Author Archive: Felecia Lowe

Liberals lead Tories by 7; Closer race among likely voters

With just under two weeks to go in the campaign, the Liberals continue to maintain a small advantage over the PCs.  Among eligible voters, the Liberals have opened up a seven-point lead, but among those most likely to vote, the Liberals and Tories are statistically tied with the Liberals at 37% and the Tories at 35%.  The NDP has failed to gain any momentum, despite Andrea Horwath’s more aggressive strategy last week.Well, the aggressiveness of the strategy doesn’t matter because what matters really is whether the strategy is futuristic to lead the country successfully into the future! This is how you ought to choose any solution be it the financial solution or the personal solution! If you are more eager about the former then, check this futuristic Tesler App solution!

While the debate could shake up the race, deeper analysis of the poll results suggests that the Tories have little room to grow beyond its current support and there is little enthusiasm for the NDP among the key swing groups that would consider voting NDP.

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Consider these findings: among those who would consider voting Liberal or NDP but not PC, the Liberals lead the NDP by 20-points.  More importantly, when asked how they would react to a Liberal, PC, and NDP government, these voters were more likely to be “delighted” with a Liberal win, few were delighted if the NDP won, and almost all would be dismayed if Tim Hudak was able to form a PC government.  The state of mind among these voters bodes well for the Liberals as they seek to squeeze the NDP by raising fears about a Hudak government.

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The upside for the Tories is that their supporters appear to be more motivated and more likely to vote, hence the small gap between them and the Liberals among likely voters.  However,  it is clear that the first three weeks of the campaign have been won by the government, not the challenging parties. The PC campaign needs to reverse this direction in order to win – the debate carries extraordinary stakes for Mr. Hudak now.

Interest in the campaign remains remarkably low at this stage, with only 22% of eligible voters saying they are following the campaign closely and only 36% saying they have given quite a bit of thought to the campaign.

The leaders’ debate could increase interest but all signs at this stage point to another low turnout election in Ontario and a legislature that looks very similar to one at dissolution.

Key Findings

  • The Liberals have opened up a 7-point lead over the PCs with 37% for the OLP, 30% for the PCs and 24% for the NDP.
  • Among likely voters, Liberals lead by 2 over Tories (OLP 37%, PC 35%, NDP 22%).
  • Liberals continue to lead among key swing groups – including those who would consider voting Liberal or NDP and those who would consider voting PC or Liberal.
  • 32% of eligible voters think the Liberals will win while 22% think the PCs will win.  Four in ten (39%) are unsure who will win the provincial election.
  • We also asked respondents to tell us how they would feel if each of the main parties formed a government.
  • Eligible voters were more likely to be “dismayed” if Mr. Hudak and the PCs formed a government (44%) while 36% would be dismayed if the Ontario Liberals formed a government.  Respondents were less likely to be dismayed at the prospect of an NDP government led by Ms. Horwath (31%) and were more likely to say  they wouldn’t mind an NDP government.
  • Interest in the campaign has not changed since the previous week of polling.

Methodology

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted online with 1,000 respondents who are eligible to vote in Ontario. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Ontarians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from May 28 to 31, 2014.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.   The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 875 committed voters of the same is +/- 3.4 %, 19 times out of 20.

Likely voters were identified by creating a six-point scale based on seven questions about a respondents interest in politics, their intention to vote, whether they have voted already, and the attention they have paid to the election campaign.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.

Ontario Liberals lead Tories by Two

As the Ontario election campaign enters its second half, no party has a clear lead in vote intention.  The Liberals have a small lead among all eligible voters and among those most likely to vote, they have leaped ahead of the PCs and now lead by three points. The NDP remains competitive but still well back in third place.

The Liberals continue to do well in Toronto but the race is very tight in the vote and seat rich region around Toronto.  The Liberals and Tories are deadlock at 33% in the GTA region with the NDP not far back at 25%.

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Despite the fact that the advertising ban was lifted on Wednesday May 21, interest in the campaign has not increased since the previous week of polling. Moreover, 60% of eligible voters still report not being contacted by any party or campaign.

At this stage of the campaign, survey data indicates that the Liberal and PC campaigns have been most active province-wide however respondents living in NDP held ridings were more likely to report being contacted by the NDP; a sign that the NDP is concentrating on the ridings it currently holds as well as a handful of ridings it thinks it can win.

Despite the Liberal lead, only 24% of eligible voters believe the Liberals and Kathleen Wynne deserve to be re-elected.  51% think it is time for another party to take over while 25% say they are unsure.  This group of “unsure about change” voters is the key to understanding how the election campaign may ultimately turn out.

Right now, the Liberals lead among these “unsure about change” voters (OLP 26%, NDP 16%, PC 12%) but 39% are still undecided about how they will vote.

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While many will likely not turn out to vote, the Liberal lead is built around these voters not shifting their opinion on “time for a change.”  If a large portion of these voters shift their preferences or do not turn out to vote due to a lack of motivation, it will be very difficult for the Liberals to win.

None of the challenging parties seem to be gathering momentum so far in the campaign.  If the mood for change is going to grow and firm up, neither Hudak or Horwath are making that happen so far.  This may change if more voters start paying more attention to the election.  Wynne may not being moving forward but she is at the very least holding her own, against a mood for change.

