Nathan Cullen has never been considered the frontrunner in the race for the leadership of the Federal NDP, but last month he is attracting more political contributions than any other candidate. A possible sign that the local MP may be gaining in popularity as the party’s convention draws near.
According to data submitted to Elections Canada by the candidates, in February Cullen beat out every one of the other candidates on the number of contributions to their campaigns; taking 27 per cent of all the contributions made last month.
The man who many political commentators consider to be the leadership race’s frontrunner, Thomas Mulcair only got 19 per cent of the total number of contributions, essentially tying with Nikki Ashton.
But that number only refers to the number of contributions, not the amount money that actually went into each campaign’s coffers. When you look at that data, Cullen doesn’t come out on top, but comes pretty close. Cullen received $42,700 or about 24 per cent of all the money contributed to the leadership campaign. Mulcair received $45,700 which equals about 26 per cent.
This data also shows that Cullen’s base of support is not a nation-wide one. 74.8 per cent of Cullen’s contributions in February all came from British Columbia. But having a regional bloc of support is not all that uncommon. Paul Dewar, Brian Topp and Peggy Nash all got about three-quarters of their contributions from Ontario.
It’s hard to say what this means for Cullen’s campaign. The NDP doesn’t actually allow direct contributions to leadership candidates, but the candidates are allowed to “pass the hat” at their campaigning events to collect donations from the crowd. The number of contributors reported to Elections Canada is just the amount of people who showed up.
So if you look at the data from that perspective, then it shows that Nathan Cullen attracted more people to his events in February than any other candidate, which would be a good sign for his leadership bid. On the other hand it shows that Mulcair’s supporters give him more money per person.
Even though Cullen has caught up to the front runners in terms of event attendance and donations, it took months to get there. This means that Cullen’s campaign still doesn’t have nearly as much money as the other campaigns do.
As of February, Nathan Cullen’s campaign has raked in over $152,000 in contributions since the leadership race started. Compare that to the $241,000 Thomas Mulcair has brought in or the $215,000 for Brian Topp – but it is worth noting that Topp’s campaign has been getting less and less money every month since the campaign began, while Cullen’s has been increasing.
So why does this matter? There are few opinion polls being done for the NDP leadership race, and the ones that are being done are from the candidate’s campaigns. The campaign contribution data is one of the few independent sources where people can try to gauge the candidates’ popularity as the campaign progresses. The being that if party members are willing to vote with their wallets, they’ll probably be willing to vote the same way when the same way when the convention starts on March 23.