Senate Scandal Tightens Political Horse Race

Senate of Canada Scandal engulfs Prime Minister
Senate of Canada

Senate Scandal starting to move polling numbers
Senate Scandal starting to move polling numbers

Toronto, ON – The ongoing Senate scandal has rocked Ottawa and has piqued the interest of Canadians, and while support for the federal Tories has stirred, the scandal has not yet shaken their core, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of CTV. In a two-part poll of over 2,100 Canadians taken between October 16 and 20, and then from October 25 to 28, data reveal that the three-way federal horserace has tightened as the Senate scandal thickens.

If an election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper would receive the support of 30% of decided voters (down 1 point since last week and 2 points since September), while the Liberals and Justin Trudeau would receive 31% of the popular vote (down 2 points since last week and showing no change since September).

The largest beneficiary of the scandal, thus far, appears to be the NDP led by Thomas Mulcair, who would now receive 31% of the decided vote (up 4 points since last week and 5 points since last month). All three of the major, federal political parties are within one percentage point of each other for the first time ever.

The Bloc would receive 6% of the vote nationally (25% in Quebec), which hasn’t changed from last week and is down 1 point from September, and the Green Party and Elizabeth May would receive 2% of the vote (showing no change from last week and down 1 point from September). One percent (1%) of the vote would go to some other party, while 15% remain undecided.

Examining the vote among those who say that ‘nothing short of an unforeseen emergency could stop me from getting to the voting booth and casting my vote’ in the next election, the results show that the Liberals gain a little strength while the NDP vote softens.

The likely voter results reveal a 2-point lead for the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals (32%, up 1 point), ahead of the Harper Conservatives (30%, no change), while the NDP dips 3 points (to 28%) among likely voters.

Examining the overall results by region reveals the following:

  • In Ontario, the Conservatives (33%), NDP (33%) and the Liberals (32%) are in the tightest race across the country.
  • In Quebec, the NDP (32%) and Liberals (30%) are ahead of the Bloc (25%) and the Tories (12%).
  • The NDP (36%) hold an edge over the Conservatives (29%) in British Columbia, with the Liberals (28%) not far behind.
  • A majority (49%) of Albertans still throw their support behind the Conservatives, while support for the NDP (26%) and Liberals (19%) lagging.
  • Conservatives (46%) hold the plurality of support in the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba), with the NDP (29%) and Liberals (24%) well behind.
  • Liberals (55%) hold a solid lead in Atlantic Canada, while the Tories (26%) and NDP (17%) lag significantly.

While the Senate scandal has instigated some movement in vote support, the change has not been significant thus far. Examining the vote count between October 16 to 20 and comparing it with the results of October 25 to 28, there is very little change, with one exception:

Ipsos Reid Poll Senate Scandal

Of particular note is the movement of the NDP over these two weeks, which gained 4 points from the first week of polling to the second. Most of that movement can be explained by gains made in Alberta (26%, up 9 points), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (39%, up 6 points), Ontario (33%, up 6 points) and British Columbia (36%, up 5 points).

Rolling up and merging these two weeks of polling to create a more robust national sample of 2,144 Canadians reveals these national results: 32% Liberals, 30% Conservatives, 29% NDP, 6% Bloc (25% in Quebec), 2% Green Party and 1% some other party. Fifteen percent (15%) of Canadian are undecided.

A poll released yesterday by CTV and Ipsos revealed that three in ten (31%) Conservative supporters disapprove of the way the Harper government has handled the Senate issue, and one quarter (27%) do not believe the Prime Minister when he says he did not know about his former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright writing a personal cheque for $90,000 to pay back Senator Mike Duffy’s inappropriate expenses. This suggests that, while there hasn’t been a significant decline in Tory support as of yet, there is still danger for the Prime Minister and the Tories in the weeks ahead.

Only 30% Believe Harper Government Deserves Re-Election, Yet 40% Approve of His Performance…

Aligning closely with his party’s percentage of the total vote, just 30% believe that the ‘Harper Government has done a good job and deserves re-election’ in 2015, which is exactly the same proportion of Canadians who felt the same the last time they were asked back in July. Seven in ten (70%, no change from July), however, insist that it’s time for another federal party to take over after the next election.

Interestingly, more Canadians approve of the Harper Government’s performance than believe they deserve to be re-elected, suggesting that while some might approve of Harper and his performance they still want change ahead. Four in ten (40%) Canadians ‘approve’ (9% strongly/30% somewhat) of the current government’s performance, compared to six in ten (60%) who ‘disapprove’ (35% strongly/26% somewhat).

Despite all the media buzz surrounding Harper’s handling of the Senate scandal, this approval rating has only dipped 1 point from July (41% Approve vs. 59% Disapprove), revealing a continued, steady approval rating for the Prime Minister in spite of the controversy.

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