Ontario PC Membership Numbers

Membership sales for voting eligability for the Ontario PC leadership race closed last night and there have been reports and boasts from various campaigns as to their numbers. A source close to the party called me tonight and passed on the following information.

Before the leadership race began, party membership stood at 8,500 members. Through the PC Party website and through late submissions from riding associations who have re-sync’d their numbers with the central party office, that number has risen to 15,000. These new memberships are not attributed to any campaign.

The surprise news is that Frank Klees sold the most memberships compared to the other candidates, according to my source. Klees has reportedly sold about 9,000 new memberships for the party. Upon further analysis, this may not be so surprising as Klees sold more memberships in the 2004 contest as than anyone did in this one; Klees has the benefit of old lists of supporters that he could call upon. Thus, the quality of the memberships is a bit suspect and it is unknown as to whether he’ll be able to get these members out to vote. Klees’ membership numbers are concentrated in York and Peel regions.

Christine Elliott apparently is in second place with about 8,000 new memberships sold. Elliott’s membership base is fairly spread out but has high concentration in Toronto, 905, Windsor and some in SW Ontario. Elliott’s campaign is reportedly dead in the Niagara region.

Tim Hudak, of course, is very strong in the Niagara region. Further, his numbers show strength in Hamilton and fairly strong in Peel region. Hudak comes in at just under 7,000, according to my source.

Randy Hillier rounds out the pack with about 3,100 memberships sold. No surprise, Hillier is strong in eastern Ontario but is quite weak in the other regions.

Do these numbers give us any insight as to who might win this? In my opinion, not too much. 6,500 memberships were sold through the party website and I know some campaigns, such as the Hudak campaign have aggressively sold online and via the party site. On the other hand, I’ve heard that the Elliott campaign has polled well among the already established 8,500 members.

I think that we can make a few conclusions:
– there are no hard conclusions except to say this may be anyone’s race except for Hillier
– Klees may surprise, but only if his numbers are firm. He may also take a chunk of the established membership base.
– Hudak’s sales underwhelm, but barely. CP ran a story last night detailing weak fundraising totals (behind 10:1 vs. Elliott). But in the end, members voting will win this. If the party’s 6,500 non-attributed members break Hudak, he may still be strong. Yet, despite this we cannot and should not conclude that Hudak is the perceived front-runner even though he’s worn this title up until now.
– Elliott is within striking distance. If her numbers are indeed spread out as they are, she may be able to deliver under the party’s 100 point per riding system.
– Hudak and Elliott will do their best to appeal to Hillier support. Elliott’s flat tax proposal and Hudak’s HRC triangulation are obvious overtures to Hillier’s base. We will likely see more though I think it will be Elliott that sides against the bears. Hudak, however, has opportunity elsewhere in Hillier’s platform.
– Klees’ strategy will centre around raising money to deliver votes, and running on experience. If Klees projects as Premier, he may become this province’s next head of government. Those that have written Klees off early will be taking another look given these numbers.



41 thoughts on “Ontario PC Membership Numbers”

  1. I've heard similar numbers from multiple and very solid sources, and the math makes sense based on the totals. Makes sense based on fundraising numbers as well. Hudak's campaign team seems like they haven't quite hit their rhythm yet in this campaign. A few too many missteps, and it seems to have cost Hudak BIG.

  2. I had heard that Klees was 1st, Elliott 2nd, and Tim 3rd. Seems like Hillier is not much of a factor, except for feeding the others policy ideas.

    But good on you for tracking down the numbers and reporting it in this much detail. Look forward to continuing coverage of this important race.

  3. Randy Hillier would have been fun :-).

    I do think though that the HRC removal has to become a plank in the PC Party if for no other reason than to bait whomever opposes it as opposing free speech and other REAL human rights.

  4. Looks to me like Tim's campaign is in freefall. That's a surprisingly low number for a frontrunner. Did they submit through the ridings and the Party website? Sure – no doubt all campaigns have done the same. So all campaigns may be higher than reported here by that token. Let's see… third in membership sales, third in fundraising, not such a good performance!

