Menu Close

Changing Voter Trends Across Canada: Conservative Support Pulls Ahead Among Male Voters

By Natalie Pikulski

The first blog in this four-part series looked at federal polling data from November 7, 2015 to May 4, 2019 to find trends among decided and leaning voters at the national level. This second blog will look at how male and female demographics compare against each other and how they align or deviate from the national average discussed in the previous blog. 

Overall, the polls show a much smaller gap between Conservative and Liberal support in males when compared to females and the national average.

Male support for the Liberal party was around 40% – 50%, slightly ahead of the Conservative party which polled between 30% – 40% since the election until early 2017. At this time, an overlap in party support became much more evident with both parties polling at 30% – 45%. This created a neck and neck race with no clear indication of where most of the voter support was until early 2018 which saw the Conservatives begin to pull ahead of the Liberal party that was on the decline. As of early 2019, the Conservatives appear to be clearly ahead of the Liberals in the polls among the decided and leaning male population, pulling about 40% – 50% support while Liberals are down to about 25% – 35%. 

Support for other third parties like the NDP (10-20%), Green (5-10%), and BQ (5%) remained rather consistent with male voters not showing any significant spikes or increases in support apart from the small growth in Green Party that consistently puts the party closer to 10% support in 2019, similar to national trends. 

For females, the year following the 2015 election, support of the Liberal party was largely stable sitting between 45% to almost 60% in some polls. This indicated a strong support base for the Liberals, especially since the Conservatives were polling between 20% – 30% percent among female voters for most of 2016 and 2017. 

Similar to the male demographic, Liberal support began to significantly decline in late 2016 with a large drop to 40% – 45% in early 2017 that continued to decline. Around this time, the Conservatives saw a slight increase in support that had them at 25% – 30% support and continued to gradually grow up until early 2019 where the large gap in support between the two parties closed with the Conservatives at 30%- 40% and Liberals at slightly above 25% – 40%. 

Unlike the male demographic, the Conservatives have not pulled ahead of the Liberals as support for both parties continues to overlap as we approach the 2019 election. A slight overlap between the two parties at 30% – 40% support began to occur around mid-2018 which was more than a year after the same trend was observed in males. This is likely because the gap between support for the Liberals and Conservatives after the election was significantly greater in females than it was among males. 

Similar to males, female support of third parties (NDP, Green, BQ) remained relatively stable over the last few years apart from a slight growth of the Green Party that has reached almost 15% support in 2019. The Green Party is polling slightly higher among female voters than males. 

Despite the slight differences in polling numbers, a similar trend that follows the national falling Liberal and rising Conservatives can be observed among each gender. The next blog will look at different age groups to see if this general trend can also be observed in different demographic breakdowns.

Changing Voter Trends Across Canada: National Trends

By Natalie Pikulski

Canadians are changing their political support which may mean a change in government come fall. Over the next four blog posts, I will examine federal polling data conducted since the last election held on October 9, 2015, up until May 4, 2019. These blogs will attempt to draw connections between trends observed in different demographic groups, compare them to the national average, and discuss any apparent differences to better understand the changes in public opinion toward the federal government over the last 4 years. The four blogs in this series analyze specific demographic trends, in this order; national overall trends, gender, age-groups, and regions. This first blog will outline general trends seen at the national level for all main political parties.

Polling data included in this blog series is based on weighted samples of decided and leaning voters. Only polls with accessible web links were included in our data collection for accuracy and reproduction purposes. We also ensured the polling questions asked in each poll were consistent with other polling organizations’ questions to allow for equal comparisons. Because of the limitations, all Nanos Research polls were not included since the question had respondents choose their top two choices rather than one choice like all other organizations. 

At the end of 2016, a little over a year since the federal election, Liberal support was steadily declining while Conservative support was rising. This rise and fall led the gap that was significant for the first year after the election between the two parties to close resulting in a neck and neck competition for most of 2018. The Conservatives eventually took a slight lead in 2019. The national polling data on the graph below shows the voting intentions of decided and leaning voters across Canada.

