Musings —10.31.2019 07:20 AM—
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.
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.
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.