  5. I think that this comment is a bit misleading. I stated that the 6,500 in non-attributed sales will be the king maker. We don't know who sold the most out of this block. Also, who will get second ballot support?

    Freefall? I wouldn't characterize it that way.

  6. Hudak's campaign sold through their site, not through the party site. And only 4000 memberships were sold through central party, not 6500. Any memberships Hudak sold online are already classified in his reported memberships sold.

  7. My understanding is that the Hudak campaign has actually raised over $200,000, and since Elliot's inital numbers showed a few $15,000 donation, I'm not sure how much she can raise from those sources. It's kind of like with the Democrats where Hillary tapped out her donations because she had fewer but bigger donations, while Obama was able to go back to the same donors because the donations were smaller.

    As for memberships, I've heard that Tim's signed up 14,000 new members, which is certainly a lot more than the 7000 your source has reported. In any case, it looks like this race is going to go for three rounds of counting.

  8. CTV.ca is reporting a party source quoting 40,000 new memberships from an original 8,500 when the race began. Let's do some numbers.

    40,000 – 8,500 memberships = 31,500 new memberships.

    The party has 15,000 non-attributed memberships that makes

    40,000 – 15,000 = 25,000 memberships

    You've heard that Hudak has sold 14,000 memberships.

    25,000 – 14,000 = 11,000

    14,000/25,000*100% = 56% of new attributed memberships sold.

    So, did Tim Hudak sell 56% of all new attributed memberships?

    7,000 can be confirmed as Hudak memberships. Even if he sold ALL of the non-attributed new memberships, he'd have 13,500 memberships.

    There is some boasting going on from all campaigns.

  9. When John Baird first ran as an MPP, I was so impressed by how dedicated he was to my former riding that I joined the party, hoping to take an active role. It seemed that the only role I was to have was a source of funds – nothing but invitations to this and that event which, of course, meant shelling out some money. Well, I didn't (and still don't) have much in the way of discretionary income but I do have some time and ideas to give. Nope, no response in that regard. Then, the riding boundaries changed and so did my MPP who, to be honest, is one of the most useless MPPs around. My MPP wins because where I live (I moved but still retained the same MPP) my area is solid blue.

    I let my membership lapse and have not renewed it. I don't think our party is unique in this regard, unfortunately. Until such time as I can have a valid voice and have some input which is recognized and taken seriously, I won't join as a member. I will, however, always vote Conservative.

    I have enormous respect for John Baird – I wish me was my MP. The guy seriously takes care of his riding and, despite being busy, he is not above PERSONALLY speaking with constituents and handling their issues. Federally, my MP is Conservative, but still not a strong MP. At least he's Conservative and for that, I'm grateful. WhenI bought my home, I made sure that it was in a strongly blue area.

  10. 8500 members in ontario? normal base of membership? Jesus< Percapita…its like GM. Look at the rolls in 1998 Nova Scotia party lists and it would be better than that.

  11. I'm not sure the membership numbers are anything to crow about just yet.

    In my own federal riding where we do not have a sitting Liberal and no declared candidate the potentia one shave sold well over 1000 memberships w/o even declaring themselves in the race.

    just trying to put things in perspective, as usual.

  12. This whole race is really raining on Tim Hudak's parade. Third in membership sales? After major press articles that his fundraising is lagging? What gives? Looks like he is not the front runner anymore and this race is up for grabs.

  13. Interesting numbers there, Stephen.

    It will be interesting to see the full number count, because we never know when these were inflated or not, or more exactly, to what extent.

    From what I heard, Hudak’s campaign had a presence in every riding in the province, which could translate in winning over many of those new members. And as for the fundraising issue, it seems pretty clear to me from what I read, I think it was the Globe, that Elliott got major donations from fewer, big shot supporters. Those may not equate to a strong voter turnout…

    Who knows tho.

