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Political Landscape on Verge of Potential Election

THE LINKAGES TO THE VACCINE ROLL-OUT

[Ottawa – July 23, 2021] As Canadians begin to seriously ponder the end of the biggest crisis in modern history, they are hearing increased chatter about an imminent election. In this brief update, we look at the current voter landscape and recent shifts. What do they tell us about the range of possible outcomes of an election? We also thought that, given the salience of this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, we would connect voting intentions to the issue of vaccine roll-out and the possible end of the pandemic. These linkages are important and could become a force in shaping the final outcome of a possible election.

We are going to present two different roll-ups of our ongoing polling. The first will be a large eight-day roll. The larger roll provides much more reliable data to show regional and demographic patterns due to the larger sample size (n=1,934). We will also provide a more recent three-day roll which gives a sense of whether there are any movements of note occurring. In fact, the more recent three-day roll points to a narrowing race which may or may not be a real movement.

At 35 points, the Liberals hold a nearly eight-point lead over the second-place Conservative Party, who remain at 28 points, well below their 2019 election standing. While not a massive lead, the distribution of the Liberals’ support puts them well within reach of a majority. However, when we narrow our focus to the final three days of our polling, this advantage narrows to just five points – a win for sure, but likely not a majority. This gap suggests that the race has been tightening over the past week. We are sure if we are looking at a real shift, but we will certainly be monitoring it.

There is no clear reason why the race may be narrowing; however, looking at the regional patterns, the decline in Liberal fortunes seems to be focussed primarily in Ontario. If we were to hazard a guess as to what is behind these movements (assuming these movements are real), we would speculate that they are linked to pandemic-related frustrations; the sense that the pandemic is drawing to an end seems to be producing confusion and sparking debates about concluding restrictions and the implementation of vaccine passports. As the Liberals weigh the merits of an election, they will no doubt want to keep a close eye on Ontario.

Returning to the eight-day roll-up, we see that the Liberals hold comfortable leads in Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. The Conservatives maintain a huge lead in Alberta and Saskatchewan but are struggling to make inroads elsewhere. The Liberals hold a commanding lead with women but are statistically tied with the Conservatives among men. The Liberals would enjoy a decisive majority if voting were limited to university graduates, while the Conservatives lead with the high school educated.



Nationally, the NDP is showing signs of life, but they are stuck below 20 points. The party does comparatively better with women and British Columbians, and they are tied for the lead with Canadians under 35. At five points, the Green Party has fallen to a six-year low, a decline that is undoubtedly linked to the ongoing shemozzle and outright conflict in the top ranks of the party.

Link to the COVID-19 pandemic

As a closing note, we would like to comment on how federal vote intention links to the pandemic. The vaccine rollout has proceeded at a very rapid pace in Canada and clear majorities of voters from across the political spectrum have received their vaccines. However, the remaining division between those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t reveals some significant partisan fault lines.

When it comes to vaccine uptake, Conservative supporters are 10 points behind Liberal and NDP supporters. The People’s Party, meanwhile, is more than 30 points behind. Even more importantly, among the residual proportion of the population that has not yet been vaccinated, Conservative and People’s Party supporters are more likely to say they do not plan to get vaccinated.

Turning to the issue of vaccine passports – a measure that has been successful in other jurisdictions in encouraging those who have not been vaccinated to do so – support outweighs opposition by a margin of more than two-to-one. But vaccine passports too have become politicized, as we see rising evidence of fault lines between Conservatives and other party supporters. Vast majorities of Liberal and NDP supporters favour the measure, while support is nearly 20 points lower among Conservatives. Given the polarization on the matter, what should be a public health issue may very well become an election issue.

Methodology:

This survey 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 July 14-21, 2021. In total, a random sample of 1,934 Canadians aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 2.2 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, and region to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

Please click here for a copy of the questionnaire that was used for this survey.

Please click here for a copy of the data tables.

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