Voters are heading into Election Day more angry and apathetic about going to the polls than they were at the start of the campaign, a new poll suggests, making the result more uncertain than ever before.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found more than two-thirds of voters surveyed — 69 per cent — feel the election should not have been called in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s up 13 points from when the election was called, which pollsters say they have not seen before.
“The why and the when this election was called has blotted out the sun for anything else that’s occurred in this campaign,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
He said voters typically get over their frustrations quickly and accept that a campaign is underway. Instead, the pandemic has created the opposite environment, which has dogged Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party as they struggle to defend calling an election.
Notably, 60 per cent of Liberal voters agreed that now is not the time to be choosing a new government.
“What we’re hearing from respondents is they have a desire to get to something that looks like normal,” Bricker said.
“They just feel that it’s inappropriate to be forced to consider political consequences during a time in which they’re dealing with really practical issues.”
That anger — and voters’ search for clarity on what the next stage of the pandemic will look like — has led to a growing sense of apathy towards the political parties, the poll suggests.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they don’t like any of their options in this election, up 11 points since the start of the campaign.
Ipsos surveyed over 2,000 Canadian voters last weekend online and over the phone.
Conservative advantage at ballot box?
The results found that among the 62 per cent of voters who say they are certain they will vote on Monday, Conservative and Bloc Quebecois voters were most likely to insist they will show up to the polls.
Similarly, Conservative and Bloc voters were also more likely to say they are committed to their choice, with Liberal, NDP and Green voters slightly less sure. Overall, just 53 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they are certain of who they’ll vote for.
The NDP, meanwhile, may have the biggest opportunity to attract last-minute votes, with one in four Canadians picking the party as its second choice. Between 10 and 13 per cent chose one of the other major parties.
Despite all that, 36 per cent of respondents believe the Liberals will win the election, compared to 25 per cent saying the Conservatives will come out on top. Nearly one in three Canadians said they don’t know who will win.
“Calibrating (which voters are more motivated) is pretty difficult,” said Bricker.
“If Conservatives are really motivated by the idea of having a shot at Justin Trudeau this time, their turnout could be pretty similar to what we’ve seen in previous elections. While Liberals may think, ‘God, I’m really not that enthusiastic about voting for the Liberal Party this time,’ it could be lower than they expect.”
How voters cast their ballot may also play a role. The poll suggests NDP voters are most likely to vote by mail compared to other parties, with 13 per cent saying so compared to eight per cent of Liberal voters and just three per cent of Conservatives.
About a quarter of NDP and Green voters also disagreed that voting in person will be safe — the highest number among decided voters — suggesting the parties could see less votes than hoped for. Overall, 22 per cent of Canadians said in-person voting is unsafe.
Bricker says the final days of the campaign will be focused on convincing those voters to show up, with all parties aiming to further motivate anyone who may be on the fence.
“Elections are all about emotions,” he said. “In this campaign, the dominant emotions right now are anger and fear.
“So that’s the question: are the angry more motivated than the fearful?”
Majority versus minority
With the Liberals’ hopes for a majority government slipping away, 59 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they will be happy with a minority after this election — a feeling most strongly held by coalition parties like the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.
Even so, four of 10 respondents said a majority would be the best result, while a third said a minority would be the best choice.
If the Liberals don’t end up leading that minority government, nearly 60 per cent of Canadians feel Trudeau should resign as Liberal leader, with — 59 per cent — saying he should resign if he doesn’t capture a majority.
Half of Canadians surveyed said Erin O’Toole should resign as Conservative leader if his party doesn’t win the election, compared to just 37 per cent who said the same of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 10 and 13, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 2,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. A sample of n = 1,501 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. A sample of n = 500 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed by live-interview telephone interviewers by landline and cellphone, using random-digit dialing. Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here: https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/