From the moment you land on Planet Liberal, the inhabitants are at pains to impress upon you the Sense of Momentum, of Renewal, of Optimism in the party. Yes, the wind is at their back, the road is rising to meet them, and God holds them in the palms of his hands.
Which is all very well: they’re six points up in the latest Ekos poll, while Michael Ignatieff scores well on some leadership scores (though not others) when compared to Stephen Harper. But, um, beyond that?
In a convention that even its sponsors admit is largely devoid of either drama or substance, the focus is on nuts-and-bolts, party-building stuff like fundraising and voter-tracking software. So the evidence of momentum that excites the most buzz is on the fundraising front. And indeed, first quarter figures from Elections Canada show the Liberals added 5,000 donors over the same period last year, while total donations more than doubled. In the same period, the Conservatives lost 5,000 donors and suffered a 12% drop in donations.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The trend may be in the Grits’ favour — but they’ve got a long way to go to catch the Tories. Compare the absolute levels of donors and donations for each of the parties (last year’s figures appear in parantheses), and a more sobering picture emerges:
Liberals – 15,230 (10,160)
Conservatives – 39,432 (44,345)
NDP – 10,304 (13,329)
Liberals – $1,831,843 ($846,129)
Conservatives – $4,361,540 ($4,954,550)
NDP – $595,611 ($1,119,648)
It is probably grounds for optimism that the Liberals are no longer lagging the Tories by a 6 to 1 margin, as they were this time last year, but have closed the gap to a mere 5 to 2. But steady on.