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Battleground Toronto Centre: Are Freeland and the Liberals really leading by 11?

Yesterday, Forum Research released the results of a survey of eligible voters in Toronto Centre along with the three other by-elections being held on November 25.

The survey found that Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland has an 11-point lead over NDP candidate Linda McQuaig with Freeland at 46% and McQuaig at 35%. Since Forum’s earlier survey, the Liberals are up one point while McQuaig is up five. This looks to be a safe seat for the Liberals.

I suggest we should take this poll with an especially large grain of salt.

First, I have mixed feelings about IVR surveys having used them during the 2012 Alberta election. I think those who answer automated surveys are different from the general population. But I haven’t done enough research to test their comparability with other methods but my experience tells me we should be cautious with the results, especially when we can’t assess how the data was weighted.

Second, conducting a survey in a riding like Toronto Centre is very difficult because it’s likely that much of the population do not have land lines. The population in the riding is much younger than the rest of Canada made up of students, young professionals, and low income residents who likely opt for a cell phone only instead of paying the extra $20-$30/month for a land line. The problem with this is how expensive it is to find those cell-only households in a small geographic location like Toronto Centre.

Polling firms cannot buy cell-phone sample with a geographic location attached to the telephone number. Therefore, if we want to find cell-only respondents in Toronto Centre, we would have to screen out residents by calling random 416/647 area codes. That’s a very expensive and time consuming process – so I think it’s fair to assume that the Forum Research poll only includes those with a land line and excludes those eligible voters who only have a cell phone.

In some ridings or regions of the country, excluding cell-only households is not a problem. In Nova Scotia for example, we did not include cell-phones in our sample because I felt it would not have improved our forecasting of that election.

But in Toronto Centre, I think if you exclude cell-only households, you are missing a large and important group of eligible voters.

Consider the demographics of the riding.

According to the 2011 Census, the age distribution of those 18 and over in Toronto Centre is:

18 to 34 = 38%
35 to 44 = 18%
45 to 54 = 17%
55 to 64 = 13%
65+ = 14%

This is a very “young” electoral district compared to others across the country. Nationally, Canada’s population by age 18 and over is:

18 to 34 = 28%
35 to 44 = 20%
45 to 54 = 20%
55 to 64 = 15%
65+ = 17%

Forum Research’s unweighted count by age group is:

18 to 34 = 7%
35 to 44 = 12%
45 to 54 = 19%
55 to 64 = 25%
65+ = 38%

Clearly, it’s sample is heavily biased towards older voters. Statistical weighting can help solve this problem. But since they don’t release their weighted counts, I can’t confidently recreate their weighting formula.

Re-weighting Forum’s Data by Age

If we weight their data according to the age distribution based on Census figures, I get the following vote intention:

NDP = 39.7%
Liberal = 39.3%
Conservative = 16.1%

This is a much closer race than the 46% to 35% reported in the Forum Poll’s release.

Now, this assumes that younger voters will make up the same proportion of the electorate as they do in the population of Toronto Centre. Evidence from the 2011 election turnout estimates by Elections Canada underlines why that is a bad assumption. It is highly unlikely that 38% of the electorate that votes in the by-election on November 25 will be made up of 18 to 34 year olds.

But what if turnout rates by age match those from the 2011 election? This all assumes of course that Forum’s vote preference estimates by age group are accurate as well considering that they do not likely include cell-phones in their sample.

If we weighted the Forum Poll results by estimated turnout by age from the 2011 election, the vote preference results are:

Liberal = 42%
NDP = 38%
CPC = 16%
GPC = 4%

If you’re wondering how I did this, you can see here.

What this means?

This is simply a statistical excerise that assumes that Forum’s vote preferences by age group are accurate, but our calculations suggest that the race in Toronto Centre could be closer than the Forum Poll suggests – that is if electorate that turns out to vote on November 25 or in the advanced polls more closely matches the age distribution in the electoral district. Lots of unknowns and the difficulty of measuring voter preferences in an urban, youthful electoral district, makes this riding still too close to call in my opinion.

Federal Politics: Conservatives and Liberals Tied; NDP down

According to a new national survey conducted before Senator Mike Duffy’s speech in the Senate by public opinion firm Abacus Data, the federal Liberal Party, and Conservative Party are tied nationally at 32% each among committed voters while the NDP is in third with the support of 23% of committed voters. The Green Party is at 7% while the Bloc Quebecois is at 5%.

Since our previous survey in September, the Liberal Party is up 3-points, the Conservative Party is up to two while the NDP is down four points among committed voters. This is the lowest we have had the NDP since the 2011 Federal Election.

Among all eligible voters (the full sample), 26% said they vote for the Liberal Party (up three since September) while 25% would vote Conservative (up two points) and 18% would vote NDP (down three points).

Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were undecided, down one point since September.

Slide1Slide2

Subgroup Analysis (Committed Voters)

In British Columbia, the poll found a close three-way race between the Liberals, NDP, and Conservatives (BC NDP 31%, LPC 30%, CPC 27%) while in Alberta, the Conservative Party has over a 30-point lead over the second place Liberal Party (AB: CPC 57%, LPC 24%, NDP 12%).

In Ontario, the Conservative Party has a small six-point lead over the Liberals (38% vs. 32%) , while the NDP is well back in third at 22%.

In Quebec, the Liberal Party now leads the NDP by eight with 34% of committed voters saying they would vote Liberal compared with 26% for the NDP. The BQ is at 19% while the Conservative Party is at 15%.

In Atlantic Canada, despite a small sample size, the Liberal Party has a large lead over the Conservative Party and the NDP.

Demographically, the Liberals lead by eight points among those with a university degree, while the Tories do best among those aged 60 and over (42% would vote Conservative).

Female voters are almost evenly split three ways between the Liberals (31%), the Conservatives (30%), and the NDP (27%), while male respondents were equally as likely to vote Liberal or Conservative (34% respectively) than the NDP (19%).

Respondents were also asked to place themselves in one of five social classes. The vote intention results by self-identified social class are displayed in the table below:

When we consider that 92% of committed voters consider themselves to be in the middle class (ranging from lower middle to upper middle) it’s no wonder that all the federal party leaders talk a lot about and to these voters.

But none of the parties have a large advantage among the different types of “middle class” voters. Among those who consider themselves “lower middle class” the Liberals, Tories, and NDP are tied with each getting the support of about three in ten committed lower middle class voters. Among the 50% who place themselves squarely in the middle class category, the Liberals and Tories are tied with about one in three supporting either party with another 21% supporting the NDP. Among those who see themselves as upper middle class, the results are similar with the Liberals and Tories tied at 35% with the NDP well back at 17%.

When we compare vote intention across household income we see somewhat different results than with the self-identified class question.

The Liberal Party leads or is tied for the lead with every income group except for those who live in households that make between $75,000 to $100,000. The NDP does best interestingly among those who live in households that make less than $35,000 per year and those in the $75,000 to $100,000 income group. The Tories perform best with respondents whose household income is $50,000 or more earning the support of at least 34% of respondents in those groups.