For a little over a year after the election, Liberal support remained steady between 45% to 50% but at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, a noticeable drop to about 35% to 45% support occurred. Although the exact reason is unknown, a considerable number of events occurred around this time that may have individually or cumulatively led to this drop. 

A gradual Conservative increase that began to overlap with the Liberals throughout late 2017 to early 2019 saw the party go from 25% – 35% support before 2017 to 30% – 45% after. The fall and rise of each party allowed for the significant gap following the election to eventually close and overlap for a considerable amount of time. In early 2019, a dramatic slide in Liberal support to about 25% – 35% allowed Conservatives to pull forward reaching 35% to almost 45% support in some polls.

Many commentators (1,2,34,5,6) suggest thatthis fall in Liberal support was due to the SNC-Lavalin scandal becoming headline news at this time which may explain why the drop was so sudden and apparent, but more investigation into these claims ought to be explored before a definitive explanation can be made. 

Other parties to note briefly are the NDP and Green. The NDP national averages are largely consistent with how the party is performing in regions across Canada, continuous and steady support with no real significant fall or rise since 2016, typically maintaining between 10% – 20% support. Support for the Green Party has been rising nationally, reaching 10% in 2019. This is significant as the party has polling even higher than the Bloc Quebecois since 2018 which is significant as they were pulling relatively similar support after the election at around 5% each. The small but still significant spike in Green support in early 2019 will be something to watch during the upcoming election to see if this popular support will translate into winning seats. 

The largest and most apparent trend when analyzing the polling data from the past few years was the significant fall in Liberal support and steady gain of the Conservative vote. The next blog will look at how this fall and gain of Canada’s two main federal parties compare between females and males. 

Part II. A decade of euphoric and resolution

By Sarah Stickland

In the previous blog, I explained that acid rain was in the pre-problem stage in the 1960s and that the public became concerned about acid rain in the 1980s.  This blog post will go over the policies the federal government implemented to reduce acid rain and an example of an industry implementing change.

In the 1970s the government implemented policy’s to reduce acid rain as a means to improve the air quality. The federal government created reduction targets.  By the late 1970s the federal government worked with the provinces to create a reduction plan. The reduction plan in 1983 was to reduce the about of sulphates in precipitation to less than 20 kg per hectare per year. Reference. The Federal government, under Prime Minister Mulroney, instituted the Canadian Acid Rain Control Program in 1985. The Canadian Acid Rain Control Program had three mandates: set targets and schedules to reduce emissions, develop new technologies to reduce emissions, and research and monitor emissions. Reference.  However, the industry were ahead of the government with technological advancements in the 1960s. Industries were reducing concentration of sulphur that went into the processing to lower the cost of production (Buhr 1998). Coincidently, there was an environmental benefit occurring at the same time, acid rain was slowing becoming resolved. The public acknowledged that there was a correlation between the industry reducing sulphur in production and reduction of acid rain. Industry’s continued to meet government reduction targets because it looked good for public image.

Figure 2: Canadian Sulphur Dioxide Emission (Source Canadian Government Report)

An example of an industry making changes is Falconbridge. Falconbridge is a smelting company in Sudbury, Ontario. Falconbridge created the Smelter Environmental Improvement Project to reduce sulphur in processing. One of the methods Falconbridge tried was a nickel-iron refinery and a pyrrhotite treatment plant, however it was unsuccessful because of economic reasons (Buhr 1998). Falconbridge was successful at maintaining below government regulations on sulphur dioxide per year.

Therefore, policymakers can control the public’s attitude about an issue. This is evident with the case of acid rain in Canada. Acid rain was problem long before the publics was focused on resolving the issue. The public entered the euphoric stage in the issue attention cycle after the federal government began implementing regulations to reduce emissions. Acid rain was resolved in the 1990s because the public become concerned and the demonstrated that it was an issue that the government needed to focus on through public opinion polls.  In other words, acid rain successfully went through the attention issue cycle without the public getting discouraged. The trend of the public concern for environmental policy continues into the 1990s with the case of ozone depletion.