  14. Interesting stuff, Stephen, but why are you not counting that many of the 8,500 attributed to Frank Klees are buried in the Party number? If you go to his website, you'll notice that his “Join the Party” link goes to http://www.ontariopc.com…hence a lot of Frank's members would have joined the Party directly. I think that Tim has shown the strongest organization province-wide, he boasts the most support among caucus, federal ministers, and riding presidents, and is an extremely strong campaign.

  15. I can't believe Hudak didn't outsell everyone else by a long shot. His whole campaign was that he was the front-runner, meanwhile Klees seemed to have no steam at all. If Klees is concentrated in one or two counties then it looks like in reality Christine is in first for the time being. I think the momentum is definitely with Klees and Elliott.

    I have also been hearing a lot of reports of infighting, organizers being replaced, people offering support and not being called etc., in the Hudak camp. They seem really disorganized and it shows in the memberships and the donations. Not that this is set in stone, but it's making me question my Hudak vote, because I don't know if he can be trusted to build a good team for the election.

  16. Track Right is a mess, memberships are lost ! President Ken Ziess was informed his membership expired like many others including myself.The numbers are easily disputed as memberships have not been inputed.

  17. Hudak has been preparing for this Leadership race for almost 2 years. If that doesn't tell you how awful this must be for him, then I don't know what will.

    The Party exec raced to have a quick election and now they might be regretting it because their Boy may be off the ballot after Hillier.

    Its anybody's race a t this point and much will come down to the campaign performance of each Candidate.

  18. So: conclusion is, we can’t draw any conclusions.

    Also, if Klees really has that much support, it must be pretty secretive, since I haven’t heard of a soul who’s supporting him.

  19. I have been following this leadership election with some interest. With John Tory I allowed my membership to lapse. It was interesting to receive both Phone calls and letters from prospective leaders even tho I was not a currently active member. Either they were using an old list of Harris supporters, or my membership in the Fed. Conservatives. I have since joined and intend to vote. While I have narrowed my list down it can change. Who will win is difficult with the voting system, choosing 1st,2nd, etc. A final comment I am impressed with the use of the internet by the candidates – I thought by now Stephen with your tech wizardry you would have evaluated/commented.

  20. Is anybody surprised that the Elliott people are claiming big numbers and saying that Hudak is out of it? I'm sure they had their “Hudak falls flat” spin ready well before they had any idea how many memberships he had sold.

    Apparently Hudak has an organization in every riding; they say he even had scrutineers out in every riding when the Elliott people had next to none. He has half the caucus, over half of the riding presidents, over half of the past candidates and more MPs than Elliott.

    On anything you can actually verify, he's winning by a mile. Is it really believable that the best organized campaign, with the most support on every measure, hardly sold any memberships?

    The one thing I know is that the only people who were actually smiling this week were Hudak's; they are probably keeping quiet because they know that if they turn their people out they will be almost impossible to beat.

  21. Anybody but Frank! Do we really want to just give the next election to Dalton McGuinty on a silver platter? Because that’s what will happen if Frank Klees is the leader of the party.


    Kinsella won’t even need a new campaign plan. He can just dust off the last one.

  22. Sorry “I Like Winning Elections” but I don't think that the issue is so cut and dry. It seems from the quote below that Tim Hudak was a big fan of Faith Based Funding Himself! Please note, this quote was taken right from his website.

    “Support for parents who choose to send their children to independent faith-based schools has been a long-standing cause for me; and guessing by the feedback I received from my column last month, it remains an important issue with many area residents. First, the Ontario PCs will increase funding to public and Catholic schools for such priorities as special education and cutting down the amount of split-grade classes and portables. Secondly, we will respect the decision of parents who choose another option for their children by extending funding to independent faith-based schools.”


  23. Sure, Tim supported Faith Based funding in the 2007 election, as did all the current leadership candidates. The results of that election are what is driving the current policy process within the party (a process Tim champions and respects).

    However, keep in mind that fair funding for those who choose to send their children to other schools could take the form of tax credits (which Jim Flaherty introduced as finance minister) or direct funding (that John Tory thought would win him votes). It could be something as simple as refunding the education portion of your property tax bill if your child attends another school.