These voters are the most important target for the NDP as it seeks to expand beyond the 25% support it has because these voters are not intense in their desire for change but are not convinced the Liberals deserve another term in office.

Key Findings

  • There has been little movement in vote intention in the past week.
  • Liberals have a small two-point lead among committed eligible voters (OLP 34%, PC 32%, NDP 25%). 15% of eligible voters are undecided.
  • Liberals lead among likely voters (OLP 36%, PC 33%, NDP 24%).
  • 51% of eligible voters think it is time for another party to take over.  24% believe the Liberals deserve to be re-elected.  25% are unsure.
  • Among those unsure about whether it is time for a change, the Liberals lead by 10-points over the NDP.
  • Liberals lead in Toronto and Eastern Ontario (area codes starting with K). PCs ahead in southwestern Ontario. OLP and PCs tied in Greater Toronto Area (postal code starts with L)
  • NDP tied with Liberals in the North.
  • Tories lead among those aged 60 and over, men, and those living in rural communities.
  • 60% of eligible voters report not being contacted by a party or a campaign.  24% report being contacted by Liberals, 22% by the PCs, and 14% by the NDP.
  • Interest in the campaign has not change since the previous week of polling.

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Methodology

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted online with 1,000 respondents who are eligible to vote in Ontario. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Ontarians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from May 21 to 24, 2014.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.   The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 864 committed voters of the same is +/- 3.4 %, 19 times out of 20.

Likely voters were identified by creating a six-point scale based on seven questions about a respondents interest in politics, their intention to vote, whether they have voted already, and the attention they have paid to the election campaign.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.

Ontario Election Roundup: Unpredictability is the Word

The opening round of this Ontario election battle has been well worth watching. Anyone who says they know how this election will turn out is truly only guessing, as I see it, because many voters have not yet turned their attention to the choices on offer.

If it’s too early to tell how things will end up, it’s not too early to talk about what’s happened so far and how some of the positions taken and campaign messages might influence voters. Here are a few things that have struck me so far.

In our polling, it’s clear that many voters think the economy is under performing. While this is usually a pretty good indicator of a desire for change, it’s critical to understand the psychology of how voters think about politicians and the economy. It’s far from a binary situation – there’s more nuance than one might think.

When the economy is terrible, voters think almost anything would be better, and this is usually when change happens electorally. However, when people think the economy is weak (but not terrible) we can often see different, more tentative instincts. Voters want the economy to get better, but for those who are employed and able to pay their bills, there’s also some fear that it could get worse, with the wrong measures.While it is certainly important to choose the right leader who could stabilize the economic situation of the country, you can also do your own share by choosing the effective measures like the Ethereum Code, an automated cryptocurrency investment platform to boost your own economy! This measure has also been favored by many real users, which means your success is assured! So, more about the elections!

This is the context in which Tim Hudak’s Million Jobs Plan has landed. The challenge he’s facing is that his formula may sound great to the most conservative voters, but a leap of faith for others. To some ears, it may sound like harsh medicine, the kind of thing that feels like it could produce hard times rather than good times.

Anyone who says they know how this election will turn out is truly only guessing, as I see it, because many voters have not yet turned their attention to the choices on offer.
Anyone who says they know how this election will turn out is truly only guessing, as I see it, because many voters have not yet turned their attention to the choices on offer.

Uncertain voters may want to believe in the Million Jobs upside, but they don’t know if that’s more than a slogan, and haven’t yet developed a sense of confidence in Mr. Hudak’s economic judgment. Moreover, while they don’t know they can truly count on the million new jobs, they are sure they can count on the 100,000 job cuts he’s promising.

For some voters, Mr. Hudak’s plan is an encouraging signal of more fiscal discipline and a promise of better times to come. For others, it sounds like mass layoffs, longer hospital wait times, bigger class sizes and fewer consumers with money to spend. Polling so far suggests that if this election was tomorrow and it turned on his economic plan, he just might fall short of a victory once again – so his work is cut out for him.

Kathleen Wynne main effort so far is about ensuring this election is about anything but Dalton McGuinty and his last years in office. Liberal ads profile Wynne, far more than the party, and this has paid off somewhat. A remarkable number of voters already see her as an improvement over her predecessor (40%), despite the fact that the economy has not noticeably improved in the year or so that she has been Premier. If she is allowed to not run on the Liberal record she will jump at the chance. To date, her opponents have mostly given her that gift.

For the NDP, there seem to be big challenges to overcome. First, there are plenty of progressive voters in Ontario, but only about 1 in 5 who might consider themselves left wing. The party, not unlike the Conservatives, has to motivate a leftist base and at the same time reassure those in the middle of the spectrum that an NDP change would not be too radical. Doing this requires great communications skills and a handful of marquis policies that show how to bridge these perspectives. So far, there’s little evidence that the NDP has been getting this job done.

Bottom line? There’s plenty of time left for opinion to form, and even re-form. Leaders have had a chance to work out kinks in their campaigns and road test their messages. This is the period of time when the campaign teams need to be able to be clear eyed about how they are doing and concentrate on what they might need to do differently, to be more effective. The race ahead looks interesting, to say the least.