The results indicate two things: (1) that most Canadians self-identify as middle class and (2) neither party has an advantage among these voters but that appealing to these voters and connecting with them could mean significant political benefit.

Best Prime Minister

Along with vote intention, we also asked respondents which party leader they believed would make the best Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper were statistically tied with 26% of respondents choosing Trudeau and 24% choosing Harper. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was a distant third with 12% picking him as the individual who would make the best Prime Minister.

Slide3

Interestingly, among those who voted NDP in 2011, 34% picked Trudeau as best Prime Minister compared with 24% who picked Tom Mulcair. Another 32% of 2011 NDP voters were unsure which leader would make the best Prime Minister.

Among those who voted Conservative in 2011, 62% believed Stephen Harper would make the best Prime Minister followed by 15% who picked Justin Trudeau and 2% who picked Tom Mulcair.

Among respondents who voted Liberal in 2011, 56% picked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as best Prime Minister followed by Tom Mulcair at 7% and Stephen Harper at 6%. Twenty-seven percent of 2011 Liberal Party voters were unsure which leader would make the best Prime Minister.

Federal Party Leader Impressions

When asked for their overall impressions of the three main party leaders, the only real change was with Tom Mulcair. The percentage of respondents with a positive impression of Tom Mulcair dropped by eight points since June 2013 from 34% to 26%, the last time we reported on these numbers.

Justin Trudeau remains the most popular leader in Canada with 39% of respondents saying they have a favourable impression of the Liberal Leader (down one point since June). Trudeau’s unfavourable numbers are also down slightly to 24%, from 26% in June.

Slide4

Prime Minister Harper’s numbers have not moved much at all since June. Twenty nine percent of Canadians have a positive impression of him while 46% have an unfavourable impression. Only 22% of Canadians say they have a neutral impression of the Prime Minister.

Bottom Line

This poll was conducted after the federal government’s Speech from the Throne but before Senator Mike Duffy’s speech defending himself in the Senate. Therefore, it cannot capture any impact of Senator Duffy’s allegations and the political fallout of the Senate expense scandal.

That being said though, the results can be used as a benchmark of federal party support right before the drama that took place in the Senate over the past few days.

Support for the federal Conservative Party and Liberal Party is up slightly in our survey while NDP support is down.

Trudeau remains the most popular leader in the country and is tied with Stephen Harper on who would make the best Prime Minister while NDP Leader Tom Mulcair continues his struggle to gain traction with Canadians outside of Quebec.

These results are particularly troublesome for the NDP. It’s the lowest NDP support in our polls since the May 2011 election. The party is a distant third in vote rich Ontario, is now second to the Liberal Party in Quebec. The NDP remains competitive in British Columbia but has to contend with a revived Liberal Party in Canada’s westernmost province.

In Quebec, Mulcair is viewed positively by 45% of eligible voters. But outside of his home province, his favourable rating barely gets above 20% in important battlegrounds like Ontario (20%), BC (22%) and in Atlantic Canada (18%). Most Canadians in these provinces or regions have a largely neutral impression or don’t know much about the NDP leader.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,459 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 October 18 to 22, 2013.

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 1,459 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.6%, 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, education level, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.

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.

Day 2: Sun News/Abacus NS Election Tracking Poll – Liberals lead by 19

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According to a provincial survey of eligible voters in Nova Scotia, the NS Liberal Party leads the NDP by 19 points among committed and leaning voters.

Overall, 32% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party, followed by the NDP at 18%, the PCs at 14%, and the Green Party at 0.4%. Thirty-two percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided while 5% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for. All observed changes are inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 48%, followed by the NDP at 29%, and the PCs at 22%. The Green Party received 1% of the vote. Compared with yesterday’s poll, the observed change is marginal and inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among all eligible voters surveyed, 11% said they have already voted in the election.

Nova Scotia Election Outlook

Today’s results are very similar to those reported yesterday. There have been small marginal shifts in vote intention, leader evaluations, and top issue.

The Liberal Party remains well positioned in the Nova Scotia provincial election. Among all committed voters, it leads the NDP by 19 percentage points, has the most popular leader, and is considered best able to manage the economic situation in Nova Scotia.Indeed, economy is the main factor that decides the development of a country! While the idea of being a good citizen and participating in the electoral programs to choose the best leader for the country is appreciated, you should also choose your own ways to improve your economy! If you are eager to know such ways then, why not check here?

Not only does the Liberal Party lead province-wide up it has large leads over the other parties on Cape Breton, in the Northern region of the province, and in the Annapolis Valley / South Shore region. In the HRM, Liberals also have a small lead over the NDP.

The Liberals also lead among other subgroups including men, women, all age groups, and levels of education.

Provincial Vote Intention

Overall, 31% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party, followed by the NDP at 18%, the PCs at 14%, and the Green Party at 0.4%. Thirty-two percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided while 5% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for. All observed changes are inside the margin of error for the survey.

Slide2

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 48%, followed by the NDP at 29%, and the PCs at 22%. The Green Party received 1% of the vote. Compared with yesterday’s poll, the observed change is marginal and inside the margin of error for the survey.

Slide1

Subgroup Analysis

Regionally, the NS Liberals are strongest outside of Halifax, where they hold a majority of support in the North (54%) and the South Shore/Annapolis Valley (55%). With three days of interviews our confidence in the regional numbers is significantly improved.

The race in Halifax Regional Municipality is much closer with the Liberals barely edging the NDP 42% to 35%.

Support for the Nova Scotia Liberals remained strong across demographic groups, where the party showed strong, double-digit leads over the second and third-place NDP and Conservatives in all age groups and among both males and females.

Of particular note is the shift in support from the 2009 provincial election. While the Liberal party has managed to retain about nine in ten voters from 2009, only 49% of those who voted NDP in the previous provincial election indicated that they would support the party again this time with the bulk of switchers now voting for the Liberal Party. If the NDP hopes to stage a comeback in the next five days of the campaign, it must reconnect with past voters and convince them that they deserve to be re-elected.

Does Dexter Deserve Re-Election?

Along with his party, Dexter’s personal base of support has shifted away from him. Overall, 62% of Nova Scotians feel that it’s time for a change (down 3 points since yesterday), while just 23% said that Dexter deserves to be re-elected (up 3 points), and 15% were unsure.

Significantly, almost a majority (49%) of those who voted NDP in the 2009 provincial election felt that Dexter has outlived his time in office, with 43% stating he deserves to be re-elected.

Even in Halifax, where NDP support is strongest, only 28% of eligible voters in the region think the NDP and Darrell Dexter deserve to be re-elected.

Top Issue and Best Party to Manage Issue

Jobs and the economy, health care, education and taxes remain the most important issues facing Nova Scotia according to eligible voters in Nova Scotia.

Slide3

Among those with an opinion about which party was able to handle the four top issues, the Liberal Party was most likely to be selected as best able to handle the issue.

