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PRE-DEBATE SURVEY

Well, At Least Dion Needn’t Worry About Excessive Expectations

[OTTAWA – October 1, 2008] – A miniscule 5% of Canadians expect Stéphane Dion to be the winner in the leaders’ debates tonight and tomorrow evening. Dion has said in the past that he loves being underestimated, and he certainly doesn’t need to worry about high expectations going into these debates, which mark the turn into the home stretch of the election campaign.

Sixty-two per cent of Canadians say that they intend to tune in when the leaders go at it – tonight in French and tomorrow evening in English.

The likely winners? Stephen Harper and Jack Layton are in a dead heat, with 30% of Canadians rating each of them as the likely winner. In most of the country, Harper and Layton are seen as the joint frontrunners, though interestingly, in British Columbia, where the two parties are locked in a fearsome battle, Layton is given the early edge.

Despite the media build-up to her appearance, only 11% of Canadians say Elizabeth May will be the likely winner. She still outstrips Dion. Even Gilles Duceppe, at 9% nationally – largely on the strength of expectations in Quebec – does better than the Liberal leader.

In fact, Dion fails to beat out either “nobody” or “don’t know”, as the favourite to win.

“Dion has such stunningly low expectations coming into this debate that he is almost bound to exceed them,” said EKOS President Frank Graves. “That may create an opportunity for him. There are nonetheless dangers for him in the debate as well. Some people who had been sitting on the bench until recently have started to drift back into the Liberal camp in recent days. A weak performance by Dion could send them skittering away again.”

Well over half of Canadians – 58% — say that they consider the debates important in helping them to make up their mind how to vote on October 14.

Detailed Tables:

Intention to Watch the Debates

Q. Are you planning on watching the debates?

BASE: Canadians

Canada

BC

AB

MB/SK

ON

QC

ATL

n=

1496

244

124

108

569

298

153

Margin of error (+/-)

2.5

6.2

8.8

9.4

4.1

5.7

7.9

Yes

62

55

56

61

66

64

56

No

28

34

33

26

23

29

31

Don’t know/No response

10

11

12

13

11

8

13

Intention to Watch the Debates

Q. Are you planning on watching the debates?

Current Vote Intention

BASE: Canadians

Canada

CPC

LPC

NDP

GP

BQ

Undecided

n=

1496

497

383

280

136

109

41

Margin of error (+/-)

2.5

4.4

5.0

5.9

8.4

9.4

15.3

Yes

62

66

65

64

54

68

43

No

28

25

24

25

35

25

28

Don’t know/No response

10

9

11

12

12

6

29

Importance of the Debates

Q. How important will the leaders’ performance in the debates be in your decision of who to vote for on October 14?

BASE: Canadians

Canada

BC

AB

MB/SK

ON

QC

ATL

n=

1496

244

124

108

569

298

153

Margin of error (+/-)

2.5

6.2

8.8

9.4

4.1

5.7

7.9

Not very important

40

46

45

42

40

35

35

Moderately important

28

30

30

29

29

24

33

Important

30

22

22

27

29

38

31

Importance of the Debates – Election 2004 vs. 2008

Election 2004

2008

BASE: Canadians

(Jun. 7-9)

(Sep. 29-Oct. 1)

n=

1237

1496

Not very important

36

40

Moderately important

24

28

Important

40

30

Importance of Debates

Q. How important will the leaders’ performance in the debates be in your decision of who to vote for on October 14?

Current Vote Intention

BASE: Canadians

Canada

CPC

LPC

NDP

GP

BQ

Undecided

n=

1496

497

383

280

136

109

41

Margin of error (/-)

2.5

4.4

5.0

5.9

8.4

9.4

15.3

Not very important

40

43

38

40

43

33

19

Moderately important

28

29

30

23

29

33

29

Important

30

27

32

34

25

33

25

Expectations for the Leaders in the Debates

Q. Leaving aside which party you are considering voting for, which leader do you expect to have the best performance in the leader’s debates?

BASE: Canadians

Canada

BC

AB

MB/SK

ON

QC

ATL

n=

1496

244

124

108

569

298

153

Margin of error (/-)

2.5

6.2

8.8

9.4

4.1

5.7

7.9

Stephen Harper

30

29

47

33

31

20

26

Jack Layton

30

37

20

34

32

27

25

Elizabeth May

11

14

12

12

15

2

16

Gilles Duceppe

9

3

1

4

3

29

4

Stephane Dion

5

3

5

5

5

7

6

Nobody

6

4

5

4

6

6

10

Do not know/no response

9

10

10

8

9

7

12

Expectations for the Leaders in the Debates

Q. Leaving aside which party you are considering voting for, which leader do you expect to have the best performance in the leader’s debates?

Current Vote Intention

BASE: Canadians

CANADA

CPC

LPC

NDP

GP

BQ

Undecided

n=

1496

497

383

280

136

109

41

Margin of error (/-)

2.5

4.4

5.0

5.9

8.4

9.4

15.3

Stephen Harper

30

60

15

15

23

11

8

Jack Layton

30

20

30

56

24

24

21

Elizabeth May

11

4

19

10

32

2

7

Gilles Duceppe

9

4

6

4

3

52

11

Stephane Dion

5

1

13

3

7

3

0

Nobody

6

5

7

5

2

3

12

Do not know/no response

9

5

11

7

9

4

41

Methodology:

Today’s poll was conducted using EKOS’ unique hybrid internet-telephone research panel, Probit©. This panel is randomly recruited from the general population, meaning that, the only way to be included in Probit© is through random selection. Unlike opt-in internet-only research panels, Probit© supports confidence intervals and error testing.

The field dates for this survey are September 29 to October 1, 2008. In total, a random sample of 1496 Canadians aged 18 and over responded to the survey. A sample of this size provides a margin of error of /- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as regions).

All the data were statistically weighted to ensure the samples composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

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election-08-pre-debate-oct1

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