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Changing Voter Trends Across Canada: Age Demographics

By Natalie Pikulski

This blog series aims to analyze federal voting intentions of different demographic groups and compare how they fit or deviate from the national average. The first blog introduced the national trends and the second blog looked at trends among male and female voters. This blog will look specifically at age groups broken down by generation to see if the trends found in the previous demographic groups can be observed. 

There was no consistency in age group breakdowns among polling organizations. Therefore, we created the following generation groups with the adjustments described in the table below. 

Some firms had much larger age ranges than described above which would have skewed the results. We removed Ipsos age groups 34-54 and 55+ when creating the scatter plots as these year differences spanned more than one generation.  

Among Gen ZY voters, the Liberal party was polling between 40% – 55% percent throughout 2016 while the Conservatives stayed around 20% – 30%. Considering that the parties began to overlap in some polls in mid-2018 at 25% – 40%, this was a significant fall for the Liberals and a substantial gain for the Conservatives which led to a tighter overlap in the two parties in 2019 with fewer outlier polls. The current overlap remains in mid-2019 but it appears Liberals are still slipping slightly, giving room for other parties to gain support.

The NDP has been steadily increasing over the past four years among Gen ZY voters, polling between 15% – 30% in 2019, close to Conservative and Liberal levels. The Green Party polled much higher as well, reaching as high as 15% support in 2019.  Compared to the national average, the falling trend in Liberal support is very similar but the Conservatives are polling much lower in Gen ZY while the NDP and Green are much higher. 

The gap between the two top parties observed in Gen YX was smaller than in Gen ZY as the Conservatives initially polled higher and at a larger range (25%-40%) after the election up until early 2018. Liberal support was similar to the previous generation sitting at 40% – 55% for the post-election year and falling to 35%-45% in early 2017. Liberals began to overlap with the Conservatives until early 2019 where the Conservatives rose above to 30% – 40% while the Liberals fell to 25% – 35%. The NDP and Green party has stayed almost stable with a slight increase. The general trends in this age group are similar to the national averages.

Gen X had results very similar to Gen XY having almost the same support percentage levels in terms of where the top two parties started after the election and began overlapping, the eventual Liberal downfall and Conservative rise in 2019, and stable NDP support falling between 10% – 20%. The general national trends can once again be observed in this age group but not as pronounced due to a much smaller sample size that was also the case in Gen XY.

The gap between the Liberals and Conservatives in Young Boomers was quite significant and remained rather stable with the Liberals at 45% – 55% and Conservatives at 25% – 35%. This lasted until late 2016 where the Liberals rapidly declined to 35% – 45% support and the Conservatives rose to 30% – 40%. This support stayed rather stable for 2017 and 2018 with a slight overlap in some polls. The continuous slow rise of the Conservatives put the party ahead with 35% – 45% support in 2019 while Liberals had a sharp decline to 30% – 35%, likely due to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.  

Apart from the two main parties, national trends are not really seen in Young Boomers as the NDP and Green Party are significantly lower in this demographic. The BQ also appears slightly higher compared to the national average and other age groups. 

The Boomer age group had similar trends to Young Boomers with a distinct but smaller gap between Liberals (45% – 55%) and Conservatives (above 30%) in the first year, followed by a 2017-2018 overlap at 35%-45%. Unlike Young Boomers and the national average, the 2019 polls show less of a post SNC-Lavalin scandal Liberal drop, staying stable at 30% – 40%. However, it appears that Conservatives are still slightly ahead in the polls at 35% – 45% in early 2019. 

Compared nationally, the trend is very similar but the initial Liberal and Conservative gap in 2016 was tighter so the overlap occurred much sooner. Similar to Young Boomers, NDP and Green support is very low and appears to be significantly below the national average. 

Moving into the election, it will be interesting to see how the different age groups change and if any parallels will be observed once again. Seeing the same trends over the last few demographic groups explored in the last three blogs will guide us into the fourth and final blog exploring different regions in Canada to see if these similar trends can also be observed.

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.