Liberals closed fundraising gap in last weeks of the campaign

Data from Elections Canada suggests the Conservatives' fundraising tapered off in the final weeks

The 2021 federal election kicked off with a surge in fundraising for the Conservatives, but by the end of the five-week campaign the Liberals had closed that gap — and might have even been raising more money than the Conservatives’ formidable fundraising machine.

Last week, Elections Canada published the third quarter fundraising data for the five parties that are required to file quarterly. The People’s Party, which cleared the threshold of 2% of the national vote will have to start reporting for the fourth quarter of this year.

The period in question covers July to September, so entirely encompasses the 2021 election campaign. I broke down the overall numbers in the Weekly Writ newsletter on Wednesday, so I won’t repeat myself again. But here again is how the numbers look for 2021 as a whole:

In the third quarter, the Conservatives raised $9.8 million, followed by the Liberals at $7.6 million, the NDP at $4 million, the Greens at $1.3 million and the Bloc Québécois at $1.2 million.

Elections Canada requires that the names and locations of contributors giving more than $200 be disclosed, along with the date of the contribution. All other donations are not disclosed (though some of those will be disclosed in the annual returns if the contributors give more than $200 over the course of the year).

This gives us a partial glimpse of when and from where parties are receiving their donations — and for all but the Greens, those $200+ donations represent the majority of the money raised.

But because we’re only looking at a portion of each party’s fundraising, we do have to make some estimates to get a good idea of when the parties were raising their money and which provinces were giving the most. These estimates assume that the >$200 donors are representative of the <$200 donors, which may not be the case. But it’s unlikely that small donors had a significantly different geographic distribution, or opened their wallets at different times, than those who ponied up a little more.

So, extrapolating from the >$200 donors, this is what the timeline of the 2021 campaign looks like on the fundraising front:

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