Of the 35% of eligible voters who mentioned the economy or jobs, 26% believed the Liberal Party was best able to deal with the issue followed by the NDP (22%) and the PC Party (16%). Overall, 36% of eligible voters were not sure which party would be best on the issue. While the economy is the single most important issue in the campaign, none of the parties have a significant advantage among those who care the most about the issue to mention it unprompted in our survey.

Among the one in four Nova Scotians that selected health care as their top issue, the Liberal Party was chosen as best to handle the issue by 27% followed by the NDP at 18%, the PC Party at 10% while 45% of those who believed health care was the top issue were unsure which party was best.

The Liberal Party also had an advantage among those who believed education, taxes, and electricity rates were the top issues facing Nova Scotia.

It is clear that on issue positioning, the Liberals have an advantage on most of the key issues. Neither the NDP nor the PC Party have a clear issue advantage on any issue of prominence for eligible voters.

Most Trusted on the Economy

When all respondents were asked specifically which party they believed would be able to handle the economic situation in Nova Scotia best, 31% of eligible voters elected the Liberal Party, followed by 19% who selected the NDP Party and 16% who selected the PCs. Twenty-six percent of respondents were unsure.

These numbers are largely unchanged from yesterday’s poll.

Best Premier

Overall, virtually no statistically significant changes were observed between October 1st and 2nd regarding who Nova Scotians think would make the best Premier. When respondents were asked which party leader they believed would make the best Premier, the results again mirrored the vote intention question. Thirty-two percent of respondents selected Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil while 21% selected incumbent Premier and NDP Leader Darrell Dexter. PC Leader Jamie Baillie was third at 15% among all eligible voters. However, uncertainty remained consistently above 30%.

Slide4

Overall Party Leader Impressions

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil is not only the leader most likely to be selected as “Best Premier” but he is also the most popular party leader in Nova Scotia. A majority of eligible voters (53%) had a positive impression of the Stephen McNeil compared with only 22% who had a negative impression.

Just over one in three eligible voters in Nova Scotia (37%) had a positive impression of incumbent NDP Leader Darrell Dexter while 44% had a negative impression.

Slide5

Likely Election Winner

Finally, respondents were asked which political party they believed would ultimately win the Nova Scotia provincial election. A majority of voters (52%) believed that the Liberal Party will win the election, while only 12% felt the NDP will win.

However, on October 1st, 32% of NDP supporters felt the Liberals would win the election; today’s tracking showed that support shift back. On October 2nd, 22% of NDP supporters felt the Liberals will win, with 57% feeling the NDP will hold on to leadership.

Although not reflected in the overall figures, this change may signal an internal change in confidence amongst NDP supporters and could have an impact on voter turnout.

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted September 30 to October 2, 2013 among a provincial sample of 700 eligible voters in Nova Scotia. Interviews were conducted in English and 6,116 telephone numbers were dialed. Each evening up to and including Sunday October 6 (except for Friday evening), 200 to 250 interviews will be conducted with a random sample of eligible voters in Nova Scotia. The results of the poll will be released on Battleground with David Akin on the Sun News Network each evening at 7pm AT / 6pm ET.

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 was statistically weighted according to the 2011 Census according to age, region, gender, and education. The margin of error for this survey is + 3.8%, 19 times out of 20. Note, the margin of error in subgroups with small sample sizes is much larger.

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network. 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.

Final Poll – Sun News/Abacus Data NS Election Tracking Poll – Liberals lead by 19; Close Race for 2nd Final Poll – Sun News/Abacus Data NS Election Tracking Poll – Liberals lead by 19; Close Race for 2nd

The final Sun News/Abacus Data poll of the 2013 Nova Scotia election finds that the Liberal Party well positioned to win on Tuesday October 8 while the NDP and Progressive Conservative Party are in a fight for second place.

Overall, 29% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party (down 2), followed by the PC Party at 18% (up 2), the NDP at 15% (down 4), and the Green Party at 1%.  Twenty-five percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided (down 1) while 11% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for.  All observed changes are inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 46% (unchanged), followed by the PC Party at 28% (up 3) and the NDP at 24% (down 4).  The Green Party received 1% of the vote.  Compared with yesterday’s poll, the observed change is marginal and inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among likely voters, the Liberal Party continues to lead with 46% among committed likely voters followed by the PCs at 27% and the NDP at 26%.

20% of eligible voters surveyed said they had already voted in the election.

Nova Scotia Election Outlook

Our final tracking poll finds that Liberal Party has a comfortable lead among committed and likely voters and is likely going to win the Nova Scotia election if voter preferences do not change dramatically over the next 24 hours.

The real fight in the election is for second place.  Our latest numbers have the PC Party with a marginal lead over the NDP for second (28% vs. 24%) but tied among those most likely to vote.  Keeping in mind the margin of error for the survey, we are unable to forecast which party will the second most number of voters.

As always, the final results will depend on turnout and our polling cannot anticipate whether the NDP, PC Party, or Liberal Party will have a better Get Out The Vote operation. 

Provincial Vote Intention

Overall, 29% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party (down 2), followed by the PC Party at 18% (up 2), the NDP at 15% (down 4), and the Green Party at 1%.  Twenty-five percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided (down 1) while 11% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for.  All observed changes are inside the margin of error for the survey.

votens

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 46% (unchanged), followed by the PC Party at 28% (up 3) and the NDP at 24% (down 4).  The Green Party received 1% of the vote.  Compared with yesterday’s poll, the observed change is marginal and inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among likely voters, the Liberal Party continues to lead with 46% among committed likely voters followed by the PCs at 27% and the NDP at 26%.

Subgroup Analysis

Regionally, the NS Liberal continue to be strongest in the North and South Shore/Annapolis Valley  while running neck and neck with the Tories on Cape Breton.  In Halifax, the Liberals have a 12-point lead over the NDP.

The  Liberal Party continues to lead among all demographic groups but the race has tightened somewhat among those aged 60 and over.

Among committed voters who voted NDP in 2009, 49% say they will vote NDP while  35% plan to vote Liberal.  Among all previous NDP voters, 10% are still undecided.

Does Dexter Deserve Re-Election?

A considerable majority of eligible voters in Nova Scotia continue to believe it is time for a change in the province while less the one in four eligible voters (22%) believe Darrell Dexter and the NDP deserve to be re-elected.

We have seen very little change in these numbers over the last five  days of polling.

Top Issue and Best Party to Manage Issue

Jobs and the economy, health care, education and taxes remain the most important issues facing Nova Scotia according to eligible voters in Nova Scotia.   These numbers have not changed much  throughout the final week of the campaign except for health care which has increased by five points since the start of our tracking.

None of the three main parties have a clear advantage on the top two issues that voters care the most about.  Among those who identified either the economy or health care as their top issue, none of the parties have a substantial advantage when respondents are asked which party is best at dealing with the issue.But, you don’t be so indecisive when it comes to choosing the best way that could improve your economy! Yes, as the universally favored Forex trading procedure using the sophisticated Tesler App platform is readily available now, to boost your financial position, which is undoubtedly the best way for you and everyone!

