National Federal Vote Intention
Conservatives: 36 (+2)
Liberals: 24 (-1)
NDP: 19 (-)
Green: 11 (-)
Bloc Quebecois: 10 (-)
Commentators sometimes talk as if everyone who doesn’t vote Conservative wants them to lose. Not so. When our respondents were asked to choose among four options — Tory majority, Tory minority, Liberal minority or Liberal majority – almost half (49%) preferred a Conservative government of some kind, compared with just 42% who preferred a Liberal government.
But paradoxically, when asked what the worst outcome of an election would be, nearly half again (47%) said that would be a majority Tory government. This negativity is very strongly pronounced in all camps save Conservative supporters. This may help explain the see-saw pattern of the campaign to date, with Canadians reigning in the Conservatives when they seem to be headed for a majority.
Although most Canadians expect a minority government, they are not inclined to see formal alliances or coalitions emerge after the election. In many democracies where majorities are uncommon, in Europe for example, smaller parties forge coalitions of several parties to secure a majority.
But that’s not how Canadians like it.
Fewer than one in five Canadians say they favour this kind of formal arrangement, which has not been seen in Canada on the national level for more than half a century, though it has happened in some provinces.
Seventy-three percent of Canadians prefer less formal arrangements, where different collections of parties get together on particular pieces of legislation – the “system” that has prevailed during the Martin and Harper minorities.
When forced to choose a particular alliance they would prefer, the most popular was a Liberal-NDP alliance, though support even for that was tepid: 33%. No other combination of partiers won support from even a fifth of Canadians.
Twenty-two percent of Canadians are prepared to say they will take the party standings into account before they cast their ballot. Unsurprisingly, poll consumption (and strategic voting) is lowest in Alberta where using polls to predict the outcome is akin to measuring a hot dog with a micrometer.
But most of us are uneasy – downright uncomfortable – with the role polls play in our elections.
Half of Canadians say they think the polls tend to reduce elections to horse races, and in that way weaken the democratic process. Thirty-seven percent say the polls give them useful information that helps them make choices.