The Federal Liberal Party has officially fallen back to earth, after more than a year of flying high. The first sign was their poll numbers returning to normal, as they now hover around 40%. While still in majority territory, they are no longer at an unprecedented 56% found in polling during their “honeymoon phase”. Then came a string a bad media coverage over their broken promises. Many on the left feel alienated by a government that promised change, but then on many files are indistinguishable from their Conservative predecessors.
Perhaps the biggest sign of their decline, however, can be found in a little-covered story. Lost in the thousands of stories about Donald Trump’s first hundred days in office, it was revealed that the Liberals has the worst fundraising quarter since the 2015 election. In this quarter, they managed to raise only a meager $2.8 million, far down from their $7.2 million high in 2015. To make matters worse, the Liberal’s numbers lag far behind the Conservative’s quarterly fundraising, which stood at $5.3 million.
— Bea Vongdouangchanh (@bea_vdc) November 2, 2015
This matters because it shows that Canadians are voting with their wallets. The low fundraising numbers indicate that supporters of the Liberal Party are not enthused enough to donate their money, and this can have long-term implications on the party. The first implication is that if fewer people like the Liberals enough to donate to them, they may be less inclined to vote for them. The second consequence is that come election time, if this pattern holds, the Liberal war chest will be significantly smaller than their Conservative rivals’. They may not be able to compete in either advertising or the ground game. This money can be used for flights that crisscross our vast country, allowing their leaders to meet much more Canadians than the Liberals.
Despite this, it is important to note that money is not everything, as the 2015 election showed us. There too the Liberals were at a significant financial disadvantage, and yet they managed to pull out their surprising majority victory. But that was against a tired 8-year-old government that Canadians had grown apathetic towards. Come election 2019, it will be the Liberal Government that Canadians are used to. If there is even a modest desire for change, the difference in budgets could play a major role in the outcome.
Of course, we are still more than two years out from an election and anything or everything can change before then. We do not even know who will lead the two opposition parties yet. For instance, all the advertising money in the world will not matter if the Conservatives elect either someone who is unilingual or who holds views that the majority of Canadians find unappealing. Kellie Leitch comes to mind. It is also possible that the economy will continue to grow and the legalization of marijuana will be a success, and Canadians will again decide to elect the Trudeau Liberals.
But none of the above scenarios can hide the fact that this is bad news for the Liberals and very good news for the Conservatives. Regardless of what the future holds, you can bet that the Liberals are worried right now, and the Conservatives are smiling.