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Budget Fails to Propel Conservatives

[Ottawa – May 8, 2015] Despite a heavily publicized budget, the Liberals appear to be closing the gap and are now tied with the Conservatives, who are now at 30.3 points and have seen a gentle erosion in their support since their peak of 35 points in early February. The current government effectively “sold the farm”, as it were, pulling out all of the stops and sparing no expense in marketing what was clearly a highly visible budget. In the end, however, the budget was not well received. Conservative fortunes have stalled, virtually eliminating any chance of an early election call.

The NDP, meanwhile, have been consistently polling around 23-24 points for several weeks now, territory that was relatively foreign to them just a few short months ago. We now have a pretty tight three-way race with the Liberals and Conservatives tied and holding a small advantage over the NDP.

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Regionally, there have been no decisive movements aside from the elimination of the Conservative lead in Ontario. The NDP have also enjoyed a modest improvement in the west, particularly in Alberta, where they have enjoyed a slow but continuous rise since mid-February. Seniors, who responded well to the April 21st budget, have nestled back into their old patterns and the commanding lead enjoyed by the Conservatives last week has narrowed from 18 points to just seven.

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Implications of the Alberta election

In this week’s historic election, the Alberta NDP formed government for the first time, putting an end to the Progressive Conservative Association’s 44-year dynasty. Was this all a result of Rachel Notley’s leadership? Or were there other forces are work? While leadership is certainly important, we believe that the results reflect a broader transformation seen throughout Canada. Anxious about middle class stagnation (47% of Albertans select restoring middle class progress as their most important election issue ), Albertans were growing weary of the model of austerity and trickle-down economics, instead favouring a shift from staples and extraction to innovation and, as Ms. Notley described it, “value-added” economics.

Another major implication of the Alberta election was the education gap between parties. The Alberta election showed a clear rejection of Progressive Conservatives by Alberta’s university graduates. Furthermore, we saw a remarkable unification of the university and college votes, who usually stand light-years apart in terms of vote-intention (college graduates have traditionally supported the Conservatives, while university graduates have traditionally supported the progressive options, particularly the Liberals). Could this be a sign that Canada’s “elite” are growing weary of the anti-intellectualism and indifference – even hostility – to professionalism and science evident in some of the conservative movement in Canada? All of this remains important to watch.

Another interesting finding is that the “orange fever” that has gripped Alberta predates the provincial election (and was not the product of some last-minute shift). At the federal level, the NDP have been steadily gaining ground in Alberta for some time. In February, the federal NDP were polling in the low-to-mid teens in Alberta. Since then, they have enjoyed a slow but steady rise and now stand at 27 points. While none of the week-to-week movements have been statistically significant in and of themselves, the overall trend is very much real and significant.

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Finally, the Alberta election has shown that a motivated center-left can move en masse to produce some pretty shocking results. In Alberta, the NDP were the most plausible non-conservative rallying point for what became a traffic-light coalition of Liberal, NDP, and Green Party supporters. It is unclear how this election will affect voters’ strategic impulses at the federal level. Nearly 70 per cent of voters are distributed over the four center and left options. For now, the Liberals are seen as the best progressive option, but by a much less decisive margin than the Alberta NDP.

Liberals make progress on clarity; lose ground on best plan for country

In this release, we updated our tracking on which party has the best and clearest plan. Earlier this week, the Liberals unveiled a major plank of their platform detailing their plan for the middle class. The announcement seems to have had a somewhat polarizing effect. The Liberals have enjoyed a modest uptick in terms of clarity of their plan and are now tied for best poised to deliver the best plan for individual Canadians. However, they seem to have lost credibility on presenting the best plan for the country as a whole, with just 22 per cent of Canadians identifying the Liberals as the best party to do so, five points behind the Conservatives.

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Final comments

It will be important to watch the impacts of the latest Liberal announcements and see of the NDP majority in Alberta has any impact at the federal level over the next week. What is clear is that a massively promoted Conservative budget has largely missed the mark and the Conservatives are falling back, not moving forward.

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 April 29-May 5, 2015. In total, a random sample of 3,017 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-1.8 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 (May 8, 2015)

3 comments to Budget Fails to Propel Conservatives

  • Ken

    I will be curious to what the polling will be after the Liberals supported a flawed bill C-51 that a vast majority of Canadians are opposed to.

  • Tom Cullenbest policies

    I think it would be very useful to add another equally important question to “who would you vote for?” i.e. “Which party has the best policies?”

    For example, I would answer Liberal to the first as the Liberal candidate has the best chance to defeat my CPC MP, even though I am not in favour of many of their positions. I would answer Green to the second question, as they have by far the best set of policy positions.

  • Bud

    “… we believe that the results reflect a broader transformation seen throughout Canada…”

    Would love to believe this but I do not. The Alberta election is better seen simply as a split vote on the right. The majority of Albertans wanted either a conservative or very conservative government.

    I have not had the chance to read much as I am out of country, but most articles on the election seem to be interpreting this, like you, as a cultural shift. To me this just shows how blind we are to the numbers and what our archaic first past the post electoral system really means. In a more democratic Canada, there would be a coalition and the Wild Rose party would lead it. But we do not live in a very democratic Canada.

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