B.C. Election 2020: Parties push supporters for last-minute donations

The Liberals are massively outspending the NDP on social media platforms in the waning days of the provincial election campaign, apparently convinced that races in key ridings are “closer than anybody thinks.”

Even the B.C. Green party — eager to reprise its role as kingmaker and social conscience in the legislature — has bumped up spending ten-fold after shattering fundraising records.

Leading in pre-election polls, the New Democrats can now see two determined opponents in the rearview mirror, and on Monday they launched dozens of ads on social platforms and successive waves of ads every day since.

The New Democrats spent $25,157 on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger on Oct. 20, their biggest one-day expenditure to date. However, the Liberals spent $73,278, also their biggest day so far.

Since the campaign began, the Liberals have spent $633,910 online, compared to $328,441 by the NDP and $42,250 by the Greens.

“We know this election is going to be so close,” said Liberal campaign co-chair Sarah Weddell in an email to supporters. “Closer than the polls show. Our plan is working.”

The Liberals made a last-minute plea for $5 donations Thursday morning to push their message. This week’s ads are a blend of attacks on Premier John Horgan and key campaign pledges to open auto insurance to competition, hire more police, and suspend the PST.

“As we get closer to election day, our donors are continuing to step up, and yesterday we saw a rise in our fundraising numbers, reflecting British Columbians’ commitment to seeing a B.C. Liberal government elected,” said Rachael Segal, senior director of the Liberal party.

The NDP sent out a similar last-minute fundraising blitz early Monday morning, warning supporters that by being badly outspent “we risk being drowned out.”

“This is the first election campaign since the B.C. NDP banned big money from our politics,” said acting party director Heather Stoutenburg. “We are proud that we have been successful in fundraising from a record number of donors.”

Facebook and Instagram ads launched by the NDP mid-week are nonpartisan messages aimed at helping people find their way to polling places.

The Greens have hugely increased their spending, from just a few hundred dollars a day early in the campaign to more than $7,000 a day this week.

Since Sonia Furstenau claimed the party leadership 38 days ago, the Greens have raised $834,750, more than double their total during the last election campaign.

“It is so humbling to see this support from British Columbians,” said Furstenau, adding that B.C. doesn’t need to go back to the “divisive two-party system of the pre-2017 era.”

Neither the Liberals nor the NDP revealed how much money they have raised for this campaign, but appeals to individual donors are more important than ever.

Between January 2017 and October 2017, the Liberals raised $8.1 million in political contributions from corporations, according to Elections B.C. The New Democrats raised $4.6 million from trade unions during that period.

Contributions to political parties from unions and corporations were banned under rules adopted in November 2017, which led to a significant drop in revenue for both parties.

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