Bruce Anderson is the chairman of polling firm Abacus Data and a founding partner of i2 Ideas and Issues Advertising.

Download all our releases from the week

1. Ontario Liberals and PCs tied at 33%

2. Wynne ahead as best Premier

3. Top Election Issues: Jobs and the Economy

Wynne ahead as “Best Premier” but Horwath has least negative impressions.

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Download report here

Yesterday, we reported that the Liberals and PCs are tied among committed eligible voters while the PCs have a slight lead among likely voters.  Today, we focus on leadership and how Ontarians view the three individuals vying to be the next Premier.

While NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has the more favourable personal numbers (or the least negative), Kathleen Wynne has the advantage on who would make the best Premier.  This, despite the fact, that the Tories lead the Liberals in vote intention among likely voters.

Leadership1

Our results indicate that Kathleen Wynne is likely having a positive impact on Liberal fortunes so far.  Her numbers are not  significantly weaker than Andrea Horwath’s and are more positive than Tim Hudak’s.    She’s perceived to be different and a better Premier than her predecessor Dalton McGuinty by a plurality of eligible voters.  More importantly, she’s liked more than the other leaders by voters in the key swing groups we have reported on.Well, it is true that people notice and appreciate someone who is different, in a positive way, from others! The same is the case when people trying to find a suitable financial solution, where they get easily attracted by different aka unconventional means like the Crypto VIP Club than the conventional complicated measures that are prevalent!

Leadership2

Wynne also has a more or equally positive brand image than her competitors.  She more likely to be seen as a capable leader and despite all the challenges she’s faced dealing with the gas plants issue, as many voters consider her to be “more honest than most politicians” as they do of Horwath or Hudak.

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The challenges for Tim Hudak persist over his personal image.  The first days of the campaign have not improved his image.  Only 22% of the electorate has a positive impression of him and he trails Wynne on best Premier.  The biggest challenge for Hudak is convincing the OLP/PC swing voters that he would be a better premier than Wynne.  Right now, only 17% consider him to be the best choice for Premier but with 47% of those voters “unsure”, there is still plenty of time to shift perceptions.

Key Findings

  • Andrea Horwath has the best leadership evaluation among eligible voters.  Her net impression is +8, compared with -9 for Kathleen Wynne and -20 for Tim Hudak.
  • Kathleen Wynne leads by six on “Best Premier” among eligible voters.  Wynne 26%, Hudak 20%, Horwath 18%, Unsure 35%.
  • Wynne leads as best Premier among all age groups except for those aged 60 and over.  Among the oldest group of voters, Hudak has a marginal two-point lead over Wynne.
  • Compared to Dalton McGuinty, 40% of eligible voters consider Kathleen Wynne to be a better Premier, 34% consider her neither better nor worse, and 12% consider her to be worse.
  • Despite the challenges faced by the Ontario Liberals, Kathleen Wynne’s personal brand is relatively strong.  She is the leader most likely seen as a capable leader and she is tied with Andrea Horwath when it comes to being “down to earth” and “understanding the problems facing Ontario”.  Most noteworthy, she is tied with Horwath on being “more honest than most politicians.”
  • Among the OLP/NDP swing group (representing about 20% of the electorate), Wynne has a commanding 18-point lead over Andrea Horwath on which leader would make the best Premier.  Wynne was selected by 43% of voters in this group compared with 25% who selected Horwath.  Thirty percent were undecided.

Methodology

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted online with 2,000 respondents who are eligible to vote in Ontario. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Ontarians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from May 14 to 16, 2014.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 1,672 committed voters of the same is +/- 2.4 %, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.

Likely voters were identified by creating a six-point scale based on seven questions about a respondents interest in politics, their intention to vote, whether they have voted already, and the attention they have paid to the election campaign.

Ontario Liberals and PCs tied at 33%

Abacus Data and the Sun News Network are tracking every twist and turn during the 2014 Ontario provincial election.  Talking about the elections, every election is important, as it decides the country’s current and the future situation, including the economic situation. While it is important to choose the right leader who could create better economic plans for the country, depending upon it entirely for your favorable financial situation when reliable means like the Bitcoin Code are available, is absurd!

Each week, starting May 14, Abacus Data will conduct a representative survey of eligible voters in Ontario.  Results will be released the following week on The Battleground with David Akin at 5 pm ET and in Sun Media papers across Ontario.

Liberals and PCs tied at 33% among eligible voters.  PCs have a three point lead among likely voters. OntarioElection_BallotAs the campaign entered the second official week of the campaign, the Ontario Liberals and Progressive Conservatives were tied with 33% support respectively.  The NDP was in third with 26% support.

Among those most likely to vote however, the Tories lead by three. Regionally, with the Liberals ahead in metro Toronto and weak in southwestern Ontario, who wins the most seats will likely be determined by voters in the communities surrounding Toronto.  Right now, the Tories have a slight advantage but there are still many voters who would only consider the Liberals or Tories who are still undecided in the vote and seat rich region of the province.

The Liberals are competitive because they have been able to maintain support among progressive voters who are considering both the Liberals or NDP and among more conservative or free enterprise voters who are considering voting either Liberal or PC.

