Frequently Asked Questions
What is a swing riding?
A “swing” riding is a riding where the result was close previously, and there’s a reasonable chance it could be different this time. For the purposes of this campaign, we’re only interested in swing ridings where the Conservative won by a narrow margin, or the Conservative came second, meaning whoever won last time could be vulnerable.
Riding boundaries have been redrawn for the 2015 election and our analysis is based primarily on the official “redistribution” of the 2011 results provided by Elections Canada. Past results have been mapped onto the new 2015 boundaries, giving us a snapshot of what would have happened if the new boundaries were in place last time.
From these results, we’ve analyzed ridings where:
- The Conservative MP won by less than 15%, or
- An NDP, Liberal, or Green MP won by less than 5%, and the Conservative came second.
While ridings where it was a close race between the NDP, Liberals, Greens or Bloc could be considered “swing”, we are staying out of those ridings unless there is threat of a Conservative coming up the middle.
The decision to have a smaller margin for our definition of “swing” where the NDP, Liberal, or Green MP won is because we want to focus our efforts on ridings where Conservative MPs can be defeated.
Which swing ridings are you targeting?
Your riding page will help you identify whether you're in a Conservative swing or safe non-Conservative riding, and help you take action to defeat the Conservatives in the ridings where it matters most. Throughout the election, we will be empowering people in all battleground ridings to select and support the best local candidates to defeat the Harper Conservatives and move Canada forward. If you live in a safe non-Conservative riding, you can still help defeat the Conservatives by making phone calls from home into priority Conservative swing ridings.
For months, Leadnow teams have been going door-to-door to sign people up for the Vote Together campaign in Fredericton, Kitchener-Centre, London North-Centre, Etobicoke Lakeshore, Eglinton Lawrence, Willowdale, Elmwood-Transcona, Saskatoon University, Calgary Centre, Edmonton Griesbach, Vancouver-Granville, and Port Moody-Coquitlam. There are new teams popping up every week.
We selected ridings with field teams based on the following criteria:
- Defeat Conservatives: we looked at the ridings where the Conservatives won by slim margins in 2011, or where vote splitting could easily let the Conservatives win in 2015
- Support Local Strength: we looked for ridings where there are a lot of people in the Leadnow community, or strong community teams already working on the ground
- Don’t Back One Party: as a starting point, we looked for a group of ridings that have a balance between NDP and Liberal strength in the 2011 election
- Be Coast-to-Coast: we wanted to make sure that we were focusing efforts on ridings across the country
When will we decide who to vote for?
We have now completed our community recommendation process, and have recommended candidates in 29 ridings across the country. These are the candidates best positioned to defeat the Harper Conservatives, in ridings where Vote Together has a critical mass of pledgers.
How did we decide who to vote for?
On every riding page, you’ll find past election results and, where available, local polling. Our primary goal is to provide good, local information about which local candidate has the best chance of defeating the Conservatives.
Leadnow’s direction is driven by our community, so while the Leadnow team will provide local polling and information on the issues, it is ultimately up to the vote pledge signers in the riding to decide if and who to support. In 30 Conservative swing ridings where over 500 people pledged to vote together, Leadnow facilitated community recommendation processes to see if vote pledgers wanted to unite behind and get out the vote for a candidate.
Leadnow has commissioned local riding-level polls in 37 key ridings, and shares other local polling conducted by reputable polling firms, and released publicly.
If there is a clear front-runner within the riding who can defeat the local Conservative, and we have at least 500 Vote Together pledgers in the riding, we run a recommendation process.
We ask our community in each riding to vote on whether or not they want to recommend the leading candidate in an online ballot.
In the case of a 3-way race where our campaign is strong and has a team working on the ground, as is the case of Vancouver-Granville, the process is as follows:
First, we ask our community whether they want to proceed to recommend a candidate to rally behind.
Next, we ask our community to vote for which candidate they want to back, based on the latest available polling information and a comparison of party platforms the top-ranked priorities for the Leadnow community -- cooperation, strong democracy, fair economy, and clean environment.
If enough pledge signers participate in the process, a clear majority vote that we should recommend a candidate (over 55% support) and there’s a clear winner (over 55% support), then Leadnow will recommend the winning candidate, and mobilize volunteer time and money from across the country to get out the vote behind that candidate.
If no candidate is supported, we will focus on getting out progressive voters generally, and providing voters with the best, and most recent information about the state of play in the riding.
Polls are often wrong. How do you know you’ll get it right?
It’s true that polls have frequently predicted the wrong election results, which is why we're crowdfunding for more reliable local polling. Typically, polls survey 1000 to 2000 voters at a national or a provincial level, and then apply those results locally to predict what will happen. This doesn’t take into account the local conditions, so the results can turn out to be very wrong at a local riding level. It is rare for polls to focus on just one riding.
We plan to crowd-fund the money to undertake riding-level polling in Conservative swing ridings, which are far more likely to be accurate. The objective of our targeted riding level research is not to predict the results or even determine the voter preferences within one or two percentage points. It is to get a clear and accurate sense of the direction of the riding and the order of the parties, which IVR is suitable for when done with appropriate rigour.
We are taking the following measures to ensure the best possible accuracy of our data and alleviate the sampling and response bias the IVR methodology can sometimes introduce.
- Completing the survey over at least three days.
- Being sure to call back those who do not answer at least three times
- Using a short and simple questionnaire and a large sample size (500+ per riding)
- Weighting the data to accurately reflect the electorate in each riding as closely as we can
Is this strategic voting?
