So not the same thing.
If the party releases the numbers, we’ll know the actual number of people who have signed up to vote in the Liberal leadership once the party has gone through all the forms and deleted the duplicates, triplicates, and the various fakes. We’ll also know how many signed up as supporters – with no financial or other real ties to the party – and how many signed on as members.
In the meantime, a couple of the campaigns released their own numbers on how many people they signed up. The Paul Antle camp is claiming around 10,500, while presumptive front-runner Dwight Ball’s team is claiming 15,000.
At a staged media event, Cathy Bennett didn’t offer reporters any numbers of her own to reporters. Bennett just said she wasn’t worried about 10,000 or more supposedly signed by her rivals. Ok. She’s focused on launching a tour that was in no way just more of the same travelling around thing she’s been doing since July but this time dolled up for a staged media event. Fair enough.
Certainly if the experience in Alberta or at the federal level is any indication, the numbers of sign-ups could be upwards of 50,000 as suggested by the Antle and Ball claims. That’s about the same as the number of votes the Liberals got in the past two provincial elections.
Early on in the leadership contest, those numbers looked high to your humble e-scribbler. They might still be high if you try and figure out the actual number of voters.
If that experience in other similar contests is a guide, the final numbers of people voting would be much smaller and that’s where the challenge could start for the leadership campaigns.
In Alberta, they had 29,000 supporters plus another 3,500 members. Only about 27% – 8,000 - voted. At the federal level, Justin Trudeau won with about one third of the total number of supporters his campaign initially signed on. About 125,000 people actually registered to vote while Trudeau’s campaign apparently claimed upwards of 300,000 supporters on board.
If the Liberals in Newfoundland and Labrador had the same sort of result as the feds or Albertans, you’d wind up with about 16,500 voters this November. That’s still quite a few people, mind you and far better than anything the other two parties have done in a leadership contest within the past 60 years.
So yeah. Objects in provincial politics might actually be much smaller than some people make them out to be. .The challenge for the campaigns will be hanging onto as many of their own people as they can and, maybe, reaching out to pick up as many defectors from other camps as they can get.
The relatively low turn-out compared to eligible voters wouldn’t be surprising. In any campaign, the number of potential voters can be quite a bit higher than the number that go to the polls. That’s one of the reasons why campaigns usually give people every opportunity to connect with the individual voter through an integrated communications program. They want to give people reasons to sign on or join in. You’ve got to motivate people to keep them and you’ve got to give others every chance to join in with the rest.
So when the campaigns don’t do that sort of thing at all, it stands out.
Will they start soon?