bit of income inequality (heh!) between Meili’s supporters.  One Wotherspoon supporter observed that Meili got a large amount of his donations from just eight people giving the max allowable ($5000) and honestly, if it was me making that observation, I’d have gone further and pointed out it’s even more lopsided if you include “near max” donors – for example, there are actually eleven people who gave over $2500 and together, they account for around 40% of Meili’s donations.
  • But as with everything in this race, there’s two ways to tell the story – for example, Wotherspoon supporters have frequently cited Trent’s ten years of experience as one of his biggest strengths but Meili supporters might counter that means Wotherspoon also has ten years’ of baggage during a pretty rough period in the party’s history.  Similarly, when a Wotherspoon supporter criticizes Meili for getting a large percentage of his support from a handful of donors, a Meili supporter might turn it around and ask why Wotherspoon hasn’t been able to find a single individual to donate the maximum to his campaign when Ryan has found 8 (and basically, 11 if you count “near max”?)  I mean, $5000 is a lot of money but it’s not outrageous either.  Saskatchewan MLAs make $96,000 as a base salary and many get more for additional duties they fulfill.  But not one of Trent’s MLA colleagues who is supporting him is willing to max out?  Trent might not have a bestselling author supporting him like Ryan does but not one of Trent’s 439 donors is well-off enough to make a five grand bet on their man?  Even the candidate himself hasn’t come close to maxing out his contributions to his own campaign whereas (and here’s that “two sides of every story” thing again) where Wotherspoon supporters somehow see Ryan (and his family and friends) putting a lot of their own money into Ryan’s campaign, I see that as people willing to invest in a candidate as heavily as they can, especially knowing he won’t be able to rely on union or corporate donations for their big money injections like his opponent has.
  • Another way to analyze this – if you take the max donors off both people’s lists, Meili’s average donation falls by $63 while Wotherspoon’s falls by just $47, indicating that overall, Wotherspoon is actually *more* reliant on people giving bigger sums whereas Meili gets a lot more smaller donations which likely means more grassroots support.  (Another easier way to show the same thing – the list of the names of donors for Wotherspoon is 17 names longer than Meili’s.)  And if you take away “near-max” donors from both, the discrepancy is even larger.
  • Not to belabour the point but it’s somewhat rich (ha!) in my view for Wotherspoon supporters to imply Meili is doing something untoward when people are allowed to – and then do – donate up to $5000 under the rules, just as Wotherspoon’s decision to step down as Acting Leader and run for the permanent job was also seen by many as unsavoury, even if allowable under the rules.  Pot. Kettle. Black. and all that. 😉
  • Final thought on this point – I included a count of how many people with the same surname donated to each candidate – Ryan had donations from 3 and Trent from 4.  I put an asterix because Ryan’s wife has a different surname than him (a wise choice for many reasons, not least that “Mahli Meili” sounds more like a tongue twister or a character in the Marvel Universe!)  So again, charges that one candidate is getting out-sized support from his family seems overblown.
  • When challenged about accepting corporate/union donations, Wotherspoon has responded that the NDP needs all the support it can get to prepare to battle the Sask Party in 2020 when corporate/union donations will likely still be permissible.  But the five Sask Party leadership candidates raised over one million dollars – an average of more than $200,000 each (and closer to $250,000 each if you discount the low final total from Tina Beaudry-Mellor) – in their leadership contest.  The Sask NDP race has just over a month to go but our candidates have only raised an average of $117,000 each and again, Meili is far ahead, even without relying on union or corporate donations.  As Ryan said at the last debate, “The Sask Party has the numbered corporations and we have the numbers.”  To put it another way, unions will definitely have a role to play but it’s ultimately, people – unionized or not – who are going to propel the NDP to victory in the next election (and I say that as a strong union member!)
  • It’s also a bit misleading to imply that Wotherspoon is the only one getting union support.  Even though he’s not accepting their monetary donations, Ryan is still getting support from unions – for example, he was endorsed by the UFCW which is the largest private sector union in the province. On top of that, there are numerous union *members* who are donating to Ryan’s campaign as individuals or endorsing him. To take a personal example, both Shea (SUN) and myself (CUPE) have donated to Ryan’s campaign (not as much as last time, true, but do you see that “holiday countdown counter” in the top right of this blog?  That’s where our political donations are going this year!) Lo siento, Ryan! 😉
  • That brings up an interesting point as well – some unions are very politically active such as CUPE while others choose to remain non-partisan such as SUN.  So that means that some unions might end up having more influence on a candidate, directly or more subtly, which is a big part of the reason that some want to get corporate and union donations out of politics all together and leave it to individuals.
  • It’s mostly irrelevant since lots has changed in four years (Meili is now an MLA, this race only has two candidates instead of four, etc.) but it’s interesting to note that Meili also beat Wotherspoon in fundraising by more than 25% in the last leadership race in 2013.  Fundraising obviously isn’t the only important factor when choosing a leader.  But being able to amass a big war chest, especially against an opponent who dominates in fundraising, mostly via big corporate donations from within and outside the province, is going to be critical for the NDP to succeed in 2020 and beyond.  To put it another way, the fact that Cam Broten raised significantly less than both Meili and Wotherspoon in 2013 should’ve been a big red flag to NDP members about Broten’s ability to generate funds for the party going into the last provincial election.  That didn’t happen and the party ended up making minimal gains and the leader ended up losing their seat. 🙁
  • Again, tonight is the last night to donate and be counted in the January financials *and* it’s also your last chance to donate $50 to receive a free copy of Ryan’s book.  You can easily donate $5 or $50 or $500 on Ryan’s web site.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Head Tale - 100 Reasons I’m Supporting @ryanmeili for #skndpldr #skpoli on 18 Feb 2018 at 6:17 pm

    […] for the wealthiest individuals or powerful corporations. 7.  Once again, Ryan’s campaign has dominated in fundraising, earning almost twice as much as his opponent. 6. This is related to that last point but […]

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