The Vote Together campaign is about more than voting for whoever can defeat the Conservatives.
Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, we are building an independent movement that can hold whichever government is in power accountable to building a strong democracy, a fair economy, and a clean environment. Strong relationships are the foundation of a strong community that can push decision-makers to act. All of the time you spend organizing and engaging your community is time spent building a better future, together.
We see voting together as a means, not an end. We know we can’t make any real progress with this government, so we are creating more favourable conditions to elect Members of Parliament who can push for progress on climate, democracy, and economy. This campaign is just the beginning -- after the election, we will push parties to cooperate for electoral reform in order to make sure that this is the last time we ever ask someone to vote for a party that isn't their first choice.
I can’t vote. Can I still help?
Over 2.5 million of our friends and family members live and work in Canada, but don’t have citizenship. That means 1 in 14 people who live here cannot vote because they are deemed permanent residents, students, refugee claimants, migrant workers, or entirely undocumented.
The Harper government has massively changed immigration and refugee policy, making it even harder for many people to get citizenship and easier for the government to take it away. Lack of citizenship makes people like you precarious and unable to assert your rights. This affects us all.
You can help hold the Harper Conservatives accountable by keeping the issues that matter to you front and centre. You can reach out to candidates and make sure they support the issues closest to you. You can help by volunteering in a Conservative swing riding or making phone calls from your home. Even if you can’t vote, we want and need you to be a part of this campaign.
Are you a front for a political party?
Leadnow is an independent organization and we’re not affiliated with any political party. We work across party lines on key issues -- specifically democracy, equality and climate.
We think the Harper Conservatives are standing in the way of progress on these issues, so our community decided to get involved in this election. After the election, we will push whoever is elected to work together for a strong democracy, a fair economy, and a clean environment.
We are not throwing our support behind one party. We’re trying to raise the bar for all the parties, and to support the candidates who can best represent the Leadnow community’s values in Parliament, and defeat the Harper Conservatives in their ridings.
Why volunteer with Leadnow instead of my preferred political party?
We aren’t working in ridings where a non-Conservative candidate is already the clear front-runner, and if your goal is to get a specific candidate elected, then you may be better off volunteering with that candidate.
That said, in ridings where a non-Conservative candidate has a shot at winning, we have seen time and time again that vote splitting can lead to outcomes that weren’t what most voters wanted. We don’t believe partisan organizing alone can solve that in our current system, since the parties are always - by their nature - trying to get as many people as possible to vote for them.
We also don’t think politics should be left to politicians. We are doing something the parties can’t - putting the issues first, and working to make sure that the progressive vote aligns around the candidate with the best shot of defeating the Conservative. We have heard that people are looking for a trusted independent third-party to make those calls, and that means we are uniquely placed to help avoid the vote splitting that elected Harper. Ultimately, volunteering with Vote Together will help you build the relationships and skills you will need to continue holding our government accountable in 2015 and beyond.
Why don’t the opposition parties work together to defeat the Conservatives?
Over the last few years, tens of thousands of people have joined Leadnow’s campaigns calling on the NDP, Liberals, and Greens to cooperate to defeat the Conservatives and pass electoral reform. So far, the campaign has succeeded in strengthening commitments by NDP and Liberal leaders to electoral reform.
When it comes to pre-electoral cooperation, so far only the Greens have indicated a willingness to cooperate in this way, while both the NDP and the Liberals remain determined to go it alone. Both the NDP and Greens have also said that they are willing to cooperate in Parliament with the Liberals after an election.
With the election underway, we are now helping people take matters into their own hands. We have shifted our efforts to organizing cooperation between voters to elect the best candidates who can defeat the Conservatives in their riding and move Canada forward with a stronger democracy, a fair economy, and a clean environment. After the election, we will be focused on ensuring that the parties cooperate for real progress on these issues.
Where does your funding come from?
The overwhelming majority of our money comes from individual Canadians giving small donations online. We have registered as a third-party in this election, we only use Canadian donations for our election campaign, and we will submit a full report and audit to Elections Canada.
We are incredibly proud and grateful to rely on our community for small donations that provide the overwhelming majority of our funding. As of early August, we had received over 11,400 individual donations from Canadians to our crowdfunding campaigns in 2015 alone, with the overwhelming majority of those donations totalling $10, $20 or $50. Our core funding comes from approximately 2,000 people who contribute regular monthly donations.
All in all, individual Canadians have contributed more than 75% of our funding in 2015. The remaining 25% comes from different groups for different projects, with less than 20% coming from outside Canada. These grants and donations focus on international cooperation to respond to the climate crisis - a major priority for our community members.
Why are you sharing information on election day? Isn't there a prohibition on election day advertising?
It is important that Leadnow supporters have easy access to the information they need to vote together and move Canada forward. Accordingly, we are 1) sending emails and sharing information on social media and 2) sending get-out-the-vote text messages to our supporters.
The Canada Elections Act prohibits election advertising on election day. Elections Canada has stated the following regarding what constitutes “election advertising” on the internet (see section 3.2 of the Third Party Handbook):
Election messages communicated over the Internet are election advertising only if they have, or would normally have, a placement cost (and meet all the other requirements for election advertising).
Placement cost is the cost charged to purchase advertising space (for example the cost of placing an advertisement in a newspaper or on a social media site, or the cost of running an advertisement on television or radio).
Several specific examples in the Handbook make clear that websites, email, and social media are not “elections advertising” and therefore are not subject to the election day advertising blackout. We will not be transmitting any election advertising messages – through pamphlets or utilizing other paid services – on Election Day.