Federal Conservatives and Liberals in a Dead Heat
Our latest nationwide study of political opinion looked at headline data as well as some probing about the different leaders. This release focuses on the main tracking questions, with the rest to be released in the next few days.
We find a dead heat nationally with the Conservatives at 33%, the Liberals at 32% the NDP at 24%. In BC, the Conservatives have a narrow lead over the Liberals and the NDP. In Ontario, the Liberals and the Conservatives are neck and neck. In Quebec, the NDP enjoys a modest lead over the Liberals.
Not only have vote intentions tightened but so too has the expected outcome of the election. A rising number of people believe the Conservatives may win the next election, with 34% predicting a Liberal win and 33% see the Tories coming out on top. In August 2014, 39% of Canadians believed the Liberals would win compared to only 25% who thought the Conservatives would win the next election.
Along with rising anxiety about the economy, there has been a slight softening of comfort with the direction of the country, which had been rising over the preceding months. And today, 25% say the government deserves to be elected, while 36% say it deserves to be replaced, with 30% “somewhere in between”.
In recent months we had been seeing improvement in Stephen Harper’s reputation. In the latest month’s data, that trend has paused. 34% have a positive view of the PM, while 40% are negative. For Thomas Mulcair, numbers are stable with 29% positive, and 19% negative. For Justin Trudeau, negative opinions have risen over the period from November and positive opinions have declined. He currently finds 34% positive and 31% negative.
According to Abacus Chairman Bruce Anderson:
The results confirm that as the country moved into an election year, the race to win the confidence of the country is tightening. The question of how Canada should participate in the fight with ISIL has been a challenging one for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. While his personal numbers remain better than those of the PM, his advantage has been shaved.
Mr. Harper’s competitive position improved through the last half of last year as confidence in the direction of the country rose. The latest numbers suggest that this momentum has paused, at least for the moment.
Nevertheless the overall picture continues to be largely a story of the Conservative Party looking more competitive with the Liberals. The NDP support level in Quebec remains good, but they face a continued challenge in Ontario, where they are 15 points behind the Liberals.
According to Abacus CEO David Coletto:
Over the past five months we have seen the horse race between the Liberals and Conservatives tighten even as anxiety over the economy rises and fewer Canadians feel good about the direction of the country. But more instructive has been the shift in expectations about who will win the next election. Only five months ago, the Liberals had a 13-point lead over the Conservatives. Today, the gap is all but gone.
The Conservatives have pulled even with the Liberals largely due to the party's success at rebuilding much of the coalition that elected them in 2011. This month, 86% of those who voted Conservative in 2011 say they would vote Conservative if an election was held today. That is 6-points better than in September 2014 when the Tories trailed the Liberals by eight in our tracking. Rebuilding their majority coalition is what the next 8 months is about.
Our survey was conducted online with 1,005 Canadians aged 18 and over from January 26 to January 28, 2015. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Canadians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples.
The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada's population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD. For more information, visit our website at http://www.abacusdata.ca/