For the Tories to pull well ahead, they have to convince far more of those who would consider PC or Liberal to support the Tories while hoping that the NDP can siphon away more swing progressives from the left.

The Liberals have a few paths to victory but the most likely is one that persuades OLP/NDP swing voters to back the Liberals to prevent a Hudak win.

For the NDP, they need to remind progressives of the mistakes of Liberal past while doing all they can to downplay the threat that Tim Hudak plays to the same voters.  If the NDP is not seen as the alternative to the Tories, strategic voting may prevent the NDP from growing beyond its 2011 support levels.

OntarioElection_Ballot2

Main Findings

  • Liberals and PCs tied among committed eligible voters (OLP 33%, PC 33%, NDP 26%)..
  • PCs have a small lead over the OLP among committed likely voters (PC 36%, OLP 33%, NDP 25%).
  • 14% of eligible voters are undecided.
  • Liberals lead in Toronto and Eastern Ontario (area codes starting with K).
  • PCs ahead in southwestern Ontario and slightly ahead in region surrounding Toronto (area codes starting with L).
  • NDP ahead in the North (postal codes starting with P).
  • Tories lead among those aged 60 and over, men, and those living in rural communities.
  • Liberals lead among 30 to 44 year olds and women.
  • NDP does best among those aged 18 to 29.
  • Voters more likely to have been contacted by OLP or PC campaigns than NDP campaign.
  • 71% of eligible voters have not been contacted by a campaign yet.

Methodology The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted online with 2,000 respondents who are eligible to vote in Ontario. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Ontarians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from May 14 to 16, 2014.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 1,672 committed voters of the same is +/- 2.4 %, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.

Likely voters were identified by creating a six-point scale based on seven questions about a respondents interest in politics, their intention to vote, whether they have voted already, and the attention they have paid to the election campaign.

What Canadians Think about the Fair Elections Act

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18% THINK CANADIAN ELECTIONS ARE UNFAIR
60% THINK FAIR ELECTIONS ACT WILL HAVE NO IMPACT ON ELECTIONS

A new national survey (March 19 to 23, 2014) shows that 18% of Canadians think elections in this country have been unfair, while more than twice as many think they have been fair (48%).  Among Conservative Party voters, 12% think Canadian elections are unfair.

Slide1

When asked if the rules that govern Canadian elections have “been working well or not” 43% say they have been working well, compared to 29% who say they have not been working well.  Among Conservative voters 54% say the rules have been working well, more than twice as many as say they opposite (21%).

Slide2

When asked if the proposed Fair Elections Act will change things for the better or for the worse, opinions are split, and uncertain.  Nineteen percent expect things to change for the better, 21% expect things to change for the worse, but the majority expect the Act will have no real effect.

Slide3

Finally, when asked whether the Fair Elections Act would improve election fairness, the results reflect mixed opinion and some indifference.  Eighteen percent (18%) expect more fairness, 23% less fairness, and 59% expect no impact.  While 2011 Conservative Party voters are more supportive of the bill, only 24% expect it to result in fairer elections, compared to 16% who expect less fair elections, and 60% no impact.

Slide4

Bruce Anderson comment:

“This bill has been controversial within the House of Commons and has generated criticism from many political scientists and editorialists.  To date, the public seems neither enthusiastic about the bill nor hostile towards it.

For the political capital the government is investing in the FEA, there is little apparent appreciation for the policy, even among the party’s base supporters.  At the same time, for the effort expended by opposition parties, so far, there is also little to show.  Most people don’t seem to feel this initiative was needed, and few think it will make much of a difference in how elections are conducted in Canada.”

David Coletto comment:

If you used the newspaper editorial pages or the #cdnpoli twitter feed as a barometer for public opinion you would think that Canadians are upset about the Fair Elections Act.  But that’s not the case.

Most Canadians don’t think there’s much wrong with how we conduct elections and they don’t think they the Fair Elections Act will do much to make them fairer.  Basically, the average Canadian’s assessment of the Fair Elections Act is that we have an ineffective bill that will solve a problem they don’t think exists.”

Download detailed tables

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted online with 1,164 respondents. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Canadians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from March 19 to 23, 2014

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.   The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.0%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806 or Bruce Anderson at banderson@abacusdata.ca.

ABOUT ABACUS DATA

Abacus Data is an innovative, fast growing public opinion and marketing research consultancy. We use the latest technology, sound science, and deep experience to generate top-flight research based advice to our clients.  We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and exceptional value.

Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD. For more information, visit our website at http://www.abacusdata.ca/

Free Trade and the Canadian Economy

The federal Conservatives have staked a lot of their reputation for sound economic stewardship on their determination to forge more trade ties with the rest of the world.  A new Abacus poll shows this agenda has a fair bit of public appeal.

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Canada-Korea Trade Agreement

By a healthy margin of 41% to 28% Canadians believe the new trade deal with Korea will be good rather than bad for the economy.  While voters in the west are most convinced of the merits, the plurality of voters in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, are all more likely to see upside than downside.

