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NO PUBLIC BACKLASH YET OVER ROBO-CALLS – March 2, 2012

…BUT OMINOUS SIGNALS FOR GOVERNMENT AND C-30 SEEN IN URGENT NEED OF REVISIONS

[Ottawa – March 2, 2012] – Having argued that there is little point in focussing on a nonexistent horse race, current events render the obligatory vote intention check up a little more meaningful. While there is no horserace, an occasional glimpse at voter intention can be a useful indicator of moral authority, particularly in a period where a still fairly fresh majority government is being buffeted by rising controversy.

Nearly a year after the election, the Conservative Party is well short of their May 2nd position and is now tied within the margin of error of the leaderless and supposedly floundering NDP. It should be noted, however, that Conservative support may well be understated because this poll covers 100 per cent of eligible voters, not just the 60 per cent who will actually turn out to vote. Nevertheless, with a two-point lead, even allowing for the greater voter turnout among Conservative supporters, it is highly unlikely the Conservative Party would retain its majority in the remotely hypothetical world of another election. Instead, they would be relegated to opposition with an NDP-led coalition. So while the government has not surrendered moral authority at this point, the poll suggests it will need to tread carefully in the current context as it doesn’t have oodles of residual political capital available.

The Liberals, meanwhile, have improved slightly from their disastrous May 2nd performance, but remain mired in third place. The Green Party is also up from its May 2nd standing, but this is largely with younger voters who have a much lower propensity to actually vote. The Bloc Quebecois has also improved its standing in Quebec since the election.

The Conservative Party is doing extremely well in Alberta and there now appears to be a huge divide now between Alberta at one end of the favourability spectrum and Quebec at the other. The Conservatives also do well with seniors and males but the Liberal Party seems to be improving its standing with seniors. The NDP is doing quite well in second place and is within the margin of error of the Conservative Party and their slide in Quebec with the rise in support for the Bloc Quebecois is offset by better performance in British Columbia where they now lead.

Next, we turn to how Canadians feel about the direction in which the country and its government and heading. Mirroring rising economic anxieties, confidence in national direction continues to fall. It is now on par with the previous historical low seen in October 2010. Even more disconcerting for the government is the steep rise in confidence of the direction of the federal government. A 15-point net deficit has opened up on disapproval which is particularly pronounced in Quebec and among younger, more educated Canada. Albertans and foreign-born Canadians, however, are very happy.

Lastly, we look at the federal government’s recently-tabled Bill C-30, colloquially referred to as the Online Surveillance Bill. Only 15 per cent support passing Bill C-30 in its present form. It is decisively rejected everywhere – even Conservative Canada. There is, however, considerable receptivity to “significant changes”. Indeed, the plurality of respondents (45 per cent) would be open to an amended version of the bill, but those who would rather kill the bill outright outnumber those who support the current version by a wide margin.

Opposition to the bill is particularly strong among NDP and Green voters and even Conservative supporters would prefer an amended form of the bill over its current version. Men and university graduates are also strongly opposed to the bill, but in an interesting finding, the group most likely to use the internet – those under the age of 25 – are somewhat more amenable to having their internet activities monitored than their parents and grandparents.

All in all, the media frenzy of the previous week over Bill C-30 and Vic Toews seems to have been rapidly displaced by the new frenzy over robo-calls and possible vote suppression. Whether this will fade as rapidly in a public which seen to have collective ADHD remains to be seen. What is clear is that if this latest controversy does take hold and worsen for the government, there is ample evidence that their weakened position from the last election and poor standing in terms of basic directional indicators could see them descend into areas where their legitimacy would be in question.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (March 2, 2012)

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