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Liberals Have Slight Lead as Harper Losing Edge on Values

Worst ever projection forward last week; this week, things are equally bad looking back

[Ottawa – March 20, 2015] This week, there is not much new to report on the vote intention front. The Liberals have bounced back to 32 points, while the Conservatives have dropped to 30, their lowest point so far this year. It is worth noting that this represents a net four-point shift for the Conservatives (from a two-point lead to a two-point deficit) and certainly bears watching; however, they are not far off from their average showing over the past few months and we would advise against making any predictions at this point. The NDP are at 21 points and seem to be holding steady.

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Regionally, the key battleground of Ontario is turning into an interesting race; the Liberals have opened up a small, but statistically significant lead. Meanwhile, Quebec, once a tight battle between the Liberals and NDP, has turned into a very unpredictable four-way race with the NDP, Liberals, Conservatives, and Bloc Québécois all within four points of each other.

The Liberals have also opened up a surprising lead in Manitoba. While the small sample size here confounds a more meaningful analysis, a net 35-point shift is statistically significant and we believe that something is going on in the province. Atlantic Canada remains a Liberal stronghold while Alberta remains firmly in the hands of the Conservatives. The Liberals have improved their standing in British Columbia, but the province is highly fluid and we would recommend against reading too deeply into the week-to-week movements here.

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Following up on our work from last week, Canadians were travelling down a path of increased intolerance. However, in light of the recent debate over culture and security, Canadians seem to be re-evaluating their stance. Most notably, Stephen Harper’s values advantage has disappeared and Canadians are now evenly split on whether it is Mr. Harper or Mr. Trudeau who is best able to represent their values. While this is certainly not the first time we have seen the two leaders in a statistical tie, the timing of this shift suggests that something very real is happening.

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There are a number of recent events that could be driving this trend. The results could be blowback over Bill C-51. Alternatively, Canadians may be reacting to Mr. Trudeau’s speech on values. More likely, however, is that Canadians are having second thoughts on the values front and the security and culture narrative is beginning to lose strength as the prospect of a stagnant and eroding economy begins to take hold.

Last week, we reported that Canadians’ projection for their economic future was at an all-time low. This week we look backwards — and the picture is every bit as grim. Just one in seven Canadians feels they have moved ahead over the past year. Furthermore, just one in five feels they have moved ahead since Mr. Harper formed his majority government.

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In 1980, Ronald Reagan campaigned on a famous but simple question – “are you better off than you were four years ago”? It seems that Canadians are beginning to ask themselves this very question and the results are quite bleak. As focus fades from culture and terror, it will become increasingly difficult to keep attention away from the economy. Mr. Harper may very well decide to shift gears and focus on the economic growth that Canada has enjoyed under his leadership; however, it may be difficult selling this narrative to a public that hasn’t seen a substantial real wage increase in decades.

Approval ratings

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Direction of country/government

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Methodology

This study was conducted using High Definition Interactive Voice Response (HD-IVR™) technology, which allows respondents to enter their preferences by punching the keypad on their phone, rather than telling them to an operator. In an effort to reduce the coverage bias of landline only RDD, we created a dual landline/cell phone RDD sampling frame for this research. As a result, we are able to reach those with a landline and cell phone, as well as cell phone only households and landline only households.

The field dates for this survey are March 11-17, 2015. In total, a random sample of 3,832 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-1.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, region, and educational attainment to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (March 20, 2015)

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