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This is one idea that can do more than just rally the Conservative base.  60% of Conservative voters see benefits, compared to only 19% who see downsides.  But Liberal voters are 41% optimistic and 27% pessimistic.  Even NDP voters are split with equal numbers saying this will be good for the economy (31%) as bad (32%)

Slide3

Canada-Europe Trade Agreement

Opinion is even more positive about the prospects of economic gains from the agreement negotiated with the EU.  Across the country, 58% expect it will be good rather than damaging (15%) to the economy.

Enthusiasm is pretty high across the country.  Support is least strong in Atlantic Canada, but even there 50% foresee benefits, while only 15% anticipate downsides.

Slide4

Support for CETA cuts across partisan lines.  While the split among Conservatives is 78% positive-10% negative, it is pretty strong among Liberal voters (56%-15%) and even among NDP voters (53%-21%).

Analysis by Bruce Anderson:

“Canadian public opinion on trade liberalization has evolved a lot since the 1988 election on the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement.  More and more Canadians have come to believe that the country can and in fact must succeed in a global marketplace and that trade agreements, far from having wrecked the Canadian economy, have provided it with more opportunities for success. What majority of these Canadians believe in is only true, as, since long, the trading has proved to boost the economy! Not only the economy of the country but, also, the economy of the individuals when they choose to embrace the trading procedure! Especially the recent popular cryptocurrency trading procedure, after understanding the basics to succeed in it!

While these debates can still be contentious, the burden of proof has clearly shifted: these days opponents need to make a more compelling case if they want to want the public to stand in the way of these deals.”

Analysis by David Coletto:

The trade deals being concluded by the Harper Government have broad support across the country.  A plurality of Canadians think the South Korean deal will be good for the Canadian economy and a majority believe the EU trade deal will have a positive impact on the economy.  While Ontarians seem to be more cautious and less optimistic about the South Korean deal but there is broad support west of Ontario.

Politically for the Harper Government, these trade deals are wins-wins: they are popular with the party’s base as well as with swing voters and those who would consider voting Liberal or Conservative.  Only the NDP faces a tough choice on the South Korea deal as half of its supporters favour it while half are opposed.”

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted online with 1,164 respondents. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Canadians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from March 19 to 23, 2014

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.   The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.0%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806 or Bruce Anderson at banderson@abacusdata.ca.

ABOUT ABACUS DATA

Abacus Data is an innovative, fast growing public opinion and marketing research consultancy. We use the latest technology, sound science, and deep experience to generate top-flight research based advice to our clients.  We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and exceptional value.

Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD. For more information, visit our website at http://www.abacusdata.ca/

Opinion Soft and Split on Income Splitting

There’s been much debate in Conservative circles about the merits of allowing income splitting as a way for some Canadians to see their tax burden reduced.

But what do Canadians know about and think about this idea?  Abacus Data asked some questions to size up current public opinion.

Who expects to benefit and by how much?

Off the top, only 16% think they will personally benefit significantly if tax policy is changed along the lines promised by the Conservatives in the last campaign. Another 24% see a “small benefit”, while the rest are unsure (9%) or expect to see no benefit (52%).

More likely to expect a significant benefit are those with incomes above $75,000 (23%) those in the 30-44 age bracket (23%) and parents of children under 15 (32%).

Support or Oppose Income Splitting?

A modest (57%) majority supports this idea, while 22% oppose it, and 20% are on the fence.  Support is higher than average in Ontario (62%) and Atlantic Canada (64%) and below average in Quebec (48%).

Support is 65% among Conservative Party supporters, 54% among Liberals and 55% among NDP supporters.  It is highest among parents of children under 15 (69%).

Is it one of the Better Ideas?

While few oppose the idea, when asked whether this is “one of the better ideas” for the government to consider “once a budget surplus is reached”, enthusiasm is more muted.  Given this context and question, 42% consider it one of the better ideas, 29% say it is not, and 30% are unsure.  Even among Conservative Party supporters, and parents, only 51% say it is one of the better choices that could be made.

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How about other choices for $2.7 billion?

Given a choice of three alternative ways of using the estimated $2.7 billion price tag for income splitting, only 23% prefer income splitting, 35% would rather see the money spent on priority programs and 41% would rather see the money used to pay down federal debt.

Among Conservative Party voters, twice as many would prefer to see debt paid down (50%) as would choose to go ahead with the income splitting tax change (26%).  Liberal (17%) and NDP (21%) supporters show less interest in income splitting: both are more likely to select spending or debt reduction.  Among parents with children under 15, 32% would choose income splitting, 35% spending on priorities, and 34% debt reduction.

Are Conservatives obliged to follow through with campaign commitment?

When reminded that the Conservatives had promised income splitting in 2011 and asked if that meant the government “must go ahead with this idea and keep their promise” or “choose whichever course they thing makes sense today”, opinion was evenly split: 41% said keep the promise, 42% choose what makes sense in today’s context.

Among those who voted Conservative in 2011, 46% say keep the promise, while 45% think flexibility is in order.  Among parents with kids under 15, 47% feel the government is obliged to keep the promise.

What about those who think they will benefit the most from income splitting?

Worth noting, is that among the 16% of Canadians who believe income splitting would be a significant benefit for them, only a bare majority (56%) would choose income splitting over the other $2.7 billion policy options offered. And  28% of them believe the government should choose whichever course they think makes most sense, rather than feel bound by their campaign promise.