Slide2

When we look at all respondents and at all issues identified, we find that the Liberal Party has a slight advantage on issue position with 22% of all eligible voters saying the Liberal Party is best to handle the issue they care most about followed by the NDP 18% and the PC Party 16%.  A full 43% of respondents did not know which party could best handle the issue they cared most about.

Most Trusted on the Economy

While the Liberal Party has lost its advantage among those who believe jobs and the economy are the top issues facing the province, the party still has a substantial lead among all eligible voters when they are asked which party they believe would be best able to handle the economic situation in Nova Scotia best.   Thirty-two percent of eligible voters selected the Liberal Party, followed by 18% who selected the NDP and 17% who selected the PC Party.  Twenty-three percent of respondents were unsure.

Best Premier

There was little change in perceptions about which party leader would make the best premier.

When respondents were asked which party leader they believed would make the best Premier, the results again mirrored the vote intention question.  Thirty-one percent of respondents selected Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil while 19% selected incumbent Premier and NDP Leader Darrell Dexter.  PC Leader Jamie Baillie was third at 18% among all eligible voters while 31% were unsure.

Slide3

Overall Party Leader Impressions

When it comes to overall impressions of the main party leaders in Nova Scotia, our tracking finds that Stephen McNeil’s personal numbers have not changed at all and he remains the most popular leader in the province..  A slight majority still have a positive impression of the Liberal Leader.

PC Leader Jamie Baillie’s personal numbers have not changed over the weekend with 41% of eligible voters having a favourable impression of the PC Leader while 33% have a negative impression.

Darrell Dexter remains a polarizing figure with 37% of eligible voters having a positive impression of the NDP leader while 47% have a negative impression.

Slide4

Likely Election Winner

Finally, respondents were asked which political party they believed would ultimately win the Nova Scotia provincial election.  A majority of voters continue to believe (59%) that the Liberal Party will win the election, up four points since Friday’s release, while only 12% felt the NDP will win.

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted October 3 to October 6, 2013 among a provincial sample of 600 eligible voters in Nova Scotia.  Interviews were conducted in English and 5,380 telephone numbers were dialed.   The results of the poll will be released on Battleground with David Akin on the Sun News Network each evening at 7pm AT / 6pm ET.

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 was statistically weighted according to the 2011 Census according to age, region, gender, and education.  The margin of error for this survey is + 4.1%, 19 times out of 20.  Note, the margin of error in subgroups with small sample sizes is much larger.

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network.  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.

Canadians and the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement

Canada-EU Free Trade: Half aware of the talks; Most think it will have a positive impact on the Canadian economy

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According to a new survey from Abacus Data, less than one in two Canadians (48%) were aware that Canada and the European Union were currently in negotiations over a free trade agreement between the two jurisdictions. Despite the low awareness levels, a majority of Canadians believed that a Canada-EU free trade deal would have a positive effect on the Canadian economy.

“If the Canada-EU trade deal is going to be a centre piece of the federal government’s economic action plan, the government really needs to communicate its intentions better with the public,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto. “While most Canadians think a Canada-EU trade deal will mean good things for the Canadian economy, half of the country doesn’t even know the talks are happening.”

Awareness of Free Trade Talks

Overall there was low awareness among Canadian respondents of free trade agreement talks with the European Union. Over half (52%) of Canadians said that they were unaware of the government’s trade discussions with the EU. Fewer, forty-eight per cent (48%) said that they were aware of trade talks before completing the survey.

There was little regional distinction when it comes to awareness of the trade deal but interestingly, Conservative Party supporters were less likely to be aware of the trade talks than NDP or Liberal Party supporters.

It is no surprise that the politically disengaged are less likely to be aware of political issues such as free trade talks with Europe.

Among young people, aged 18 to 29, awareness was much lower than that of older Canadians (only 36% compared with 60% among those aged 60 and over).

Impact of Free Trade with the European Union on the Canadian Economy

Overall, a majority of Canadians (55%) believed that a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union would have a positive impact on the Canadian economy. However, only 11% believed it would have a “very” positive impact indicating that opinions are likely soft and the positive reaction to “free trade with Europe” is a result of the default pro-trade position of most Canadians.

Very few Canadians (11%) believed that a free trade deal with Europe would have a negative effect on the Canadian economy.

Those who were aware of trade talks were more likely to believe a free trade agreement with the EU have a positive impact on the Canadian economy. Those who were unaware were more likely to say that they are unsure about whether this would be good for the economy or not.

Given low awareness of the issue, there is room for influence in opinions about whether this would be a good or bad influence on the Canadian economy. Those with low levels of awareness who are civically disengaged are particularly open to influence on this issue.

Issue Negotiations

Respondents were asked for their opinion about two contentious aspects of a deal rumoured to be included such as whether or not our government should allow European companies to bid on large infrastructure projects and on whether or not we should allow free imports from European dairy producers. Overall, there some disagreement among Canadians on both issues.

When it comes to allowing European dairy producers to sell more of their products, like cheese, in Canada, forty-six per cent (46%) either somewhat or strongly supported this proposal. A little less than one third (31%) of Canadians say they were opposed to the idea of increased access for European dairy producers.

Opposition to allowing more access for European dairy producers was highest among those living in rural communities (42%), in Quebec (37%), and among NDP supporters (36%).

There was greater opposition to the idea of allowing European companies to bid on contracts for large infrastructure projects in Canada.

Forty-two per cent (42%) said they were opposed to the idea allowing European competition on large Canadian infrastructure projects while one in three (33%) said they support allowing competition. The remainder of Canadian respondents (26%) said they would neither support nor oppose competition on Canadian infrastructure projects.

Opposition to this proposal was greatest among rural respondents (55%) and those over the age of 60 (56%).

Bottom Line

The Harper Government has made a free trade deal between Canada and the European Union a centrepiece of its Economic Action Plan. But less than half of Canadians are even aware that a deal is being negotiated.

There is both good and bad news for the federal government in these numbers.

The good news is that most Canadians reactive positively to a free trade deal with the EU in principal. A majority believe it will have a positive impact on the Canadian economy and very few believe it will have a negative impact.

The bad news is that the devil is always in the details. Many Canadians would oppose parts of a deal that include allowing European construction companies to bid on infrastructure projects in Canada while Canadians living in rural communities are opposed to allowing greater access to the Canadian market for European dairy producers.

If a deal is signed, communicating the benefits of the deal will be critical. Canada is a trading nation and in general, Canadians respond positively to free trade. But explaining the more complicated and controversial aspects of a final deal will be important especially with a key part of the Conservative coalition – rural Canada.

Electricity Generation in Canada: Public Perceptions

As part of my presentation to the Ontario Energy Association’s ENERGYCONFERENCE13, I asked Canadians about their views on different sources of electricity. At the conference, I released the results for Ontarians only but I wanted to share what Canadians across the country think about different sources of electricity and how they compare across region, education level, and political support.

In this post, I report on two questions we asked: (1) overall impressions of different ways to generate electricity and (2) perceptions about how their province generates electricity.

