Numbers don’t lie. There lies their beauty.
As a statistical analyst, Jay Cross breathes and eats numbers.
For a couple of months and up to the May 2013 provincial election, the Vancouver man crunched numbers for the online fundraising effort of the B.C. NDP.
Cross is now running to become leader of another party, the B.C. Conservative Party.
The father of two boys looked at the numbers, and on his website, he has laid out simple yet elegant plan to inject life into the centre-right party.
His platform in the leadership race has three components: build a fundraising machine, grow the party, and retain membership.
Unless the party does these things, Cross believes that it will go nowhere, just like in 2013, when B.C. Conservatives failed to win a single seat, and placed fourth overall.
On the question of money, Cross notes that based on data he got from Elections B.C., the more a party spends, the more seats it stands to win.
To illustrate, the B.C. Liberal Party blew $11.7 million in 2013. It won the election, capturing 49 seats in the legislative assembly. The B.C. NDP spent over $9 million. It placed second, and got 34 seats. B.C. Conservatives used only $154,502, and won zero seats.
Cross also notes that in 2014, B.C. Liberals raised $10.4 million. That’s more 120 percent than the $85,731 raised by B.C. Conservatives.
In 2015, according to Cross, provincial Conservatives raised only $59,400. It’s loose change compared to the $10.3 million collected by B.C. Liberals.
He also has some observations about the fundraising efforts of the B.C. NDP.
According to Cross, the B.C. NDP’s fundraising has weakened since losing to the B.C. Liberals in 2013.
That could spell trouble for New Democrats in the 2017 election: “With the additional money generated as a result of their 2013 win, the Liberals may be in a position to take over NDP stronghold ridings. In fact, of almost $30 million raised by BC political parties since the 2013 general election until February 2016, eighty percent has gone to the BC Liberal Party ($23.7 million), eighteen percent has gone to the BC NDP ($5.4 million) and one fifth of one percent has gone to the BC Conservatives ($67 thousand).”
On growing the party, Cross notes that there are only 2,000 members.
In 2013, more than 85,000 voted for the B.C. Conservatives in 56 of the 85 electoral districts where the party ran candidates.
“Extrapolating to all of the 85 ridings, there would be potentially 127,000 individuals who would have or may have voted for a conservative candidate. This figure is likely an under estimation as an unknown number of conservatives voted for a liberal candidate because they did not want an NDP candidate to win. An unknown number of conservatives did not vote because they thought a conservative candidate could never win,” Cross points out.
Cross continues: “Keeping with this 127,000 figure, what this means is that during a BC general election period there are 127,000 – 2000 = 125,000 conservative voters (and potential volunteers and financial contributors) that the Party and its MLA candidates may not have direct access to. It also means that between $10 to $12.5 million in membership fee revenue is lost between election periods (assuming $20 per person per year over the 4 or 5 year period). This membership revenue alone could support the BC Conservative Party in the 2017 BC general election. However, perhaps the greatest loss for the Party and BC are the ideas and talents of these 127,000 individuals that could make a big difference to the Party and to BC.”
On membership retention, Cross notes that for every five individuals who join the party, two leave.
That’s not good: “It is challenging to grow a Party when almost half its members drop out: a 2000–member political party that recruits 200 new members every year but loses 80 will take 16–17 years to double its size. A high turnover rate may cause low morale which may cause an increase turnover rate which may cause even lower morale and so on.”
In order to give the B.C. Conservative Party a fighting chance in 2017 and future election, Cross recommends making recruitment and membership retention the primary goal of the party next to fundraising.
The party will hold its leadership convention at the Ramada Prince George on September 16 and September 17.
Former leader Dan Brooks is running to regain his post. Financial advisor Konrad Pimiskern is also in the race, as well as Chloé Ellis, a former federal Conservative candidate.