An interesting thought crossed my mind after reading a post from Ken Chapman today.
Ken muses about the need for a federal election in the first half of 2008. Ken, as those of you who read him will know, is no fan of the Conservative Party of Canada or Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Fair enough... Ken is certainly entitled to his opinion. While it is rare that someone in Alberta supports the Liberal Party of Canada AND PC Alberta, it is not unheard of and its well-known in federal conservative circles.
You'll recall that, a while back, I noted that Kevin Taft's extraordinary attempts to distance the provincial Liberal party from their federal cousins had the potential to do more harm than good. Duplication of volunteers, after all, could only help the Liberal cause in Alberta.
Ken's post on the need for a federal election next year got me thinking, though, about potential implications for the PC Alberta campaign.
Should Stephane Dion choose to bring down the federal government around the same time as our expected February/March election in Alberta he likely won't be doing himself any favours. He may, however, be giving his buddy Kevin Taft a hand.
Having been quite active with both the provincial and federal conservative parties in Alberta, I can tell you first hand that there are far more people who put a greater priority on the federal party than they do on the provincial party. Moreover, those who work primarily with the feds have much more access to technology and the latest campaign strategy than has been available through PC Alberta in the past.
This hasn't been an issue in recent memory. Provincial and National campaigns have occured within 6 months of each other, but they haven't overlapped in quite some time. Moreover, the days when the federal and provincial parties shared a deep-seeded organizational and structural link are no more. The greatest collusion between provincial and federal conservatives these days is at the grassroots level, where volunteers are often doing double duty.
Although there is no clear way to measure how someone with a busy schedule will prioritize their campaign volunteering, there are a few litmus tests. Specifically how much popular support does each party have, and; how much money does each party raise?
The answer to the first question is easy to find. In the 2004 Provincial Election, 417902 Albertans cast a ballot for PC Alberta for a total of 46.8% of the popular vote. In the 2006 Federal Election, 931701 Albertans cast a ballot for the Conservative Party of Canada for a total of 65.03% of the popular vote.
The second question is difficult to answer, given that there is no simple way to track party contributions provincially in Alberta. Still, though, it is pretty well-accepted that the federal conservatives have a wider donor base.
Of course, these numbers are not static. Circumstances change from day to day, nevermind election to election. Still, though, they paint the picture as best they can.
There may be some in provincial circles who may want to ignore the possibility of overlapping campaigns either because its beyond our control or because they do not support the federal party altogether. That's the wrong attitude. We have a new leader and a new message, but we NEED people to help us get that message across.
The important thing will be for the powers that be in the PC Alberta campaign to recognize this potential risk and plan for it.
Complacency is no longer an option.