Dancing about numbers

Alice Funke reviews the NDP membership numbers. Joan Bryden tallies reaction from the leading campaigns: including a claim from the Topp campaign that since the start of 2012 it has signed up more members in Quebec than the Mulcair campaign. Of 4,107 new members signed up in the province since January 1, Ethan Cox claims half came through the Topp campaign.

I reached out to a few campaigns for reaction. Below is some of what I heard in response.

From the Dewar campaign.

Every campaign will try and spin that they have sold more memberships than the others. While we know that we have signed-up thousands of new members and believe that we have sold as many, if not more, than the other campaigns, the fact is that no campaign can say with any certainty exactly how many memberships they have signed-up.

So while we track physical membership forms (we keep photocopies of all of these) and our voter ID (phone and street canvassing) makes note of every new member and how they have indiciated their support, many members signed-up directly via the Federal Party or their provincial sections online with no method of tracking which campaign they are a result of.

The best way to gage the impact of membership numbers is to look at the regional breakdowns. It is the regional breakdowns that provide the best indication of the strength of each campaign. For example, while the Dewar campaign has strong and consistent support in Quebec, BC and across the country, we have particularly strong bases of support in Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.

With our BC, Quebec, and cross country strength and strong Ontario base (especially in Northern Ontario, Eastern Ontario, and South-Western Ontario), growing Manitoba support (Dewar has received the endorsement of more than 1/3rd of the entire Manitoba NDP provincial caucus, along with the past 4 Presidents of the Manitoba Federation of Labour), and ground game in Alberta (Dewar has received the endorsement of Alberta’s only opposition MP, Linda Duncan), we feel very confident about our path to victory.

From the Topp campaign.

We are delighted with the numbers. It’s a great for the Party. And it’s also great news for our campaign. The BC numbers are very encouraging, a province where Brian has deep political roots and widespread support. We signed up more than our share of the Ontario increase. And we really worked hard in Quebec, where many of those new members are Brian Topp supporters and volunteers.

From the Cullen campaign.

We are extremely happy with the party’s membership growth. The more engaged people are the better. There are many ways to join the NDP. Nathan’s website has certainly enjoyed a significant spike over the last month; more than 800 people joined through it in the last five days. Moreover, there is every indication of widespread interest in replacing Mr. Harper’s majority with a progressive one.