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Closer Race as Parliament Begins – January 30, 2014

ETHICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY COULD BE PIVOTAL ISSUE IN NEXT ELECTION

[Ottawa – January 30, 2014] In our latest poll, the Liberals and the Conservatives are in a near tie. At just under 30 points, the Conservative Party is nipping at the heels of the gently sliding Liberals. who hold a narrow three-point lead which disappears when we turn to our likely voter model. The NDP remains in third place, but they are holding steady at 24 and they are within striking distance of both parties

There is some evidence that the Conservative constituency is “returning to normal”, as it were. They are recovering their lead with men and seniors, both groups that have traditionally voted Conservative but had been turning to the Liberals in recent months. They have also recovering their standing with non-Canadian born voters.

Regionally, the Conservatives utterly dominate Alberta and Saskatchewan. Indeed, the party’s national standing is arguably exaggerated by the fact that they would win many of the ridings in these provinces by large margins (these excess votes are essentially overkill, since they do translate to extra seats). The Liberals do extremely well in Atlantic Canada and, interestingly, Manitoba where, despite the small sample size, the consistent pattern of Liberal fortunes that we have seen poll after poll suggests that the province may very well be switching from blue to red. The NDP continues to do very well in Quebec, where nearly a third of their supporters are found. The most interesting findings, however, come from the key battleground province of Ontario, where both the Liberals and the Conservatives are in a statistical dead heat.

In order to better understand the constituencies of each party, we also asked respondents about the size of their household and the frequency with which they attend religious services. Results reveal that the Conservative Party does best with large families, while the Liberals and NDP lead among singles. The Conservative Party leads handily among regular Church-goers, which may have been reinforced by the strong presence of religious leaders among Stephen Harper’s Israel delegation. Indeed, of all the demographic indicators, religious service attendance is by far the best predictor of whether someone will vote Conservative.

Most Important Election Issue

As the race tightens, our new poll shows a real shift in the key issues which will define success or failure in the next election. We asked respondents to select what they consider to be their most important election issue – social issues, economic issues, fiscal issues, or ethics and accountability. A plurality of Canadians – 34 per cent – selected economic issues, which may explain the current government’s fixation on touting its economic record. In any case, this strategy appears to be paying off. Indeed, the groups that prioritize economic issues – seniors, men, and Ontarians – are all groups with which the Conservative Party has been making impressive gains over the last month.

What is perhaps most interesting, however, is the recent resurgence of ethics and accountability as an election issue. A decade ago, at the height of the Sponsorship Scandal, one-fifth of the Canadians rated ethics and accountability as their top concern As the economy cooled and with Stephen Harper taking office on a pledge of restoring accountability to government, this issue gradually faded from the minds of Canadians. With the recent wave of scandals that have dominated the news – namely the Robocalls Scandal and, more recently, the Senate Scandal – ethics and accountability have once again surged in importance and now rival the erstwhile dominant social issues such as health care and education. Ironically, this issue – which propelled the Conservatives to power in 2006 – has now turned full circle on them. It is no longer the Conservative supporters who rate this issue as salient; it is opposition supporters and the issue has risen significantly to the point that it could be a pivotal issue again.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (January 30, 2014)

1 comment to Closer Race as Parliament Begins – January 30, 2014

  • John K Collier

    Looks to me that a lot of spin is required from the PMO to change the direction that Harper finds himself in.