Election Issues: The Economy and Ethics Top the List

A new national survey by Ottawa-based Abacus Data finds when Canadians are given a list of specific election issues, managing the economy and government trust and ethics lead 12 other issues tested.

Over six in ten respondents (65%) said that management of the economy would be very important to deciding who they would vote for while 60% said that government ethics and trust would be very important.

“This election is about the economy and it’s about government ethics and trust,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.  “Although we didn’t ask specifically about health care, three in ten Canadians said that finding a family doctor was important to their vote.”

Other important issues identified by at least four in ten Canadians included protecting the environment (39%), dealing with poverty among seniors (47%), keeping taxes low (46%), protecting pensions (46%), and Canada’s reputation in the world.

Respondents were shown a list of 14 issues and asked to select as many or as few that they consider very important to helping them decide how to vote.  After being asked which issues were important, respondents who selected an issue where asked which federal party, if any, is best at dealing with the issue.  It is on this question that we see clear areas of strength for the three major parties.

“The Conservative Party is seen as the best able to deal with the economy, to keep taxes low, and to reduce crime by voters who care about those issues,” said Coletto.  “The Liberal Party is strongest when it comes to Canada’s reputation in the world, as the party best able to defeat Stephen Harper, and on issues around post-secondary education.”

The NDP leads on its core policy areas: poverty among seniors, protecting pensions, and finding a family doctor.

“Until the NDP improves voter confidence in its ability to manage the economy and to be a change agent capable of defeating Stephen Harper, it will be difficult for it to consolidate Conservative Party detractors,” said Coletto.  “Right now, for voters who want Stephen Harper defeated, 77% think the Liberal Party is the best vehicle to achieve that goal.”

The survey also found that no party has a distinct advantage on ethics and trust.  However, the Tories trail the NDP and Liberals by around 10 percentage points among people who care about the issue.

Download the report here.

Between April 11 and 15, 2011, Abacus Data Inc. conducted an online survey among 1,005 randomly selected Canadian adults from an online panel of over 75,000 Canadians. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is comparable to +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.

Results of the survey were statistically weighted by gender, age, region, immigrant status, and education using census data from Statistics Canada and by past vote using Elections Canada results from the 2008 General Election. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.