Election 2015: Conservatives edge forward leaving NDP and Liberals locked in second-place tie

Election 2015: Conservatives edge forward leaving NDP and Liberals locked in second-place tie

Vast uncommitted voters may cause white-knuckle finish, say they’ll lock in choices “just before” Oct 19

October 1, 2015 – With only 19 days left in the 2015 federal election campaign, a volatile electorate is enabling the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) to begin to shake loose from the Liberals (LPC) and New Democrats (NDP), while the two opposition parties fight it out for second place.

CPC supporters and strategists should stifle angus reid instituteany urges to start popping champagne corks just yet however, as data from this latest public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute also shows voters remain intractably uncommitted in their vote intentions: half say they could change their mind before October 19, and for many of those the choice will run right up to the final days of the campaign.

The Party Standings:

This ARI online poll of just over 2,000 eligible Canadian voters shows the Conservatives have opened a seven-point lead over the LPC and NDP, with the support of 34 per cent of decided voters. Nationally, the NDP now stands at 27 per cent, at the same support level as the Liberals (27%).

Compared to data released by the Institute at the end of August, these survey findings indicate modest increases for the CPC and Liberals of four and three points respectively, while the New Democrats have seen their support decline by fully 10 points over the last month, largely due to softening support among eligible voters in Quebec and Ontario.

The Regional story:

Full regional results are appended to this release. Below, we highlight the current picture in the three most important regional battlegrounds.


Over the past month of the campaign, Quebec voters have been turning steadily away from the NDP, most recently perhaps as a result of the debate over an Ontario Muslim woman’s legal fight to wear the niqab while taking the oath of citizenship, a prospect vehemently opposed in Quebec. The New Democrats’ 16-point decline over the last month puts them fully 10 points back from their 2011 showing here, and  boosts the fortunes of every other main party in Quebec – with the Conservatives, Liberals and once moribund Bloc Quebecois all picking up support, as seen in the graph below:

shachi kurl


In  Canada’s most vote-rich province, meanwhile, recent losses for the NDP are near-direct gains for the Conservatives, up seven points in Ontario, where the NDP are down nine, and the Liberals are statistically unchanged (-1).

october election poll

British Columbia:

The western battleground of BC has seen far less volatility over the last month: the main parties’ standings remain unchanged, with only slight movements in party support.

shachi kurl angus reid institute

An Update on the Uncommitted: When will voters lock in?

This poll asked respondents not only which party they intend to support, but also how certain they are that they will vote for that party — as opposed to changing their mind sometime before election day. We find a great many eligible voters remain casually unattached — indeed, over half are only somewhat certain, or uncertain, as to whether the party they say they’ll vote for today is indeed the party whose candidate they’ll actually cast a ballot for on October 19th.

Among the least “locked in”? Those living in Quebec and Ontario — the two regions showing the biggest shifts in party support over the past middle month of the campaign (see detailed tables at the end of this release), and younger voters.

Two big questions remain – will voters ultimately commit to the party they say they intend to vote for or are leaning towards, and if so when will that happen? On this point, no matter how diligently campaigns work to identify and sway votes, war room strategists, candidates and reporters will all be in for some white-knuckle moments.

Among the almost six-in-ten voters who are leaving themselves at least partly open to changing their minds before October 19 (that is, those who are totally undecided, and those not yet “locked-in”):

  • Three-in-ten (31%) say they’ll make up their mind in the last week of the campaign. This equates to one-in-five (18%) eligible voters overall
  • Another nearly two-thirds (32%) won’t finally make up their minds until just before or on voting day. This equates to another one-fifth (19%) of the overall electorate, as seen in the graph below:

angus reid institute

Strategic Voting:

The issue of “strategic voting” has been receiving a lot of attention in this (so far) very competitive election campaign. On this subject, we find most (55%) voters will not rule out the possibility of voting strategically, described broadly as “shifting your support from a first choice candidate to another who has the better chance of beating the candidate you don’t want to win.”

The concept is very much an “ABC — Anybody but Conservative” phenomenon in the current context — with both Liberals and New Democrats far more likely than Conservative supporters to consider a strategic vote; indeed, roughly one-in-five of both opposition parties’ supporters say this is something they would “definitely consider doing” and another three-in-ten would broadly consider it.

It is to the other opposition party that these strategic voters would be moving: the largest number of potential Liberal and NDP switchers name the other opposition party as their potential alternate, working out to over four-in-ten of each current support base who would at least consider strategically moving to the other opposition party.  The results also show younger and first time voters are much more likely to be open to the possibility of strategic voting, in sharpest contrast to most older voters who would not consider it.

shachi kurl

Leader Momentum:

The notable reversal of fortune for the NDP and leader Thomas Mulcair is visible in the current “momentum scores” — simply the number of voters reporting a worsened opinion over the recent weeks of the campaign from those reporting an improved opinion.

Mulcair has seen a deterioration of 18 points over the last four weeks, from a momentum score of +9 to the current -9. Stephen Harper has seen his momentum score (still in negative territory) improve by about as much: 17 points. The Liberals’ Justin Trudeau remains unchanged as seen in the graph below:

shachi kurl

Best Prime Minister?

As for who voters think would make the best Prime Minister, Harper has made a significant comeback over the mid-stretch of the campaign — and is now back in top spot on this key measure. Mulcair has declined a few points and now trails the incumbent. Trudeau has inched up but still trails (indeed, the Liberal leader is surpassed by “not sure” in this wave of polling):

recent election poll

A Note on Methodology

The data from all survey respondents or “eligible voters” uses standard census-based targets to ensure a national sample that is representative of the adult Canadian population as a whole by key demographics such as region, gender, age and education. All survey results are reported for this total group.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

Shachi Kurl, Senior Vice President: 604.908.1693

Tags assigned to this article: