10.31.2019 07:20 AM

No GOTV, no ID = no big V

This writer started hearing about CPC problems with voter ID and GOTV efforts well before voting day. In a tight race, there is simply no excuse for that.

Akin, naturally, is the first to report on that.

Conservatives who believe that a mere switch in leaders will vanquish the Liberal foe will likely want to face some other realities, the most important one being that the much-vaunted ‘ground game’ that helped propel Conservative electoral machines from 2006 through to 2015 has rusted and is in dire need of an overhaul.

To wit:

In the Greater Toronto Area, local Conservative campaigns had not done their homework by August to identify their committed support while Liberals had, in fact, done just that. Identifying your support is a crucial and critical job of all local campaigns.

Multiple Conservative sources who worked on GTA campaigns say the pre-writ work was simply not up to previous standards. Jenni Byrne, the veteran of Harper-era Conservative election war rooms, is on the record saying the ’supporter’ lists in the GTA had the kind of numbers on it that the party had in its first election in 2004. That meant that the 2019 version of the Conservative party gave its opponent a significant head-start in this crucial battleground.

There was a significant mid-campaign malfunction of the software that manages the national Conservative voter identification database. The Constituent Information Management System or CIMS (pronounced ‘sims’) has been a key part of Conservative campaigns for more than a decade. But in this election, data collected at the doorstep by Conservative campaigners using a mobile “CIMS-to-Go” app went missing in transmission from the doorstep to the servers at national HQ. As a result, the door-to-door work of thousands of volunteers was not being captured and used properly by the central campaign. For the local campaigns, that also meant they had to re-do many canvasses and thus wasted precious time and resources during a writ period.

At some point in the campaign, local campaigns were asking the CIMS database at HQ for lists of what Conservatives call “likely accessible voters” — the key group of persuadable voters any campaign wants to focus on. But it quickly became apparent to many campaigns in the GTA that what local campaigns received from headquarters in Ottawa was not lists with thousands of names of “likely accessible voters,” but was, in fact, lists of avowed Liberal or New Democrat supporters. So at some point, Conservative campaigners were either wasting their time, or worse, were actually pulling the vote for their opponents. CIMS had to be shut down or curtailed as a result, leaving local campaigns with a huge data blind spot that would prove to be fatal for some campaigns.


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    Robert White says:

    The Conservative candidate for my riding did not even show up for the all candidates debate, and the Conservative volunteer canvassing person did show up at my door one week before voting day. Unfortunately, their ground game was bush league compared to the Liberal Party that canvassed early on and kept reminding prospective voters like myself that were canvassed early before the writ signing day.

    Scheer cannot be blamed for all the faults and actually warrants another go round for 2023 IMHO.


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      Ron Benn says:

      Robert, based on the posts that you have made in the past, it is clear that your party preference is Liberal. Not a complaint, just an observation. In contrast, my leanings are slightly to the right of centre.

      So, I have to ask myself, are you in favour of retaining Andrew Scheer because it enhances the probability of another Liberal government in about two years time?

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        Robert White says:

        My support for Scheer is fair & true in that I know that only the Conservative Party will invest in Athabasca Oil Sands development that supports National Revenue coffers for Resource Taxation.

        I was raised by a CA that worked Senior Rulings Oil, Mines, & Resource Taxation National Revenue CANADA.

        I grew up on oil just like the rednecks in Alberta did.


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          HarryR says:

          We “rednecks in Alberta” thank you for your support.. ……..I think.

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    Dean Rivando says:

    David Akin is a good journo who reports the facts without fear or favour, but this story raises a lot more questions than it answers.

    1. Didn’t CPC do pre-writ canvassing? The time to start canvassing was March, not August. Identify those who are definitely going to vote for you and those who definitely are not whether or not there is a candidate in place.

    2. Was “CIMS-to-Go” tested thoroughly before it was rolled out to campaigns? Or was it all done on the fly? Hard to understand if the latter as there was a fixed election date.

    3. How many campaigns actually tried to use “CIMS-to-Go”? How many kept using it despite data being ‘eaten’ and disappearing, presumably forever? Were campaign managers forced to use something that wasn’t working? If my data were being ‘eaten’ and I couldn’t isolate and fix the problem immediately, as a campaign manager I would go right back to manual lists. Did CPC campaign managers not have this autonomy?

    4. Scheer’s political problem was that he just didn’t have very many “accessible voters”. But I can’t tell from the story whether the problem Akin identifies was at the canvassing stage or at the GOTV stage – big difference. There are situations where you can pull GOTV vote randomly, or from lists of those who have voted in previous elections, and increase your vote, but they are rare.

    5. “CIMS had to be shut down” – um, what? You don’t fly blind with *no database*. You just don’t do that as a campaign manager. You work around the problems.

    6. How widespread were these problems experienced? Strange to hear about such problems only now, above all because it’s Conservatives were talking about here.

    Ultimately, technology is only as good as the level of organization and the number and quality of volunteers (and paid staff) you have. Technology is a means, not an end. And if central campaign is fucking up, none of it makes any difference. Central campaign totally fucked up in this case. There weren’t any ‘possible supporters’ to find. CPC’s campaign was focused on core supporters. Scheer needs to dump these people. Not to say that the problems identified by Akin and whoever he spoke with didn’t exist. But the problems with Scheer’s campaign were more fundamental than a mobile canvassing app not working properly.

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    Paul says:

    My local CPC candidate was at our door 2x during the entire campaign. The LPC candidate’s people were by at least 6 -8 times, including 3 in the days leading up to election ( 2 alone on V-day). Maybe had 6 robo calls from CPC and at least 2 per week from LPC. And, I am a CPC member. They did not miss a day contacting me for money, and the calls have not stopped, as I hoped, since V-day. So that part of the machinery works just fine!
    I could tell things were stalling when I stopped seeing CPC signs go up about half way thru the election period, while the LPC signs were showing up in greater numbers, every week.
    I am not a fan of my LPC MP at all, but really must commend him on his ground game.

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    the real Sean says:

    I’m actually not a fan of wasting time on GOTV and think it gets waaaaay more attention than it deserves. Local campaigns mean precisely nothing in this era, except in a handful (about 30-40) of ridings. I think the whole GOTV apparatus is just a way to keep supporters busy and out of the hair of the central campaign. Voters often don’t tell political parties the truth and they often change their mind between being identified and actually voting. Complete waste of everyone’s time. Plenty of losing campaigns have excellent GOTV efforts. Why? Because it doesn’t mean a damned thing.

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