By Rachel Emmanuel
The United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership candidate Danielle Smith’s campaign has sold over 7,000 memberships in 10 days, True North has learned.
Two Smith campaign sources confirmed the numbers to True North. The sources are not being named because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly.
The sales indicate that Smith is far ahead of her other eight competitors in the race for Alberta’s premiership.
Smith’s 7,000 membership sales reflect sales that occurred after July 4-5, meaning the campaign’s actual sales are likely higher. Smith was the first candidate to jump into the UCP leadership race on May 19 — less than 24 hours after Premier Jason Kenney announced his intentions to resign. Her campaign began selling memberships much earlier than July 4, but were unable to accurately track sales.
The 7,000 sales True North is reporting seem “quite low” compared to Smith’s actual membership sales, said campaign manager Matthew Altheim.
All UCP leadership candidates have access to membership sales purchased through their candidate-specific portals, referring to a URL where Albertans can purchase a membership directly from a candidate’s campaign. But as True North previously reported, the Smith campaign did not have their portal setup until July 4-5. The campaign instead sold memberships on the general UCP website which doesn’t allow candidates to accurately track sales.
Campaigns can estimate sales sold through the general UCP website. Once a campaign email is sent, the campaign can track which users click a link to visit the UCP site to purchase a membership. From there, the campaign can make an educated guess on what percentage of those users completed a membership purchase.
By tracking membership sales, candidates can gauge their support — it’s probable but not guaranteed that party supporters who purchase a membership through a candidate’s website will also vote for that contestant in the leadership race.
Smith’s membership sales can in part be attributed to her large online presence and reach, which far exceeds that of her opponents. A video she posted promising never to lockdown Alberta again has almost 200,000 views on Twitter. Another video pledging to introduce the Alberta Sovereignty Act as her first act as Premier — legislation which would bar federal bills deemed harmful to Alberta — has over 200,000 views on Twitter and Facebook.
The UCP has seen an increase of approximately 11,000 memberships since the leadership race began. That spike represents memberships sold from the time the leadership contest began — when Kenney announced his intentions to resign on May 18 — to when Toews was approved as the first official candidate on July 5.
Smith’s sales indicate that total memberships sold is now likely far higher than the 11,000 new members the party had as of July 5, because her 7,000 sales began when the last membership was printed revealing the 11,000 increase.
UCP executives told True North that campaigns sometimes overestimate how many memberships they’ve sold to create momentum for their candidate. They pointed to the ongoing federal Conservative party leadership race as an example. Pierre Poilievre claims he sold 312,000 memberships, now-disqualified Patrick Brown claimed more than 150,000 sales and Jean Charest said his team sold “in the tens of thousands.”
Smith officially handed her leadership package in last week with 4,500 signatures — over four times the amount required by the party — and her entire $175,000 contest fee. She’s the first candidate to submit all required funding.