Our Take

Bruce Anderson, Chairman of Abacus Data comments: 

“Since few people expect a significant personal benefit from income splitting, the Conservatives would face limited backlash if they choose to move away from this idea. 

Even though people naturally prefer lower taxes, not all that many seem terribly enthusiastic about this idea, especially when presented with some alternatives.  Reducing debt by $2.7 billion doesn’t have much of an excitement factor, yet twice as many seem to prefer it to this tax cut.

While marketing could stimulate more demand, these numbers may give pause to those Conservatives arguing the political necessity or upside of going ahead with this promise, and add fuel to the arguments of those who have been wondering about the merits of this move.”

David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data comments: 

“Although income splitting was a central tenant of the Conservative Party’s 2011 election platform, our data suggests the proposal is not an immediate winner with most Canadians or even a majority of those who voted Conservative 2011.

On the surface, most Canadians support the idea of income splitting, even when most of those who support it do not think they will immediately benefit from it.  But when presented with some alternatives, income splitting falls to third place behind more spending on priority areas or reducing public debt.

Parents with young children, both men and women, are most receptive to the proposal because they are most likely to benefit from it.  But even among this group, there’s no consensus that income splitting is the best way to spend $2.7 billion. 

The data does not offer a clear path for the Conservatives because the political price for not delivering on the campaign promise is muddled.  About half want the Conservatives to keep their pledge while half think it’s acceptable to change course if it makes sense to do so.  And it’s not even a sure winner among the party’s base, many of whom are older and have already benefited from pension income splitting. 

If the Conservatives keep their promise they give the opposition parties an opportunity to offer tax breaks or spending ideas that might excite more voters.  If they break their promise they risk upsetting some caucus members and party supporters who believe they should honour their campaign promises. “

Download detailed tables of the results

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,249 respondents by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Canadians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.   The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or Bruce Anderson at banderson@abacusdata.ca

About Abacus Data

Abacus Data is an innovative, fast growing public opinion and marketing research consultancy. We use the latest technology, sound science, and deep experience to generate top-flight research based advice to our clients.  We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and exceptional value.

Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD. For more information, visit our website at http://www.abacusdata.ca/

NL Liberals lead by 15 over PCs. Dunderdale’s resignation not improving PC fortunes yet.

According to a new VOCM-Abacus Data random telephone survey of 500 eligible voters in Newfoundland and Labrador, the NL Liberals hold a 15-point lead over the PC Party among committed voters (Liberal 49% vs. PC 34%) with the NDP well back in third at 15%.  The survey was conducted after the resignation of Premier and PC Party Leader Kathy Dunderdale on January 22, 2014.

Among all respondents, 22% said they were undecided while 2% said they would not vote.

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Liberals ahead in all regions of Newfoundland and Labrador

The Liberal Party leads in all regions of the province.  On the Avalon Peninsula and in St. John’s, the Liberals have a 14-point lead over the PCs among committed voters.  The Liberals have the support of 47% of committed voters compared to 33% for the PCs and 17% for the NDP.

In Eastern and Central Newfoundland, the Liberals lead by 16-points with 51% of committed voter support compared with 35% for the PCs and 13% for the NDP.

And in Western Newfoundland and Labrador, the Liberals lead by 15-points, with 49% of committed voters supporting the Liberals compared with 34% for the PCs and 15% for the NDP.

Only four in ten past PC supporters are currently supporting the PCs

When we compare current vote intention with how voters said they voted in the 2011 provincial election, the Progressive Conservative Party has the support of 41% of its former supporters.  Twenty-eight percent (28%) of former PC supporters now say they would vote Liberal while 24% said they are undecided.   Three percent of former PC supporters said they would now vote NDP.

Insights from Abacus Data

The resignation of Premier Dunderdale does not seem to have made much difference for PC Party support in the province.  The PCs still trail the Liberals by a wide margin provide-wide and in all regions of the province.  The Liberals lead among men and women and among all age groups and are well positioned.

However, the choice for the next PC leader will be critical.  The only silver lining in these numbers for the PCs is the fact that 24% of its former supporters are undecided.  This means that there is room for growth and the next leader has an opportunity to rebuild Tory support in the province.  If 80% of those former PC voters who are now undecided come back and vote PC, the Tories would be neck and neck with the Liberals.

The numbers also spell trouble for the NL NDP.  The NDP has lost more than half of its former support with 31% of former NDP supporters saying they will now vote Liberal and 13% voting PC.  Another 15% are undecided about their current vote preference.

Methodology

The random live-interview telephone survey commissioned by VOCM was conducted with 500 eligible voters living in Newfoundland and Labrador.  The survey was completed from January 27 to 30, 2014.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 500 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 4.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was statistically weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched population of Newfoundland and Labrador.  The tables within this report detail the weighted and unweighted counts for the sample.

Note the small sample sizes when reviewing results in subgroups.