Generally speaking, Canadians have a pretty good understanding of where their electricity comes from. On average, respondents estimated that 43% of electricity generated in Canada comes from hydroelectric compared with 20% from natural gas and 13% from nuclear.

When asked about the different sources of electricity, a large majority of Canadians have a positive impression of hydroelectric, solar, wind, and natural gas generation. Impressions were more mixed when it comes to nuclear power and only a small minority of Canadians have anything good to say about coal powered electricity generation.

Hydroelectric Power

Canadians love hydroelectric power and Canadians from across Canada agree on that. Nationally, 77% of respondents to our survey said they have a positive impression of hydroelectric power compared with only 4% who had a negative impression. When asked to rank seven sources of electricity from most to least environmentally friendly, 28% of respondents ranked hydro first or second and only 7% ranked it as 1st or 2nd most harmful to health and safety.

Hydro power is perceived to be clean, safe, but not as cheap as other sources of electricity. Canadians recognize the importance of hydroelectric power to Canada’s economy and energy mix and generally have positive feelings about it. You can’t go wrong with hydroelectric power.

Slide8Slide9

Wind Power

Nationally, 79% of Canadians have a positive impression of wind energy compared with 8% who have a negative impression. Wind powered electricity has seen its share of controversy in Canada’s largest province. While wind energy is viewed positively by almost all respondents in Atlantic and Western Canada and in Quebec, it’s reputation is somewhat weaker in Ontario at 70%, nine points lower than the national average.

When asked to compare wind energy to other sources of electricity, 69% of Canadians rank wind energy as 1st or 2nd when it comes to environmentally friendliness, and only 12% ranked it in the top 1 or 2 in terms of its negative impacts on health and safety. Like hydro power, wind energy is perceived to be clean, but a large proportion of Canadians (28%) rank it as the 1st or 2nd most expensive source of electricity.

Slide6 Slide7

Natural Gas Powered

Natural gas is the carbon-based fuel that gets a lot of love from Canadians. Overall, two thirds of Canadians have a positive impression of natural gas compared with 7% who have a negative impression. There is little variation in opinion across the country with Albertans being somewhat more likely to have a positive impression of the fuel source than other Canadians (Alberta 79% positive vs. Canada 67%).

Natural gas is perceived to be environmentally unfriendly or unsafe as less than one in five Canadians ranked it as least or 2nd least in terms of safety or environmentally friendliness.

Slide4 Slide5

Nuclear Power

Unlike the three electricity sources above, nuclear power’s reputation in Canada is far less positive. Only 25% of Canadians have a positive impression of nuclear power while 48% have a negative impression. Outside of Ontario (where it is most popular at 41%), nuclear has a weak impression with less than one in five Canadians living in BC, Alberta, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada saying they have a positive impression of nuclear.

Compared with other electricity sources, nuclear power is ranked as least or 2nd least environmentally friendly by 63% of Canadians and 69% rank it as most or 2nd most harmful to human health and safety. Along with views that its not clean or safe, 50% of Canadians believe that nuclear is either the most or 2nd most expensive way to generate electricity.

Slide2 Slide3

Coal Powered

Coal is viewed most negatively by Canadians. Only 12% of Canadians have a positive impression of coal powered electricity generation while 61% have a negative impression.

Over seven in ten Canadians (72%) rank coal as either least or 2nd least environmentally friendly and two thirds rank its as most or 2nd most harmful to human health and safety. It is also considered most or 2nd most expensive among 21% of Canadians. There is no region in the country that has a positive impression of coal powered electricity generation.

Slide1

Perceptions about Canada’s Electricity Mix

In an effort to understand what Canadians know about Canada’s electricity mix, we asked respondents to estimate what percentage of their province’s electricity is generated from seven possible sources of electricity. Respondents were free to enter any number ranging from 0 to 100 for each source with a total that must add up to 100.

On average, Canadians estimated that 43% of their provinces energy was generated from hydro, 20-points lower than the actual percentage as reported by the Canadian Electricity Association. Natural gas was second at 20% followed by nuclear power at 13%. Canadians have a pretty good understanding of where their electricity comes from – except when it comes to renewable energy.

Across the country, respondents overestimated the importance of renewable sources of electricity such as wind, solar, and biomass, and underestimated the importance of another renewable source hydro power.

This is especially true in Ontario where all the discussion about the province’s Green Energy Act has likely caused perceptions about Ontario’s energy mix to seem more “renewable” and “green” than it really is.

Slide10

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,600 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 Aug 30 to Sept 4, 2013.

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 1,600 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.5%, 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, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.

BC Election: BC NDP leads by 10; Dix and Clark near even in personal popularity

According to the Sun News/Abacus Data provincial survey of eligible voters in British Columbia, the BC NDP leads the BC Liberals by 10 points among decided and leaning voters. The BC NDP has the support of 43% of decided voters followed by the BC Liberals at 33%, the BC Greens at 12%, and the BC Conservatives at 9%.

Among all respondents, 12% said they were undecided even after being asked if they are leaning towards one party.

Download detailed tables

Provincial Vote Intention

Regionally, the BC NDP is strongest on Vancouver Island (57%) where it leads the BC Greens by 33 points and the BC Liberals by 43 points.

In Greater and Metro Vancouver, the race is much closer with the NDP only marginally ahead of the BC Liberals (40% BC NDP vs. 37% BC Liberals).

Demographically, the BC NDP leads among all subgroups include men (NDP 39%, Lib 35%), women (NDP 47%, Lib 31%), those aged 18 to 29 (NDP 39%, Lib 34%) and aged 30 to 44 (NDP 43%, Lib 29%). However, the two main parties are closer among those aged 60 and over (NDP 44%, Lib 41%).

“A silver lining for the BC Liberals is that they are competitive where most of the seats are (Greater Vancouver) and among more reliable voters (those 60 and over),” said Abacus CEO David Coletto.

“With only a slight increase in popular support since 2009, this election is less about a popular NDP than it is about a less popular BC Liberal Party,” said Coletto.

The table above reports how current vote intentions compare with voter behaviour in the 2009 provincial election. For example, among current NDP supporters, 67% voted NDP in 2009 while 14% voted for the BC Liberals and 3% voted Green.

Among current BC Conservative supporters, only 9% of its current supporters voted for the party in 2009. Almost a majority of its current supporters voted for the BC Liberals in 2009 while another 33% said they did not vote or can’t remember how they voted.

2009vstoday

This demonstrates the impact of a stronger BC Conservative Party on the electoral prospects of the BC Liberals.

However, even if half of the BC Conservative/BC Liberal switchers returned back to the BC Liberals, the Liberals would still be seven points behind the NDP.

To win, the Liberals need to bring past supporters who have left to support both the NDP and Conservatives. Only if they accomplish this can they compete with the larger NDP supporter pool.

Federal vs. Provincial Politics

The survey also asked respondents how they voted in the 2011 federal election. The table below reports the composition of current provincial support by voting behaviour in the 2011 federal election.

