by Angus Reid | October 15, 2019 12:31 pm
October 15, 2019 – As party leaders begin the final week of Canada’s 43rd federal election campaign, they do so experiencing an unsettling case of déjà vu.
While the last month has featured twists and turns on the hustings, it has done little to enable either of the front-running parties to pick up the momentum required to find themselves within striking distance of a majority government.
The latest polling data from the non-partisan, not-for-profit Angus Reid Institute shows the Conservative Party – which has held a narrow lead since the writs were drawn – losing forward thrust.
The CPC has yielded four points in vote intention since the beginning of the month and is now the choice of one-third (33 per cent) of decided voters. The incumbent Liberals, meanwhile, find themselves stuck in position once again, with the backing of three-in-ten (29 per cent).
The NDP continues to make marginal but consistent gains. Now the preferred party of nearly one-fifth (19 per cent) of the electorate, it has picked up five points overall since the beginning of October.
While this, last storyline has dominated the headlines in a campaign often found in want of a substantive narrative, it is important to note that where the NDP stands today largely represents the percentage of popular vote it garnered once the ballots had been counted in 2015. In other words, while the party has picked up significant support in British Columbia, it’s also lost support to the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec, and now stands essentially where it did four years ago.
The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.
For the better part of 2019, the top issue facing the country according to Canadians has been climate change. Throughout the campaign that continued to be the case, and as Canadians head to the polls, climate change sits atop the list of issues that voters – especially swing voters – would like to see dealt with. But there are other issues, driven largely by where on the political spectrum Canadians sit.
At least half of all Green, NDP and Liberal supporters say that climate change is among their top two issues, while for Conservatives, fiscal issues including personal taxation and the federal deficit are top of mind.
As advanced voting continues and is enthusiastically embraced, there is no clear-cut favourite. With discussions of minority government compositions already underway, it is the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois who appear to be benefitting from the Conservatives’ and Liberals’ inability to break through with the electorate.
The Conservative Party maintains a slight lead amid diminishing total support, as the second place Liberal Party also appears to suffer late-campaign morass. One-in-three Canadians (33%) say they will support the CPC next Monday, or have already in advanced polls, while 29 per cent say the same of the incumbent Liberals. The New Democrats, meanwhile, continue to climb the ranks, up to 19 per cent of current vote intention:
Ontario continues to be not only the most important region of the country for the parties hoping to form government, but also among the most deadlocked. The Conservative and Liberal parties have yet to be separated by more than four percentage points in this campaign and head into the final week tied. Currently, 34 per cent of Ontario residents say they will support the CPC, the same number who will support the LPC. One-in-five (20%) say they will vote for the NDP:
To the chagrin of the Green Party – and perhaps the increasing panic of the governing Liberals – the NDP has enjoyed notable gains in support in British Columbia. New Democrats have gone from trailing the party of Justin Trudeau by nearly ten points just two weeks ago to vaulting into a tie for second place. The CPC have held the vote intention of one-in-three BC residents throughout the campaign and remain in that range, while the New Democrats now draw support from one-in-four (26%). The Liberal Party also garners the support of 26 per cent. Should this trend hold, the “West Coast bonus” the Liberals earned in 2015 will be lost, putting the Liberals path to a majority government (arguably out of reach even today) firmly out of reach.
While the NDP’s ascent in recent weeks has dominated much of the national campaign conversation in English Canada, the story of battleground Quebec is the story of the blooming Bloc Quebecois.
The Bloc has capitalized on a lack of support for the NDP relative to the latter party’s 2015 showing, and wilting interest in the Liberals and Conservatives. Both latter parties had looked to make gains in la belle province. The BQ now holds the support of one-in-three Quebecers (32%). By contrast, the Liberals began the campaign with Quebec its only “safe” province, and now battles the Bloc with 29 per cent of the popular vote:
The CPC hold a significant advantage in Alberta, and in the Prairies, while leading in Atlantic Canada. Again, this last point represents troubling news for the Liberal Party, which swept the East Coast in 2015. As with the situation in British Columbia, the Liberals now find themselves fighting to limit a critical loss of seats.
The final chapter of the 43rd Canadian federal election will be written next week, and the text of the story will depend largely on voter turnout. Each of the major federal parties has strengths and weaknesses when viewed through age and gender demographics, but some segments of voters are historically more reliable than others when it comes to actually casting ballots.
While the Conservative Party’s support has diminished over the past weeks, it remains strong with older voters, both male and female. Based on historical trends, these voters over the age of 55 are most likely to show up to the polls next Monday, or during advance voting. Projections for the Liberal Party and NDP are slightly less stable, as their potential voters are more likely to be younger. Stronger voter turnout would play in both parties’ favour. Voter participation among 18-to-34-year-olds in 2015 was considerably higher than the 2011 election, driving much of the Liberal Party’s success. Whether their participation is a new trend, or an isolated event, remains to be seen.
As Canadians have sized up individual leaders over the course of the campaign, the only beneficiary of improved public opinion has been the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. When assessing each leader’s net momentum score (the number of Canadians whose opinion of a leader has improved minus those who say their opinion has worsened) Singh is the only one who scores positively nationwide. Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francoise Blanchet scores similarly, but as the party is only running candidates in Quebec, only among residents there.
Singh’s personal favourability has improved with every age and gender group. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau has at least a -22 score with each group and Andrew Scheer scores positively with only men over the age of 55:
Indeed, it has been a disappointing campaign for both Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau from the personal appeal perspective. Scheer has lost several points since early September, while Trudeau has remained consistently stuck.
*in this wave, approval was asked, not favourability
As has been the case throughout the campaign, while most Canadians have a party in mind for their vote, far fewer have absolutely locked in.
With election day approximately a week away, just half of Canadian voters (52%) say they are absolutely locked in to support one specific party. Thus, the vote result on October 21 will depend on personal calculations in the final days. On this front, the Conservatives hold the advantage: vote certainty among their supporters remains highest, while the NDP’s late momentum appears subject to change based on the fluidity of their supporters. The same phenomenon is seen among Green supporters, and to a lesser extent, among Liberal supporters.
With voting already underway, whether this continued uncertainty results in switching of votes, or vacillating members of the electorate ultimately opting to stay home, remains to be seen:
Adding to the mix and machinations of what voters do, only one-in-five (20%) say that they do not have a fallback option in this election. If indeed Canadians do go with a second choice, the NDP appears to stand to gain the most, with one-quarter saying they would vote for that party (27%). The Green Party also represents plan B for close to one-in-five (17%).
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