Our friends at Abacus Data are out with an interesting poll that takes a look at how Canadians feel about the economy and about the ability of federal political parties to manage current and future economic challenges. Bottom line, as I report in our papers today:
while a significant number of Canadians still believe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are best for the economy, many Canadians are just as confident Thomas Mulcair and the NDP or Justin Trudeau and the Liberals could meet any economic challenges.
Abacus Data this morning released full data and tables associated with this poll but let me draw your attention to a new approach Abacus is taking here and, I’m told, will take in some future polls. You will note the sample size for this poll – close to 2,000 — which allows Abacus to break out some of its results by certain types of voters, namely (and I’m using Abacus’ nomenclature here):
- Partisans: Those who say they would not consider voting for any other party but the one they’ve declared for. This would be the “base” for each of the Conservatives, New Democrats and Liberals.
- Swing Voters: Voters who say their vote is up for grabs by anyone. Highly sought after, obviously, by all parties.
- Progressive Non-Partisans: Those who say they would not vote Conservative under any circumstances but could see themselves voting NDP or Liberal.
- Conservative Non-Partisans: Those who say they would never vote NDP under any circumstances but could see themselves voting Conservative or Liberal.
- Populists: Those who say they would never vote Liberal but could see themselves voting Conservative or NDP.
Most often, of course, polling firms break down a given sample by region or by gender and while those subdivisions are useful to help understand each party’s behaviour, this may be at least as and possibly more useful.
For example: We’ve seen the federal NDP recently frame any of their economic and fiscal pronouncements, Question Period lines, and so on around “affordability.” Presumably, “affordability” is a highly populist way of talking about the economy, even an extension of Jack Layton’s metaphor of the “kitchen table” around which working class families would gather to assess their place in the world and their governments interest in helping them secure their place in the world. This framing, presumably, gives them an angle into those Abacus would identify as “populist” CPC-NDP switchers.
To quote from the Abacus commentary:
The point of this exercise is to first demonstrate that voters can view multiple parties and party leaders as acceptable or even good economic managers. This has consequences for the role these opinions can play in affecting voter intention. If voters, for example, in the Progressive non-partisan group view both Trudeau and Mulcair as equally able to manage the economy, then vote choice may come down to another factor such as leadership attributes, candidate selection, or another prominent issue.
Second, by looking at the electorate not as a single uniform group but as one made up of different groups of voters with different intentions and preferences, it becomes clear that just because more people view Stephen Harper and the Conservatives as poor economic managers than the other parties does not mean they cannot be re-elected in 2015. However, the results demonstrate that they will need to work hard to convert almost all those who would consider voting Conservative to actually vote Conservative – especially when 12% of the electorate is open to voting either Conservative or Liberal.