Federal Politics: Most Canadians Not Sure Who To Believe in Duffy vs. Harper

According to a new national Abacus Data survey conducted after Senator Mike Duffy’s first speech in the Senate but before his second, 60% of respondents are unsure who they believe most when asked to pick between Prime Minister Harper and Senator Duffy.  When respondents were asked who they believed the most between Prime Minister Harper and Senator Duffy, 22% said they were more likely to believe the Prime Minister while 17% said they were believed Senator Duffy the most.  The majority of respondents (60%) were unsure who to believe.

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Most Canadians are following the Senate controversy at least somewhat closely

Respondents were also asked how closely they have been following news of the Senate controversy involving Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau.  Overall, 18% said they have been following the news very closely while another 41% who are following it somewhat closely.  There is little difference in attention across party voters from 2011.

How closely have you been following news of the Senate controversy involving Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and the Prime Minister’s Office?

All Respondents

2011
CPC Voters

2011
NDP Voters

2011
Liberal Voters

Very closely

18%

21%

25%

21%

Somewhat closely

41%

50%

43%

40%

Not that closely

24%

23%

21%

29%

Not at all

17%

7%

11%

10%

 

Who do you believe the most –  Prime Minister Harper or Senator Duffy?

When respondents were asked who they believed the most between Prime Minister Harper and Senator Duffy, 22% said they were more likely to believe the Prime Minister while 17% said they were believed Senator Duffy the most.  The majority of respondents (60%) were unsure who to believe.

In the conflict between Senator Mike Duffy and the Prime Minister’s Office, who do you believe the most?
By 2011 Federal Vote

All Respondents

2011
CPC Voters

2011
NDP Voters

2011
Liberal Voters

PM Harper

22%

46%

11%

13%

Sen. Duffy

17%

9%

27%

25%

Unsure

60%

45%

62%

62%

Not surprisingly, there was a strong relationship between past vote and who respondents believed the most.  Past Conservative voters were much more likely to say they believed Prime Minister Harper the most (46%) than any other subgroup while only 11% of past NDP voters and 13% of past Liberal voters said they trusted the Prime Minister the most.  Also of note, 45% of past Conservative voters were not sure who to believe.  This is a troubling finding for the Conservative Party and demonstrates some potential for further damage to the Conservative brand if the controversy continues.

Among those who voted Conservative in 2011 who were unsure who to believe the most, 49% said they would vote Conservative today while 12% would vote Liberal and 4% would vote NDP.  Another 33% said they were undecided who they would support.

When we look at respondents who have been following the news of the controversy closely, 30% said they believed Prime Minister Harper the most while 24% sided with Senator Duffy.  Even among those following the issue, 46% were unsure who they believed the most.

In the conflict between Senator Mike Duffy and the Prime Minister’s Office, who do you believe the most?
By How closely following controversy

All Respondents

Very closely
/Somewhat closely

Not that closely/
Not at all

PM Harper

22%

30%

12%

Sen. Duffy

17%

24%

9%

Unsure

60%

46%

80%

 

Bottom Line

Most Canadians are following this story closely (59%) – although not much more than other notable events we tracked over the past few years: 49% followed the NSA leak story closely62% were following the US presidential election closely.  The Senate expense scandal has gained the attention of those Canadians engaged in public affairs but has not really transcended this group largely because it is a complicated story that has been going on for months.

But other aspects of this poll should be very troubling for the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party.  When asked who they believe the most when it comes to the conflict between Senator Duffy and the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister only barely edges out the Senator.  More striking, 60% of respondents are unsure who to believe – a stinging indictment of a sitting Prime Minister.  Most Canadians don’t give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt – even 45% of those who voted Conservative in 2011.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,280 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 25 to 29, 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 1,280 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.8%, 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.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.  He’s an avid road cyclist.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248

E: david@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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