What the data demonstrates is that all four provincial parties are coalitions of different federal voters but that current BC Liberal supporters are the most diverse.

Among those respondents who said they would vote BC Liberal, 55% voted for the federal Conservatives in 2011 while 33% voted for the federal Liberals. Only 3% cast a ballot for Jack Layton and the federal NDP.

In contrast, the BC NDP is made up primarily of federal NDP voters (61%) but also has the support federal Conservatives (14%) and federal Liberals (13%),

fedvsprov

BC Conservative support is less diverse in terms of federal party voters with almost three in four BC Conservative supporters saying they voted for the federal Conservative Party in 2011 with another 16% saying they voted Liberal.

“When you look at how federal party supporters are voting in the provincial election, it makes sense why Tom Mulcair is in the game but Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau are staying away,” said Coletto.

“Whereas 87% of federal NDP supporters are going to vote for the BC NDP, federal Tories and Liberals are split between the BC Liberals (CPC 51%, LPC 52%), BC NDP (CPC 17%, LPC 29%), and BC Conservatives(CPC 18%, LPC 6%). If Harper and Trudeau were to back the provincial party that a majority of their supporters are, they would both be campaigning for Christy Clark. That would make for some awkward moments on the campaign bus.”

Accessible Voter Polls

Another challenge for the BC Liberals is that are playing in a smaller voter pool compared with the NDP.

When respondents were asked if they would consider or not consider voting for each of the main political parties in British Columbia, the BC NDP had the largest pool of accessible voters.

Fifty percent of respondents said they would consider voting for the BC NDP, compared with 41% for the BC Liberals, 34% for the BC Greens, and 27% for the BC Conservatives.

“The BC NDP not only leads among decided voters, but they also have the largest pool of voters who would consider voting NDP,” said Coletto. “The BC Liberals can still win the election but they will need to convince all those voters who would consider voting for them to actually turn out and cast a ballot. That’s a tough, but not impossible, mission two weeks out from election day.”

When we compare voter conversion rates (% of respondents indicating they will vote for a party divided by the % of respondents who would consider voting for a party) we find that the BC NDP has the highest conversion rate (76%), followed by the BC Liberals (71%), and the BC Conservatives (35%).

“The smaller parties like the Greens and Conservatives are facing a highly polarized election meaning unless one of the two main parties make a big mistake, it will be difficult to grow their support in the next two weeks of the election,” said Coletto.

Direction of the Province

British Columbians are split on whether they think the province is headed in the right direction or off on the wrong track.

One in three respondents (33%) believed that the province is headed in the right direction while 37% believe it is headed on the wrong track. Another 30% were unsure.

Most worrisome for the BC Liberals is that only 55% of those who voted BC Liberal in 2009 believed that the province was headed in the right direction. Another 24% believed it was headed on the wrong track while 21% were unsure.

Provincial Party Leader Favourability

Turning to the four main political party leaders, the Sun News/Abacus Data poll found that none of the four leaders are particularly popular in British Columbia.

Respondents were asked to rate their overall impression of the leaders on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means they really dislike the individual and 10 means they really like the leader.

Overall, none of the four leaders had a net positive rating (more people viewed them positively than negatively). In fact, no leader was viewed positively by more than a quarter of respondents.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix was viewed positively by 23% of respondents compared with 24% who had a positive impression of Liberal Leader Christy Clark. Conservative Leader John Cummins had a favourable rating with only six percent of respondents while 14% held the same positive views of Green Leader Jane Sterk.

While Adrian Dix and Christy Clark were about equal when it came to positive impressions, fewer respondents viewed Adrian Dix negatively when compared with his rival Christy Clark. Thirty-five percent of respondents had a negative impression of Adrian Dix while 42% had a negative impression of Christy Clark, a seven-point difference.

dixvclark

“If Adrian Dix becomes Premier this spring it is not because British Columbians love the guy,” said Coletto. “He is not more popular than Christy Clark, he’s just disliked less.”

When we compares leader favourability among a leader’s own supporters we find that NDP supporters are less likely to have a positive impression of Adrian Dix than Liberal supporters have of Christy Clark.

Only 51% of NDP supporters have a positive impression of Adrian Dix compared with 61% for Christy Clark among Liberal supporters.

“Many NDP supporters are not necessarily voting for the NDP because they like Adrian Dix. They are voting for the NDP because they like Christy Clark even less and want change.”

Leadership Attributes: Clark vs. Dix

Finally, respondents were asked to consider some favourable and unfavourable things that have been said about various politicians. They were shown a list of statements and asked whether they agree or disagree that the statements apply to Christy Clark and to Adrian Dix.

On three of the seven measures, the difference between Dix and Clark is not statistically significant. About one in two British Columbians believe that Dix and Clark are qualified to be Prime Minister. Less than a majority believe they both have sound judgment and a majority consider them to be likeable. On qualifications, judgment, and likeability, neither candidate has a significant advantage over the other.

But Adrian Dix does have an advantage over Christy Clark on the three remaining measures. British Columbians are more likely to agree that Dix understands the problems facing BC than Clark (Dix 61%, Clark 51%). They are also more likely to think he has a clear vision for BC compared with Clark (Dix 53%, Clark 45%). And there is a ten-point difference in the percentage of respondents who agreed that either leader is out of touch with ordinary people with 52% agreeing the statement applies to Christy Clark while 42% agreeing it applies to Dix.

Perhaps most troubling for Christy Clark, the survey found that 65% of British Columbians agree that she is more style than substance. Even 42% of those who said they would vote Liberal agreed that Clark is more style than substance.

leadership

Bottom Line

With two weeks to go until the May 14 election and the leaders set to meet in the first and only televised debate tonight, the BC NDP is a strong position. It has a 10-point lead among decided voters over the BC Liberals. It has a big lead on Vancouver Island and is competitive with the BC Liberals in every other region of the province, including in Greater Vancouver.

It’s leader, Adrian Dix, while not loved by the population, is respected being viewed as qualified, likeable, and empathic by a majority of British Columbians.

While BC NDP support is not up significantly from the 2009 election, it is benefiting from the splintering of past BC Liberal support. Among those who voted Liberal in 2009, only 62% plan to vote BC Liberal again in 2013 with 16% shifting to the NDP and 11% going to the BC Conservatives.

In contrast, the BC NDP is holding onto 82% of its previous support while picking up past Liberal, Green, and non voters to make up for the switchers.

For the BC Liberals, there are some optimistic findings. First, the NDP lead is lower than polls released at the start of the campaign. Second, while the NDP is ahead, it is not because of strong affection for the NDP leader Adrian Dix. Third, NDP support is not up significantly since 2009 and only 37% of British Columbians believe the province is headed in the wrong direction.

The BC Liberals have an opportunity to come back, but a lot will ride on the leaders’ debate tonight.

The 2013 BC Election is far from over. The NDP leads but a victory on May 14 is far from certain. To win, the Liberals will need to convert every respondent who would consider voting Liberal into a voter on election day.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,042 British Columbians eligible to vote in the 2013 provincial election using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a panel of over 500,000 Canadians. The survey was completed from April 23 to 26, 2013.