    The winning of 2011 will require a leader who can build a team, articulate true conservative principles and provide real solutions for the middle class.

    That is why I am supporting TIm.

  24. Actually what I'm surprised about is this comment. I haven't heard or seen a single number from “Elliott people”. If anything, they have been surprisingly quiet, not claiming any number big or small.

    Now I know there has been at least one outlandish number being pushed by a campaign that is double what Stephen reported in this article – in fact if you scroll up you can see it in this comment thread. I believe it was your own campaign claiming this big number.

  25. “A source close to the Party”, eh? How is Richard Ciano anyway, Stephen?

    Its interesting that these numbers are EXACTLY what I've personally heard the big-headed Patrick Harris running around telling everyone who will listen.

    The campaign that was pulling out 190-year old Kay Weatherall and Senator Lowell Murray – who sits as a PROGRESSIVE Conservative, rather than in the Conservative caucus in the Senate – as plum endorsements this week is the campaign with the “big mo “? Uh, yeah. Oh, and I forgot the John Hastings endorsement. Hell, that will put her over the top. I'd watch the houseplants at HQ, though. Might find a bit of a surprise when Johnny is in town. .

    If you look on her website today, she has article after article talking about how she's “on the move”. Her team are ALL over Twitter pumping up her numbers (and this article, of course. Can't imagine why, right Stephen?). If she's doing so well, why spend so much time and effort trying to convince the unwashed masses?

    Desperation – its what's for dinner.

    Sure Christine Hogarth over at PCHQ is calling it a horserace. I can't imagine why. Why would anyone in the Party want to ensure this thing is competitive in the media?

    What a joke.

  26. So let me get this straight – I Like Winning Elections claimed to be “anybody but Frank” because he/she claimed that the election was given to Dalton McGuinty on a “silver platter” based on the faith-based school funding polcy intiative? This was not entirely clear based on that post but that was what I took from it. Here’s The Truth correctly pointed out that Tim Hudak not only supported the policy in 2007 but is also boasting about it again on his current campaign leadership bid site. Tony Quirk then claimed that Tim Hudak supported this policy becaue all of caucus did as it was part of the party platform in the 2007 election but, did not address the fact that he still supports it. There were some ramblings about funding formulas and how Ontario needs strong leadership and that is why he is suporting Tim. Okay so he is suporting Tim. Tim is supporting faith-based school funding policy still. So, I Like Winning Elections – I assume then that you are not a Hudak supporter either? Does that then make you any “anybody but Tim and Frank?” Mr. Quirk, do you or do you not support that particular policy item? I did not seem to find the answer in your post. I was not able to relate your answer as to why you were support Tim with respect to what I Like Winning Elections and Here’s The Truth was claiming?

  27. I support the Frank Klees campaign and these numbers are very close to what we’ve heard as well. But I’m desperate, too I guess.

  28. Personally, I'd like Runciman to run – every time I listen to him speak, I'm more impressed. Unfortunately, he's not running.

  29. Hudak has been crystal clear that the issue of public funding for religious schools was decided in the 2007 election, and that he won't be bringing it back. If you need more specific evidence, get a transcript of the media Q&A when he announced his candidacy and he spoke to it very directly.

    The fact that somebody has dug up a link to a pre-election web page (from June 2007) in which Hudak loyally supported Tory's platform is neither here nor there. I would expect that all of the candidates were on the record supporting Tory's platform in 2007.

  30. It does not surprise me at all that Klees has sold the most memberships! Don't forget he didn't start his campaign until John Tory had officially resigned, which is why it appeared his campaign was off to a slow start and had no steam at all. Klees has strong support in his riding (where I live) because he's been an exceptional MPP. He's very accessible and he's been an effective leader. What I think is most important about him is that he's not a career politician – he was a successful businessman before becoming an MPP – and it's that kind of experience and leadership sorely needed in this province right now. I have a feeling his campaign is just getting warmed up, and the more people get to know him and hear him speak, they'll be as convinced as I am that he'll be a great premier!

