About EKOS Politics

We launched this website in order to showcase our election research, and our suite of polling technologies including Probit and IVR. We will be updating this site frequently with new polls, analysis and insight into Canadian politics. EKOS's experience, knowledge and sophisticated research designs have contributed positively to many previous elections.

Other EKOS Products

In addition to current political analysis, EKOS also makes available to the public general research of interest, including research in evaluation, general public domain research, as well as a full history of EKOS press releases.

Media Inquires

For media inquires, please contact: Frank Graves President EKOS Research Associates t: 613.235-7215 [email protected]

Mr. Mulcair Has a Bit of a Loyalty Problem – April 16, 2013

[Ottawa – April 16, 2013] Fidelity isn’t one of the strong points of Canadian voters but Thomas Mulcair seems to be suffering a bit of a loyalty problem with his new party.

A year after assuming the leadership of the NDP and the office of the leader of opposition, he is experiencing significant difficulties. He hasn’t seen anything in the polls which could be termed a disastrous or precipitous fall — but he has seen a slow slide which will become a disaster if it isn’t corrected.

He remains what would have been unimaginable just two years ago: leader of the Official Opposition with a 100-strong caucus. He is also a seasoned and highly-capable politician with the funding and machinery that goes along with the NDP’s new status.

But his party faithful aren’t being all that faithful — and if this tepid connection continues he and his party could find themselves back in their third-place corner. The party has slid to third place in our most recent poll. Their 7-point fall is less serious than the Conservatives’ 11-point fall (and they are now closer to the Conservatives than on election day 2011). The resurgent Liberal party is now ahead of them.

When we adjust for most likely voters the New Democrats resume a tie for second — but this is still not a healthy pattern for the NDP. The modest decline obscures the fact that these numbers (particularly those from Quebec, where they are now third) could produce a much lower seat outcome. Obviously, speculation about seat outcomes more than two years from an election is highly hypothetical and these patterns are quite reversible.

Perhaps more troubling is what’s happening to the 2011 vote and where new or returning voters are going. We see a departure from a pattern we saw previously where non-Conservative voters were fairly evenly divided in their loyalties and were waffling back and forth between the Liberals and New Democrats.

Conservative supporters remain the most loyal, although the party’s 75 per cent retention rate is actually down somewhat. The Liberals have hung onto about 70 per cent of their voters and are making sizable gains elsewhere. The NDP, however, has seen the greatest erosion, with only 61 per cent of past voters still with them. Nearly one-quarter of the NDP vote has gone to the Liberals.

The fealty problem continues when we examine the approval ratings of Thomas Mulcair compared to the other leaders. Where Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau have the approval of the vast majority of their party faithful, Mulcair decidedly does not. Recalling that these are only the residual 60 per cent who have remained with the party, only about half of his constituency approve of him. So his party faithful aren’t particularly faithful and the combination of defections and the tepid loyalty of the remaining constituency needs to be urgently addressed.

Nostalgia and continued affection for the late Jack Layton may be interfering with the party’s need to forge a strong bond with its current leader. “Get over it” may be harsh advice but trying to compare the living with the almost sainted memory of Layton is not a trait of a healthy political party. Mr. Mulcair can fight Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau; he can’t fight ghosts.

In analyzing the discrepancies between the party constituencies and the leader’s constituency we see some areas of potential concern. While Mr. Mulcair’s approval is modestly above his party’s support levels, his strongest connections are with males and the university-educated. The NDP, however, does better with women and the less well-educated. Mr. Mulcair should seek to strengthen his connection with women and the economically vulnerable.

So how can the New Democrats turn this around while the situation is still fairly fluid? Ironically, the answer may not lie in focusing on the shrinking center of Canadian political landscape — they’ve tried that, and it didn’t stop matters from getting worse. Rather, it may make sense for the NDP to acknowledge the new polarization of the political landscape and stake out ground of its own. Emotional resonance comes from strong value positions, as the Conservatives know, and there may be more advantage to the NDP in being the yin to Harper’s yang than in contesting the mushy middle.

This obviously requires clear economic narratives about how the country and the New Democrats’ constituency would be concretely better off with Mr. Mulcair as PM. The party could make gains by building a narrative around greater economic fairness and prosperity-sharing, given that concerns about economic inequality have risen sharply in Canada.

Donning soft sweaters and kissing babies might seem the right antidote to an impression of Tom Mulcair as overly gruff — but we suspect a lack of volume and clarity about where he and the NDP stand is the real impediment to moving forward. Mr. Mulcair has been stalled in public awareness since last year. It’s still possible voters can be brought back to the New Democrats in time for 2015 — but not if the leader and the party remain on their current trajectory.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (April 16, 2013)

Comments are closed.