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 1,042 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched British Columbia’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network.

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.

Ontario Politics: Tories lead by 3; Ontario Liberals and NDP tied at 30%

With Ontario’s legislative assembly returning this week and the three main parties coming to terms with the results of the five by-elections in July, there has been some movement in vote intentions in the province changed.

Provide-wide, the Progressive Conservative Party has the support of 33% of committed voters, followed by the Liberals and NDP at 30% respectively.  Since May, the Tories are down a marginal one point, while the Liberals are down four points and the NDP is up five points.  The Green Party is at 5% while 15% of respondents were undecided.

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Provincial politics in Ontario appear to be in a stalemate with none of the three major parties well positioned to win a provincial election.  However, the results suggest that the Ontario NDP and its leader Andrea Horwath have the greatest opportunity to expand its support since Horwath is the most popular provincial leader and its potential pool of support is equivalent to the Liberals (45% would consider voting NDP and Liberal) and higher than the PC Party (42% would consider voting PC).

Provincial Vote Intention

Since early May, the Ontario Liberal Party’s support among decided voters in the province is down four points to 30% with the PC Party now ahead by three points among committed voters.  The NDP’s slide has been reversed with the third party gaining five points and moving into a tie with the Liberals for second place at 30%.

Slide2

Regionally,  the once commanding 16-point lead in Metro Toronto for the Liberals has been reduced to eight points (OLP 41%, NDP 33%, PC 24%) while in the Greater Toronto/Hamilton/Niagara region surrounding Toronto the PCs have opened up a nine point lead over the Liberals leading 40% to 31% among committed voters.  The NDP is well back in third at 24% in the surrounding region around Toronto.

The PCs have a significant 10-point lead in eastern Ontario (PCs 39%, OLP 29%, NDP 25%) while the NDP, coming off two by-election wins in Windsor and London have a marginal lead in southwestern Ontario, leading the Tories by four points (NDP 37%, PC 33%, OLP 23%).

In Northern Ontario, the NDP leads the Liberals by 27-points, 55% to 28% with the PCs running well back at 6%.  However, due to a small sample size in the North, readers who use caution when making conclusions about support in the region.

In terms of demographics, the PCs have a three-point lead over the Liberals among men (PC 35%, OLP 32%, NDP 26%), while the NDP has opened up a four point lead over the PCs among women with the Liberals falling from first to third among female voters (NDP 35%, PC 31%, Liberal 29%).

The NDP is strongest among voters aged 18 to 29, leading the Liberals by 15 points while the Liberals lead among those aged 30 to 44 (OLP 34%, NDP 30%, PC 25%).  Among older Ontarians, the PCs lead holding an 11-point lead among those aged 45 to 59 and a six-point lead among those aged 60 and over.

Top Provincial Issues

Respondents were shown a list of 18 issues and were asked to select the top three that were most important to them personally.  Overall, there has been a slight shift in the priorities of Ontarians since May.  Job creation is down nine points (from 39% to 30%) while debt and deficit has increased by five points from (25% to 30%) in the past four months.

The top five issues ranked by respondents in order are:

  • Accountability in government (33%),
  • Health care wait times (32%)
  • Deficit and debt (30%)J
  • Job creation (30%)
  • Gas prices (23%)

The table below reports the results of the top issue question by current party supporters, with the coloured boxes highlighting which issues supporters of each party were most likely to rank as important

Slide1 

Profiling Support of Party Leaders

When respondents were asked to rate their personal impressions of the leaders of the main Ontario political parties, only Andrea Horwath registered a net positive impression score.  This represents a measurable shift in the perceptive landscape from May 2013, when Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne held the highest positive score of the three major leaders.

As the Liberal honeymoon with Kathleen Wynne comes to an end, her positive score slipped by three percentage points from May, dropping down to 31%.  Meanwhile, Andrea Horwath’s positive numbers jumped by five percentage points over the same period to 38%, making her the only leader tested with a net positive score.

With these observed shifts in net positive scores, both Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horvath are in a precarious position, each with relatively high positive scores from those who voted for the others’ party in 2011.  Kathleen Wynne was just as likely to be seen in a positive light (31%) by NDP supporters as her overall figure, while 36% of past Liberal voters held positive impressions of Andrea Horwath.  Although these tracking figures suggest that the many burdens carried by the Ontario Liberal Party may be too much for Kathleen Wynne to overcome, the status of the provincial economy may be the deciding factor for voters migrating from the NDP base.

Although his negative numbers have dropped slightly since May, Tim Hudak remains the least liked of the three major party leaders.  Almost a majority of Ontarians have a negative impression of the Leader of the Opposition (42%) while only 20% view him positively. Those who view the PC Leader positively are almost exclusively those who voted PC in 2011 with only 10% of past Liberal and NDP Party supporters saying they have a positive impression of Hudak.  If leadership becomes a primary driver for voting behaviour, these numbers indicate why the PCs will continue to have a difficult time expanding support beyond their 2011 level.

Slide4 

Leadership Attributes

Survey respondents were also asked whether a number of attributes accurately described each of the three main party leaders in Ontario.  Figures in brackets track the change since May 2013.

Overall, Kathleen Wynne has suffered a weakening of her personal brand.  Since May, every one of her tracked qualities has moved in a negative direction, most notably a drop of ten percentage points on traits of having sound judgement and likeability.

Simultaneously, Andrea Horwath’s figures have all moved in favourable directions, particularly in areas of her likeability likeable,  vision for Ontario, and having sound judgement.

Tim Hudak’s personal numbers are not as positive as either Horwath or Wynne, with fewer respondents agreeing that he is likeable, has sound judgment, and is honest; however, his leadership attributes registered only minor changes since May 2013.

Slide3

Even with constant and significant pressure related to the gas plant cancellations, the Tories have been unable to improve the image of Tim Hudak in the public eye.  However, the troubles of the provincial Liberal party have had a significant impact on the reputation and image of Kathleen Wynne who, although still leading Hudak in terms of judgement, leadership and qualification to be premier, suffered significant drops in those key metrics.

In the wake of Wynne’s fall, Andrea Horwath emerged as the front-runner in terms of leadership attributes; particularly in key areas of likability, sound judgement, honesty, and clear vision for Ontario.  Perhaps most importantly, she now tied with Kathleen Wynne on being qualified to be Premier.

The Bottom Line

The honeymoon period for Kathleen Wynne is now over.  The party is now tied for second with the NDP among committed voters (at 30%), only 24% of respondents believe the province is headed in the right direction (down four points since May) and Kathleen Wynne’s personal numbers have entered negative territory with more people now having a negative impression of the Premier than those with a positive impression (positive 31%, negative 36%).  In May, these numbers were reversed (positive 34%, negative 28%).  The longer Premier Wynne has been in power, the less Ontarians seem to like her.

