Ipsos Poll shows 40% of voters think NDP, Liberals, Tories are basically the same. That’s good news for Harper

A new Ipsos poll suggests 4/10 Canadians think the three major political parties are basically the same. From left to right: Darryl Dyck, Sean Kilpatrick, Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press

What’s the difference between the NDP, Liberals, and Conservatives? It seems a good chunk of Canadian voters don’t really know, according to a new Ipsos poll.

And that’s good news for the Conservative party.

The poll conducted on behalf of Global News found 40 per cent of Canadian voters agree that the Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP “are basically the same” despite the leaders’ best efforts at every campaign stop to differentiate themselves from their opponents.

The difficulty is most apparent when voters compare the Liberals and NDP, according to the Ipsos poll. Forty-two per cent of Canadian voters say it’s hard to tell the difference between policies introduced by the two left-leaning parties.

“It’s dominated by what people see on the left, which is increasingly the problem with progressive voters in this country – do I go to the Liberals or do I go to the NDP?” Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, said in an interview Friday.

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Among Liberal and NDP voters, there’s a contingent that has a hard time telling the difference. Thirty-one per cent of NDP voters and 33 per cent of Liberal voters say it’s hard to see the difference. Fifty-four per cent of Tories agree.

And for Stephen Harper, that’s good news because it means progressive voters who want Harper out don’t know the best way of going about it.

The latest Ipsos poll showed a tight race across Canada with the NDP eking out a small 33 per cent of popular support, three more than the Conservatives and four more than the Liberals.

“[Harper] wants them both at about 26, 27. Then they split the vote and he wins,” Bricker said.

The Conservatives won approximately 39 per cent of the popular vote and a majority government during the 2011 election while the progressive vote, split mostly among the Liberals and the NDP, formed the two opposition parties with more popular support but less power.

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In contrast, the Conservatives have differentiated themselves from the other two parties, only 31 per cent say it’s hard to tell the difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives and only 23 per cent have a hard time telling the difference between the NDP and the Conservatives.

Are the parties basically the same as they were ten years ago?

Part of the confusion could stem from how the parties have changed over the last ten years. The Conservatives have been fairly stable over the last decade and the poll reflects that – 68 per cent of respondents told Ipsos the party is basically the same as it was a decade ago.

“The Conservatives, people are the least confused about them,” Bricker said. “For their voters, that’s important because they want them to be consistent in what they thought they were and what they voted for in the past.”

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But that’s not so for the NDP and the Liberals. The NDP has undergone significant change including removing most references to socialism from the party constitution, and a gradual move to the centre of the political spectrum as it looks to win instead of just being the “voice of conscience,” Bricker said.

According to Ipsos, 56 per cent of respondents say the party isn’t the same as it was ten years ago.

“They were perfectly happy being a third party, well that’s changed,” Bricker said.  “And then you have the Liberal party trying to do what they did in the election in Ontario which is to try and move to the left of the NDP and try and upset some of the NDP voters so they’ll move back to the Liberal party.”

Voters are split on how much the Liberal party has actually changed – 50 per cent say the party is basically the same, 50 per cent say it’s changed.

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll was conducted between August 24 and August 26, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel and is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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