National Party Transfers During Elections – The Liberal Party

Yesterday, I reported on the Conservative Party’s national transferring behaviour to local candidates.  Today, I look at the Liberal Party.

In thinking about the literature on political parties in Canada and the political environment during the three elections, I expected parties to:

  1. Support candidates who cannot or did not raise their own money.
  2. Support candidates in ridings where party support is higher, but not too high (like in safe seats).
  3. Support candidates in regions where party support has traditionally been low but the prospect for growth is good (like Conservative and NDP prospects in Quebec).
  4. Support high-quality candidates.

Liberal Party Transfers

The Liberal Party’s transferring pattern to local candidates did not match my expectations as well as that of the Conservative Party.

First, the Liberal Party was more likely to transfer money into constituencies where the candidate had a chance to win.  For every one-point increase in the margin of victory/defeat of the previous Liberal candidate, national party transfers would increase by $70.09.  This means that a candidate running in a constituency where the previous candidate won the election by 10 percentage points will raise $1,401.70 more than a candidate running where the previous candidate lost by 10 points.

Second, like the Conservative Party, there was a regional aspect to Liberal Party transfers to candidates.  Candidates running in the Prairies and in British Columbia were more likely to receive party transfers than candidates running in Ontario (Prairies +$3,670; BC +$1,880).

Third, the party transfers were significantly lower in 2006 and 2008 than in 2004 most likely the result of weaker national fundraising.  A Liberal candidate running in 2008 received $2,600 less, all else being equal, than a Liberal candidate in 2004.

Fourth, the Liberal Party was more likely to transfer funds to female candidates than male candidates, all else being equal.  Female candidates running for the Liberal Party received, on average, about $1,200 more in national party transfers than male candidates.  This is most likely the effect of the Judy LaMarsh fund and efforts by the party to recruit and support more female candidates.  In contrast, there was no gender difference in party transfers for the Conservative Party.

Finally, the Liberal Party was not more likely to transfer money to quality candidates and the relationship between candidate fundraising.  Moreover, the party was less likely to support candidates who could not raise their own money than with the Conservative Party.  For every dollar a candidate raised on their own, Liberal transfers decreased by $0.013.  In other words, with the limited resources it had, the Liberal Party was more likely than the Conservative Party to support candidates who already had money but that the quality of the candidate had little effect on party transfers.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248



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