Perceptions about the Canadian Economy and the Politics Behind It

According to a new national survey conducted from January 14 to 18, 2014 by public opinion firm Abacus Data, more Canadians describe the state of the Canadian economy as poor than they did in October 2013.  When asked how the three main federal political parties would do in managing Canada’s economy a majority of Canadians believed that all three would do at least an acceptable job with the Liberals having a slight advantage over the NDP and the Conservative s.

Perceptions about the Canadian Economy

Perceptions about Canada’s economy have softened since late October 2013.  Overall, 59% of Canadians describe the current state of Canada’s economy as very good (2%) or good (56%), down 9-points since October.  Forty-two percent, in contrast, describe Canada’s economy as either very poor (5%) or poor (37%), up 9-points since October.

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When asked about the future performance of the Canadian economy in the next six months, 23% of respondents believe things will get better while 19% think things will get worse while the majority (59%) of Canadians believe things will stay pretty much the same as they have been.

Of note, those who rate the current economy as good are also more likely to believe things will improve in the next six months while those with a more negative assessment of the current economy are more likely to think things will get worse.  Only 11% of those who rate the economy as poor/very poor believe things will improve in the next six months.

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Expected Performance on Managing the Economy

Respondents were also asked to rate how well they believed each party and leader would do at managing Canada’s economy.  While none of the three parties scored particularly well, none of them were perceived to do a poor or very poor job by a majority of respondents.

One in four respondents (24%) said that Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party would do an excellent or good job compared with 21% for Tom Mulcair and 27% for Justin Trudeau.

The difference between perception of the three leaders was most pronounced in the polarization of opinions towards the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party.  In contrast to the Liberals and NDP, respondents were more likely to perceive Harper and the Conservatives as doing a poor or very job managing the economy (40%).

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On the surface, the results suggest almost a stalemate between the three parties, with no one party having a significant advantage on the “managing the economy file.”  The data does show that the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party are perceived somewhat less favourably on the economy but most of those negative feelings come from Canadians who tell us they would not consider voting Conservative.

One of the things we are going to start doing in our political analysis (when the sample size allows us to) is to break the electorate up into seven distinct groups based on an individual voter’s proclivity to consider one or more of the three main political parties for their vote choice.

Early in our survey, we asked respondents whether they would consider voting for each of the three main political parties (Conservative, Liberal, and NDP) and based on the response to the three questions we created distinct voter groups.  These groups include those that would only consider voting Liberal, Conservative, or NDP, would consider voting for two of the main parties but not the third, those that would consider voting for all three main parties, and those that would not consider voting for any of the main parties.  We will also conduct a similar analysis within Quebec in the future.

In future posts on our website, we will profile each group in more detail, but for now, we think that Canadian politics and the behaviour of political leaders and the parties makes more sense if you view the political world in this way.

The next election will not be fought on a single battleground.

We think there are two broader groups to consider and small groups within each.

First, are those voters who would only consider voting for one political party.  These voters represent the base for each party and what matters here from a vote performance perspective is their motivation to vote and the size of the group.

The second broad group represents voters who would consider voting for more than one political parties.  They include (1) those who would consider all three parties (truly swing voters), (2) those who would only consider LPC or NDP (progressive non-partisans), (3) those who would only consider LPC or CPC (conservative non-partisans), and (4) those who would only consider the NDP or CPC (populists).

votergroups

When we assess perceptions about the ability of each party to manage the economy by these voter groups we find expected patterns.  Among those who would consider voting for all three parties, at least 72% believe that each party would do at least an acceptable  job managing the economy with the Liberals somewhat higher than the Tories and NDP.

Among the Conservative non-partisan group, the Conservatives and Liberals are perceived to be at least acceptable managers of the economy by at least 80% of respondents.  The NDP’s numbers are significantly weaker.  In fact, among Conservative non-partisan voters, only 5% believe the NDP would do an excellent or good job managing the economy.

Among those who would only consider voting NDP or Liberal (we call them progressive non-partisans), both the NDP and Liberals get good scores from almost all respondents.  The Conservatives, on the other hand, are less likely to be viewed as an acceptable economic manager to voters in this group.  In fact, only 9% of Progressive non-partisan voters consider the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party to be an excellent or good economic manager.

The final column in the table below reports results among those who said they would only consider voting for the Conservative Party.  Among the core base of the Conservative Party, 94% think that the Conservatives would do at least an acceptable job managing the economy while very few consider Mulcair or Trudeau to be acceptable economic managers.

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The point of this exercise is to first demonstrate that voters can view multiple parties and party leaders as acceptable or even good economic managers.  This has consequences for the role these opinions can play in affecting voter intention.  If voters, for example, in the Progressive non-partisan group view both Trudeau and Mulcair as equally able to manage the economy, then vote choice may come down to another factor such as leadership attributes, candidate selection, or another prominent issue.

Second, by looking at the electorate not as a single uniform group but as one made up of different groups of voters with different intentions and preferences, it becomes clear that just because more people view Stephen Harper and the Conservatives as poor economic managers than the other parties does not mean they cannot be re-elected in 2015.  However, the results demonstrate that they will need to work hard to convert almost all those who would consider voting Conservative to actually vote Conservative – especially when 12% of the electorate is open to voting either Conservative or Liberal.