Despite suffering a hit in their overall numbers, the Ontario Liberals are buoyed by positive perceptions about the provincial economy.  The opposition parties have not been effective in making the case that Ontario’s economy would be stronger under their watch as neither party has an advantage over the governing Liberals when it comes to which party respondents believe would best manage the provincial economy.  In fact, a plurality of respondents are unsure about which party they think would do a better job with economic management.

For the NDP, the important findings in within this study were Horwath’s personal leadership numbers.  Thirty-eight percent of respondents have a positive impression of her compared with only 20% who have a negative impression.  Compared with the other main party leaders, more respondents perceive her to be likeable, honest, and having sound judgment and she is competitive with Kathleen Wynne on qualified to be Premier.

Under Tim Hudak, the Progressive Conservative Party has a small lead among committed voters, the party remains weak in Toronto despite its by-election win in Etobicoke Lakeshore.  Hudak’s personal numbers remain weak and the party has lost its advantage on which party voters think is best to manage the economy.  On the bright side, issues that the party has focused on, reducing the deficit and debt and accountability, are the top concerns for many voters presenting the party an opportunity to connect with those voters.  Moreover, frustration and disappointment with the current government is growing with only 22% of respondents believing that the Liberal government deserves to be re-elected.  The challenge for Hudak and the PCs continues to be whether they can convince voters that the PC Party deserves to be elected in its place

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,000 Ontarians eligible to vote 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 online panel of over 400,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from August 30 to September13,  2013.

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 1,000 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

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.

Introducing Volatility Ranges – Dealing with Volatile Voters

A short post on a new measure we have been working on with seat projector and poll analyst Bryan Breguet from TooCloseToCall.ca.  Last week we released our latest federal ballot tracking that found a close three way race between the Tories, NDP and Liberals.

We have been going back and forth for a while since the Alberta and BC elections discussion how pollsters could report polling results with a little less certainty.  One of the mistakes we (pollsters, those interested in politics, the news media) often make is being overly certain – or at least – how polls are reported by pundits and the news media.

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While polls are snapshots in time, we know from a lot of academic research that Canadians are volatile when it comes to voting behaviour.  The concept of “partisan dealignment” advocated by Harold Clarke and his colleagues studying Canadian elections in the 1970s and 1980s and more recent 2004 and 2006 elections argues that short-term factors such as current issues, leadership, and campaign effects have a greater impact on voter behaviour than social factors such as class, race, language, or region (Clarke et al, 1979; 1991).

Bryan developed a way to measure the potential range of support of political parties using our scaled “likelihood to vote” survey questions.

We first introduced these scales during the 2011 Ontario election.  Basically, survey respondents are asked to rate their likelihood of voting for each of the main parties on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 means they will absolutely not vote for the party and 10 means they will absolutely vote for the party.

Bryan explains how he turns our “likelihood to vote” question into probabilities using the traditional vote question over on his blog.  Using these probabilities he then runs simulations to determine the probability of different vote outcomes and what this has on the aggregate level.  This produces a range of popular vote scores that could happen based on the likelihood of voters to vote for each of the main political parties.

Using the latest data from our survey conducted at the end of August and early September, the chart below details the committed vote intention, the minimum and maximum level of support for each of the five main parties in Canada.

volatility

As you can see, our latest poll had a three-way tie between the CPC, LPC, and NDP.

And when you look at the volatility ranges, the scores produced for the three main parties are basically the same meaning that two years out from the next election, anything can really happen.  There’s a scenario where the Tories could get 37% of the vote but also one where their support drops to 21%.  The same is basically true for the Liberals and the NDP.

If we move away from looking at vote intention as a static variable and one that can move – it is clear that the vote intentions of Canadians are volatile and any of the three main parties could conceivable win the largest share of the vote.

Federal Politics: Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP in close three-way race

According to a new national survey by public opinion firm Abacus Data, the federal Liberal Party, Conservative Party, and NDP remain in a three-way tie for the lead in federal vote intentions. This three-way race has held constant since earlier in the summer (June 2013) when support for the federal Conservatives was down seven points since April 2013.

Among all Canadians, 23% said they vote for the Liberal Party (no change from June) while 23% would vote Conservative (up two since June). The NDP is unchanged at 21% of all respondents while 22% said they were undecided.

In Quebec among all respondents, support for the BQ was up seven points, from 19% in June to 26% in the most recent survey compared with 27% for the NDP and 21% for the Liberals. The Conservatives are at 8% among all respondents in Quebec while 14% of respondents said they were undecided.

Among only committed voters, the Conservative Party and Liberal Party are statistically tied at 30% for the Tories and 29% for the Liberals. The NDP is not far behind at 27% support among committed voters.

SeptVoteGraph

Subgroup Analysis (Committed Voters only)

This survey included an oversample of respondents living in Ontario allowing us to better understand voting intentions within Canada’s largest province. Province-wide, there is a close three-way race between the Tories, Liberals, and NDP. The Conservative Party and Liberal Party are statistically tied at 33% and 32% of committed voters respectively with the NDP not far back at 28%.

Within Ontario, the Liberals and the NDP are tied in Metro Toronto (Liberal 36% vs. NDP 34%) while the Tories have a 12-point lead in the region surrounding Toronto (CPC 42%, LPC 30%, NDP 23%). In Southwestern Ontario, the three main parties are statistically tied with each receiving about a third of committed voter support while in Eastern Ontario, the Tories and Liberals are deadlocked (Liberals 36% vs. Tories 34%).

Most of the movement from our June survey has occurred in Quebec where Bloc Quebecois is up nine points among committed voters from 22% to 31% between June and September. The NDP had the support of 32% of committed voters in Quebec (up six points from June) while the Liberal Party was at 25% among committed voters (down eight points since June).

Alberta continues to be Conservative country with 65% of committed Albertans saying they would vote for the Conservatives followed by the Liberals at 22% and the NDP at 5%.

In neighbouring British Columbia, the a latest Abacus poll has a close three-way race with the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP all within seven points of each other. Readers should note the small sample sizes in regions outside of Ontario and Quebec.

CommittedVotersSept

Bottom Line

Since the beginning of summer 2013, the political opinion landscape in Canada has largely held steady.

The top three parties remain in a close race, with the Liberal and Conservative parties tied nationally. This shows that while June polling had seen a drop in support for the Conservative Party, there was no further decline in support over the summer.

The Conservatives have been able to mitigate some bad press this summer, keeping a lid on Liberal momentum and maintaining their tie for the lead.

For now, no party has emerged as an obvious front-runner among the three largest national parties coming out of the summer. The Liberal surge is holding but has stalled, the Tory drop is sticking by has stopped, and the NDP is holding onto to large pockets of support in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia.

The only potential movement may be in Quebec where the BQ’s numbers may be on the rise thanks to the controversy and focus on the PQ government’s social values charter proposal. However, due to a small sample size in Quebec it’s difficult for us to be confident that the rise in our numbers is a true reflection of a shift in preferences in Quebec.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,600 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 Aug 30 to Sept 4, 2013.

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 1,600 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.5%, 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, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.

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.