One Third Of Liberal Supporters Didn't Provide Emails? Seriously?

Correction: just over a third of new supporters didn't provide an email address when they signed up.

If it's 2013 and you don't have an email address, how are you even hearing about Liberal leadership campaign events where someone's signing you up as a supporter? If you think I'm being overly harsh, you probably found this post via a service that required an email address to sign up... so you're kinda proving my point. Email is entry level stuff, and should have been required when candidates' teams were registering people, to ensure economical and efficient comms and to demonstrate at least a bare minimum level of commitment (unsubscribe from the fundraising emails if you like, but at least let the party send you an online voting PIN). Let people who are serious about participating but don't have email send a Western Union telegram to party HQ if they want to receive a ballot in the mail.

For the sake of perspective, in 2011 it was found that 98% of Canadian households had access to broadband. Adjust for those under 18 being ineligible to vote, and for that 100k to be representative of its proportion in the Canadian population would require a total voter count of around 3.5 million people.

Which is just under a million more than actually voted for the party in 2011 when the stakes were arguably a bit higher.

Coyne's column from yesterday argues that the supporter class was a bad idea, that $10 is a minor enough barrier to entry that perhaps the party should require it of those who want to participate in the process. I agree in principle, but that logic assumes rational actors, and there's no shortage of studies that show how powerful a motivator the word free can be when it comes to distorting perceptions of value. $10 seems minor and is minor in absolute terms, but compared to FREE! I wouldn't expect much difference if the cost of membership were $20, $5, or $50. Such is the power of free, and 200k emails isn't a bad place to start with years to go before an election.

The whole process was also a valuable experiment to find out just how desperate we were for vanity metrics that we'd take a chance on 100k people without even getting a bloody email out of them. I suspect the party's going to spend more on mailers to these folks than it'll ever recoup in donations from them. Maybe the numbers will look better in a week at the end of the extended registration period, but as generally optimistic as I am about the future of the party, this particular situation seems pretty brutal at the moment.


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