Poilievre smashes rivals in fundraising
Pierre Poilievre raises more in one quarter than Erin O'Toole did throughout the 2020 contest
If you didn’t think Pierre Poilievre was on track for a first ballot victory on September 10, the latest fundraising figures might just change your mind.
Because he raised a lot of money.
According to the numbers just published this morning by Elections Canada, Poilievre raised $4,042,717 in April, May and June from 36,804 individual contributions.
That’s a staggering amount of money. It’s more than the rest of the field — combined.
In second was Jean Charest, who raised $1,376,492 in the second quarter. That would be an impressive haul in any other leadership contest. But it isn’t even half of what Poilievre raised.
Trailing in third was Leslyn Lewis with $709,061, followed by the since disqualified Patrick Brown at $541,707. Not far behind was Roman Baber at $504,650, with Scott Aitchison bringing up the rear at $363,922.
Combined with the (truncated) fundraising in the first quarter, Poilievre has now raised $4.6 million, followed by Charest at $1.9 million, Lewis at $935,000, Brown at $657,000, Baber at $557,000 and Aitchison at $455,000.
It isn’t much of a contest. But Poilievre is also outpacing past leadership contestants. In 2020, Peter MacKay raised a little less than $4.1 million in the entire race — Poilievre nearly matched that in a single quarter and is already half a million dollars ahead overall. Erin O’Toole, who ended up winning, raised $3.5 million.
Maxime Bernier was the fundraising leader in 2017 and in that long contest he only raised $2.5 million. Andrew Scheer didn’t even clear $1 million.
So, it is unprecedentedly large amount of money for a single candidate to raise in a single quarter. His nearly 37,000 contributions would be a good number for the entire Liberal Party outside of an election and it is a level the New Democrats haven’t reached since 2015.
No other candidate has nearly as many contributions. Lewis was second at around 5,500, followed by Charest and Baber at about 4,200 apiece. Poilievre is averaging about $110 per donation, while Charest is averaging $328 per donation. Lewis and Baber have similarly small average donations, while Aitchison and Brown were similar to Charest.
Charest leads in Quebec, Poilievre dominates the West
While the national numbers are very impressive for Poilievre, this race will be decided at the local level. Every riding is worth an equal amount of points regardless of how many voting members are in it. So, the fundraising figures could be clouding Poilievre’s actual ability to win this race.
Theoretically, at least. But it doesn’t look like the points system will cause any big surprises. Let’s break down the fundraising figures as a share of all money raised in each province in the second quarter.
Poilievre raised more than 50% of all the money donated to the six candidates (we’ll keep Brown in the loop for now, as his members are still available) in every province except Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
In Western Canada, his advantage was crushing. In Alberta, 79% of all fundraising was his. It was 77% in Saskatchewan, 72% in British Columbia and 65% in Manitoba. Lewis was the only other candidate to break double-digits in Western Canada, raising 17% of all donations in Saskatchewan, 15% in Manitoba, 13% in B.C. and 11% in Alberta. Charest did best in Manitoba with 15% of money raised, but was at just 9% in B.C. and 7% in Alberta.
There is a disproportionate weight to Poilievre’s donations in Western Canada, however, as the region provided 54% of his dollars. It’ll be worth only 31% of the contest’s points. In Alberta, Poilievre raised $1,146,000 — nearly as much as the $1,468,000 he raised in Ontario and five times as much as he raised in Quebec.
Ontario was the most competitive fundraising battleground, with Poilievre receiving 41% of all dollars donated to candidates in the province. Charest was second with 15% ($542,000) and Brown was third with 14% ($510,000). This was Baber’s best province with 12% ($424,000), while Aitchison placed fifth here at 9% ($318,000), ahead of Lewis at 8% ($293,000).
Within Ontario, Poilievre’s strength was outside of Toronto. In that city, Charest out-fundraised Poilievre by $296,000 to $250,000. In the L postal code (broadly the Greater Toronto Area with some extra bits added), Poilievre dominated with $512,000 to just $81,000 for Charest. Brown, however, took in $361,000 in this region. Charest desperately needs those GTA members.
Poilievre raised 2.7 times as much as Charest in eastern Ontario, 6.5 times as much in southwestern Ontario and 14 times as much in northern Ontario.
Quebec was Charest’s one region of strength. He raised 65% of all donations in the province with $492,000, beating Poilievre’s $226,000 and 30% by a big margin. No one else came close, with Lewis in third at just $20,000 raised.
Charest beat Poilievre in every region of Quebec, raising more than twice as much in Montreal and the J postal code (roughly southern and western Quebec). Only in the G postal code (Quebec City and eastern Quebec) was the margin a little closer: $45,000 for Charest against $31,000 for Poilievre.
Atlantic Canada was a bit of mix. Charest led in Nova Scotia with 48% to Poilievre’s 40%, but elsewhere it was Poilievre who was ahead: 47% to 37% in Newfoundland and Labrador, 54% to 30% in New Brunswick and 71% to 16% in Prince Edward Island. Lewis was third throughout the region with Aitchison only showing a pulse in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the North, Poilievre had 60% in Yukon and 71% in the Northwest Territories, while Lewis led with 59% in Nunavut, the only region in which she placed first.
Poilievre weaker on points, but not enough to lose
So, what does this mean for the race?
Poilievre’s fundraising is disproportionately heavy in Western Canada and this hurts him in the points system since he is far less dominant in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
But it isn’t enough to provide a clear path to anyone else. Poilievre has raised about 55% of all the money so far contributed in this race. Weighted by province, though, that is only reduced to about 50%. We could see the same sort of dynamic play out with the membership — he could easily get 55% to 60% of the votes on the first ballot but wind up with around 50% of the points.
The points system could cost Poilievre a first ballot victory since Charest is likely to win Quebec and be very competitive in Atlantic Canada, and perhaps Ontario as well if he gets a good chunk of the Brown vote to actually cast a ballot. Lewis will also take her fair share of Atlantic Canada and Western Canada. That could whittle Poilievre’s points to under 50%.
But, barring a big surprise, it is harder to see Poilievre falling so far short of 50% on the first ballot that his eventual victory is put into doubt. The second or third choice support of Baber and Lewis voters should put him over the threshold in subsequent ballots if he can’t take it on the first.
With his strong fundraising data now in the system, the Conservative Leadership Index puts Poilievre in first ballot victory territory, if only just. (methodology here). Let’s take a look at how those numbers break down now.