Election 2011: Our complicated relationship with politics

In its post-campaign survey and its mail-back survey, the Canadian Election Study tested several ideas about government and politicians.

The government does not care much about what people like me think.

Strongly agree 26.9%
Somewhat agree 38.0%
Somewhat disagree 24.9%
Strongly disagree 8.1%
Don’t know 2.0%

Politicians are ready to lie to get elected.

Strongly agree 44.1%
Somewhat agree 38.9%
Somewhat disagree 10.3%
Strongly disagree 3.7%
Don’t know 2.6%

Those elected to Parliament soon lose touch with the people.

Strongly Agree 14.8%
Agree 51.7%
Disagree 27.3%
Strongly disagree 1.8%
Not Sure 4.4%

So while a majority of respondents were at least fairly satisfied with our democracy, large majorities at least somewhat agree that the government doesn’t care, that politicians are ready to lie and that MPs soon lose touch with their constituents. Furthermore, 56% say the “people in government … waste a lot of the money we pay in taxes.”

At the same time, there are other findings that chip away at this presented cynicism. Just less than 61% disagreed with the idea that “People like me don’t have any say about what the government does” and 65% disagree with the suggestion that “most politicians are corrupt.”

And for all the general displeasure, we still apparently take voting quite seriously: 70.4% said voting is a duty, 70.6% said they’d feel very or somewhat guilty if they failed to vote, 60.8% said they felt entirely or mostly positive about the vote they cast and 98.1% agree that “it is important that people vote in elections.”

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