Impact of Party Leader becoming Prime Minister after Next Election on the Economy

We also asked respondents to consider what effect electing each of the three leaders Prime Minister would have on the Canadian economy.  Similar to results to the earlier question, more respondents believed that the economy would likely weaken if Stephen Harper is re-elected as Prime Minister after the next election.  A third of respondents believed the economy would weaken while 17% believed it would improve.  Another 35% thought it would have no effect while 15% were not sure what the effect would be.

Tom Mulcair’s ratings were also more negative than positive (improve 18%, weaken 28%) but there was a much higher percent of respondents who said they were not sure what the effect of “Prime Minister Mulcair” would be on the economy.

Finally, respondents were more favourable to the impact of electing Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister on the economy, not surprising considering the Liberal Party’s current lead in vote intention.  One in four respondents believed things would improve under a Trudeau government compared to 25% who thought the economy would weaken.  Twenty-five percent were not sure what would happen.

Slide5

And once again, the devil is in the details.  When we break out perceptions across the four voter groups mentioned earlier, we find very substantial differences.  After computing a “net improvement score” by subtracting the percentage of respondents who said the economy would weaken from the percentage who said it would improve, we find expected patterns across the voting groups.

Among the pure swing voters (those that would consider all three parties), Trudeau’s impact on the economy if elected PM was most positive (+16) with Mulcair (-2) and Harper (-12) trailing.  Among conservative non-partisan voters, Harper’s score (+11) is slightly higher than Trudeau’s (+2) while Mulcair is well back with a net improvement score of -50.  Among those who would only consider voting for the NDP and Liberals, Trudeau (+39) has a sizeable lead over Mulcair (+18) with Harper well back at -47.  Finally, among those who would only consider voting Conservative, Harper get a high +55 while Mulcair and Trudeau’s scores were very negative (-61 and -64 respectively).

Slide6

The differences between these voter groups give us some insight into the opportunities and threats for each of the main parties as they set their strategy in the lead up to the next election.

What it Means for the Conservatives

For Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, the results demonstrate that the Conservative base clearly distinguishes between what a Harper Government and a Trudeau or Mulcair Government means for the Canadian economy.  The contrast between the leaders is stark and clear.  The objective for the Conservatives is to grow the gap between Harper and Trudeau on economic competence among non-partisan conservative voters and among those voters who say they would consider voting for all three parties.  For the Tories to win in 2015, they would need to turnout their base in high numbers (13% of the electorate), win at least 80% of the non-partisan conservative voters (12% of the electorate) and win at least 40% with voters open to voting for any of the three main parties (15% of the electorate).  At the same time, the Tories need to  avoid a situation where either the Liberals or the NDP are able to consolidate the progressive/anti-Conservative vote.

What it Means for the NDP

For Tom Mulcair and the NDP, the results in this study suggest that most Canadians do not consider the NDP as ineffective or incompetent economic managers.  This is a myth that does not hold in the evidence presented here.  However, Canadians don’t know what a federal NDP would perform having never experienced it.  So the unknown is still a liability.  The challenge for the NDP is positioning themselves as more competent on the economy than the Liberals while at the same time not scaring conservative non-partisan voters into the arms of the Trudeau Liberals.  It will be imperative for Mulcair to close the gap with Trudeau among progressive non-partisan voters which make up the largest voter group in the electorate at 22%.  If that is not possible, then the ballot question for the 2015 election will need to be something other than economic competence for voters in this group.  Right now, among these voters, Trudeau has a big advantage over Mulcair on economic competence which is helping to lift Liberal support far beyond the NDP.

What it Means for the Liberals

Finally, for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, the results suggest that despite media elite-level questions about Trudeau’s competence or capabilities to be Prime Minister, the strength of the Liberal brand and the goodwill that many Canadians have for Mr. Trudeau seem to be leading the day.  However, this could change, especially in the heat of an election campaign when voters will be paying far more attention to the leaders and assessing their competence as economic managers.  But for now, the evidence suggests that after a year of attacks from the NDP and Conservatives, Trudeau’s personal brand has been resilient.  Right now, Trudeau has the advantage among Progressive non-partisan voters, among those who would consider voting for all three parties, and is not far behind Harper among those who would consider voting Liberal or Conservative.  All together this helps explain why the Liberals have a six-point lead nationally among committed voters.

Some Final Thoughts

The federal budget that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will release on February 11 comes at a time when voter confidence in the state of the Canadian economy is softening.  More Canadians still rate the current economy as good than poor, but the trend since October 2013 is not a favourable one for the Conservative government.

For a government that has staked so much of its reputation and future success on how Canadians perceive it as sound economic managers, declining confidence and weak prospective economic evaluations is a discouraging sign.

However, the Conservatives are still regarded as good or acceptable economic managers by a majority of Canadians.  The base still sees Harper as much better option than either Trudeau or Mulcair.  The challenge with the 2014 budget and other economic policy to follow is, on the one hand, to continue to assure Canadians (or those Canadians that are within the Conservative universe) that all will be well and on the other, that the opposition leaders are lesser managers and stewards of the economic and a risky proposition.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,996 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a representative panel of Canadians.  The survey was completed from January 14 to 18, 2014.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated.   The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1,996 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. 

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

For more information about the poll’s methodology or the results, please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.