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Quebec political donations: By the numbers

Polls are one thing; money is another. What can we gauge from the fundraising of the major Quebec political parties, and what can it tell us about the possible election outcome?

According to the Directuer général des élections du Québec, there have been 33,547 donations in 2012 to date to Quebec’s political parties, totalling just over $5.3 million dollars.

Of those $5.3 million dollars:

  • 41% was raised by the Liberals
  • 34% by the Parti Québécois
  • 17% by the CAQ
  • 5% by Québec Solidaire
  • 2% by the Option Nationale
  • 1% by other parties

Money doesn’t equal votes, of course. One might expect that the more business-friendly Liberals would raise more money than the more union-friendly PQ. When you look at the number of individual donations as opposed to the sum of the dollars raised, the breakdown shifts entirely:

  • 42% of all donations were to the PQ
  • 26% to the Liberals
  • 15% to Québec Solidaire
  • 13% to the CAQ
  • 4% to Option Nationale
  • 1% to other parties

That’s almost a complete reversal, and is probably more indicative of numbers on election day, since one person = one vote regardless of wealth. The PQ is well ahead on sheer donor volume, suggesting that if donor support translates to the ballot box, it will likely not only form the next government, but in all probability win a majority.

It also suggests the economic breakdown of voters by party. For instance, Quebec Solidaire has raised 5% of the money with 15% of the donations, suggesting many small donations versus fewer larger ones. This fits with its radical-left communist stance and its young, student-oriented base of support. In contrast, the Liberals and, to some degree, the CAQ, seem to be supported by wealthier voters, more willing to donate amounts closer to the $1,000 personal limit. It should come as no surprise that the PQ is actively calling for this limit to be reduced to $100, while the Liberals are against. Like most things in politics, cui bono?

Where the numbers get interesting is when you look at who is gaining momentum. In 2011, a similar analysis showed that of $6.7 million dollars raised by the provincial parties, roughly 52% went to the Liberals, 31% to the PQ, and 7% to the CAQ, formed only in November of last year. That suggests that the CAQ’s fundraising has siphoned money mostly from the Liberals, who fell 11 points in the scale, versus the PQ, which fell only 3. Does this also indicate that the CAQ’s voter support will mainly come at the expense of the Liberals, perhaps splitting the vote in close ridings and leading to the election of a PQ candidate? Not necessarily, but very likely, especially when you consider how this mirrors what recent polls are telling us.

Finally, if you’re interested to know who is donating to whom, a simple search on the DG’s website will tell you that as well. For example, the Saputo family donates to the Liberals, as do the Bronfmans and the Desmarais. Guy Laliberté has in the past supported the PQ, the Liberals and the ADQ.

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