    And how many times does the lie need to be refuted that he had anything to do with the faith-based school funding debacle?! Let it go, he had nothing to do with it! http://www.thestar.com/comment/columnists/artic

  31. I certainly don't question your numbers, and in fact they make sense to me. The one thing that I can say about Klees, is that he has been supportive of the other candidates and their worth. While others across the province are spinning the future we have to keep in mid the wishes of the party to have as bloodless a battle forthe leadership as possible. Klees has done his share, and the voters recognize it. The question perhaps should be,who has demonstrated that they will best be able to pull the party together again when all is said and done. In my opinion that is Klees, he has always been a class act, and continues to deliver.

  32. It seems that Stephen has broken another story since I have heard similar numbers from others now for a few days. I read the comments posted here with great interest as to this point, this leadership campaign has been quite positive and I am encouraged that the leadership candidates seem to recognize that win or lose, they will have to find a way to work together going forward. These candidates represent the cream of the Ontario PC Caucus and all bring much to the table. Having had the chance to hear a few of them speak, I know they seem to consider one another friends and colleagues and it would be nice to see posters here try and stick to discussions about issues instead of drive by smears. It is obvious that all the Leadership candidates supported the school funding proposal in the last election, at least publically. For me, the more important issue is about determining which of these people is best equipped to defeat the real enemy – Dalton McGuinty – in the next provincial election; it's about evaluating which of these folks has the right blend of experience to manage our Party to victory and to bring prosperity back to Ontario. I have decided to support Frank Klees because I think his experience in business and government make him most qualified to manage our party and to defeat Dalton McGuinty in 2011. I think the other candidates have a lot of promise and may someday be the right choice to become leader of our Party, but for now, I am not sold that they have the experience and skills to win in 2011.

  33. Tony, huge fan – keep up the great work on the exec.

    I would have to say though that the only one who can say they “championed” the policy process is Klees. As a long time party member I was at the convention when he was on the executive and brought forward the PAC process.

    I would also suggest any leadership candidate who has come out with as many policy “proclamations” as Hudak has doesn’t necessarily respect the policy process either.

    Just as importantly as you saying if we had the policy process in place the Faith Based Funding issue wouldn’t come up – it wouldn’t have come up either if all three candidates last time had not promised during the leadership race to address the issue. Perhaps policies that are announced during this leadership race could be the sword we fall on next time.

    I’m voting for Christine but I wish they would stop making commitments (ie flat tax), they could in a few years become toxic and we saw where that got us last time.

  34. I don't understand when and why the pundits resigned Klees to a first ballot loss in the first place.

    It's not like he is coming way out of left (or right) field. He has been a longtime MPP, minister, and a former leadership contender.

    He may have a lot of grassroots support, this proves he wasn't as deformed as (some) people thought he was…

    Contrary to to what the Hudak Camp believes, not every Harris-Blue Tory is supporting them and many who originally signed on with them are loose, where as the other campaigns seem to be holding support.

    And why are so many people pushing the idea that “Hillier will do better than you think”.

    He clearly will not. Get over it. Hillier may be “fun”, but we're running for Premier, not Mayor of Springfield (Plus, Quimby is a lock)

    Christine has a ton of top level support, and good for Jim for arranging all of that for her, but on the ground she is pretty weak.

    All campaigns numbers will be in/deflated, and concentrated. It's politics.

    These clearly put Klees/Elliott as frontrunners, with 2nd ballot figure in… Klees has the lead

  35. Not anymore, maybe Tim was stronger when he started campaigning 2 years ago but once everyone joined the race when it was official he definitly lost his momentum. As for his supporters listed on his web are not accurate and considered soft support. I like Tim but he is runing too fast without thinking and this goes with experience, maybe next time Tim.

  36. Not anymore, maybe Tim was stronger when he started campaigning 2 years ago but once everyone joined the race when it was official he definitly lost his momentum. As for his supporters listed on his web are not accurate and considered soft support. I like Tim but he is runing too fast without thinking and this goes with experience, maybe next time Tim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *