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TIGHTER RACE AS BALLOT QUESTION COMES INTO SHARPER RELIEF – April 6, 2011

A CHECK-UP AND PRELIMINARY DISCUSSION OF OUR TRACKING SYSTEM

[Ottawa – April 6, 2011] – While we are completing the calibration and analysis of our new election tracking system, we thought we would offer up a preliminary picture of how the campaign is evolving. Beginning very early Friday, we will be rolling out the results of our new tracking system with our partners at iPolitcs. There are some interesting findings which we will share today and we want to signal some of the more interesting diagnostic analysis that we are preparing for week end. We are also sharing a specific test we have been conducting on whether Elizabeth May should be included in the national election television debates, contrary to the current decision of the broadcast consortium.

The focus of our tracking system is to give readers the best possible understanding of how the parties stand, how things are evolving, and a sense of what this might mean in terms of the ultimate decision on May 2nd. In order to do so, we are going beyond the tracking of simple vote intention to look at how that looks among those voters who are most likely to actually vote. We are also looking at how fundamental confidence in the country and the current government are coalescing with the dominant issues of the day to produce shifting voting patterns. This will entail looking at things such as voter “loyalty” and mobility since the 2008 election as well as the firmness of one’s vote and the leaning tendencies in the case of those who would consider other choices. We also consider “certainty” of voting and the level of “enthusiasm” one has for one’s current choice. We will be releasing a first cut at this approach early Friday but today we will be offering up some initial ingredients and a sense of what we will be focusing on at the end of the week.

Contrary to the erratic impression from reading the welter of various polling reports out there, the race appears to be evolving in a relatively orderly pattern with a clear logic. Immediately after the government fell it saw a boost from its roughly 7-point advantage to a formidable 11-point advantage. This lead remained relatively flat throughout the first week of the campaign with the Conservative Party ending the week with a sizable advantage with important strengths in Ontario and more-likely-to-vote older voters. So where have things evolved since?

Currently, the Conservatives have a somewhat less decisive lead of around 9 points but a number of factors suggest that this is a much less comfortable position than at the end of last week. Notably, their fairly stable and significant lead in Ontario has largely dissipated with major implications for their overall seat outcome. While they haven’t changed much in Quebec, the Liberals may be seeing something of a spurt in Quebec (possibly at the expense of the Bloc). This bears careful watching as the federalist forces have been ineffectually scattered across federalist options in earlier polling. This leads to the other key preliminary finding.

Canadians are showing an almost paradoxical strengthening of confidence in the country (probably driven by economic confidence ) at precisely the same time as they are showing an erosion of confidence in the current federal government. This gap is particularly pronounced in Quebec.

We also see a dramatic shift in the dominant issues of Canadians as issues of ethics and accountability have leapt from a dormant last place position to most important issue. Putting these findings together with other trends, we may be seeing the master ballot question of this election coming into sharper relief. The country is fine, economy good (particularly for Conservative supporters): but the federal government is not and this rising concern with the managerial style of the current government is particularly acute outside of the Conservative base. So increasingly two powerful sentiments are clashing: “everything is fine and why risk the adventure of rocking the boat with a new government” versus “things may be fine but the government isn’t and it’s time for a change of management”. We need to look no further than the burgeoning concern with “ethics and accountability” to understand why this issue is becoming a central focus and why the Conservatives appear to be backing up from majority to what would now be a diminished minority, which, according to the Conservative Party’s own election gambit, would produce a change of government. In terms of the prospects of a majority it seems that is looking more elusive. Not only has the race narrowed somewhat but the Conservatives have fallen back badly on second choice, which the NDP lead on and the Liberals have risen as a second choice.

There is good news in the poll for the Conservatives as well. They have clear and formidable advantages on “commitment’. Their supporters are by far the most loyal from the last election, the most likely to have no other choice, the most like to be certain to vote, the least likely to change their mind and the most enthusiastic about their choice. All of these are important and clear advantages. It may, however, be that what makes the Conservatives so strong also makes them so limited in their ability to grow. Consequently, if Canadians take Stephen Harper at his word that anything short of a minority will mean a change in government, the current forces may well be coalescing to produce that very result. At this stage it appears that the ballot question is becoming increasingly clear to voters. The final result is extremely uncertain at this point but the majority outcome is looking increasingly unlikely.

Click here for the full report: full_report_april_6_2011

8 comments to TIGHTER RACE AS BALLOT QUESTION COMES INTO SHARPER RELIEF – April 6, 2011

  • Naveed

    I think as of April 6th, this is a very accurate assessment of the political support condition in Canada. At the moment there is some hope that Michael Ignatieff can narrow the gap with the Conservatives even more, and save Canada from a Harper majority. There has been a lot of unaccountability with the Harper government. I would say that the election results at the moment could be unaccountable too, a surprise for the Conservatives perhaps.

  • Wascally Wabbit

    Frank – I’m still curious whether you are tracking the undecided and seeing when / if they get off the fence – and if in your tracking – there are signs that the numbers are reducing – indicating that people ARE making a decision at last? and a secondary question to that – IF you are – do the profiles indicate which party / parties they may have supported in the past – and which they are planning to vote for on May 2nd?

  • mallard duck

    This racial slur candidate and the candidate who does not think sexual assult is a crime is the tip of the iceburg for the liberals.We have all seen the red book before with its lies(SEE GST REPEALED) adscam etc. We need a majority government to keep the tax and spend left out of power and save our grandchildrens future.

  • Naveed

    On the contrary we need a Liberal government with its policies to help the average Canadians, the seniors and the sick. We need governance that is not only geared towards the huge Corporations and needless spending on military and summits, but one that cares for its citizens. A Liberal government would only cancel further high tax cuts to the corporations and it is the Conservative untruth and falsity that they would increase taxes to boost social programmes in Canada.
    In short we need a government that is not the non-caring, non-democratic, self-serving one of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives, but a Liberal one to save our grandchildrens future.

  • humphrey

    Mallard duck – “and save our grandchildren’s future” lies not in the hands of the Conservative Party of Canada – have you totalled all their financial commitments/promises yet. I too plea for children and grandchildren that Harper NOT be given a majority to save them and Canada from this cynical individual’s fiscal irresponsibility and obvious lack of accountability and ethics.

  • aa

    Supporting business keeps the unemployment rate down. We have just come through a recession. There may be more to come yet as top financial advisors have said the US is not out of the woods with their financial difficulties. Therefore, it is not the time to elect a government that will spend liberally on social programs. We must hold the spending and make sure people are working and have $’s in their pockets to support our local businesses.

  • 2apark

    If the CIT was already in the lower zone among the G7 economies, how does raising it back to 18% pose a threat to economic stability? Would the industries affected move to a higher CIT zone in another G7 country or out of the G7 entirely? Not very likely. While I don’t agree with the figures of income derived from the return to the previous rate posted by both the LPC and the CPC, I also don’t believe to be a serious risk. What I would like to see is a serious discussion on Health financing policy and what Canadian policy should be moving forward.

  • George in Freddy

    2apark

    What you don’t take into account is the additional business tax claimed by the provinces. When you ad the Federal tax and the provincial tax in most provinces our companies pay fay more than most of the G8 ccounties. As a small business owner I am telling you the risk is enormous and you LPC an NDP better get that through your heads.