Liberals with modest lead on Conservatives

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Liberals with modest lead on Conservatives

Conservative minority seen under new 338 seat distribution

TORONTO January 6th, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1741 Canadian voters, just more than a third (37%) will vote Liberal if a federal election were held today, while one third will vote Conservative (33%). This represents a slight decline for the Liberals since last month (from 41%) but stasis for the Conservatives (December 2014 - 33%). The New Democrats have seen a slight increase in their vote share to a fifth (20%, up from 17%). About one twentieth will vote for the Bloc Quebecois (4%) or the Green Party (5%), while very few will vote other parties (1%).

The Liberal vote is common to Boomers (55 to 64 - 42%), females (39%), the wealthy ($80K to $100K - 43%), in Atlantic Canada (48%) and Ontario (40%), the best educated (post grad - 41%), among Anglophones (39%) rather than Francophones (29%), and among mothers of children under 18 (41%).

The Conservative vote is especially characteristic of Gen X (45 to 54 - 41%), males (37%) rather than females (29%), among the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 40%), in Alberta (51%), and among the less educated (some college or less - 37%).

The Liberal vote is the "stickiest" in that more past Liberal voters will vote their party again this time (81%) than is the case with Conservatives (78%) or New Democrats (54%). In fact, close to one seventh past Conservative voters (15%) and as many as one third of past New Democrats (33%) will vote for the Liberals in the next election.

338 seat distribution leads to Conservative minority

If these results are projected up to represent seats won in the new 338 seat House of Commons, the Conservatives have a slight advantage and, despite not leading in the popular vote, will take minority of 137 to 126 for the Liberals. This would give the Conservatives 33 seats fewer than needed for a majority (170 seats). The NDP would take 70 seats, the Green Party would retain leader Elizabeth May's seat, and Independent André Arthur would win his riding of Portneuf-Jacques Cartier.

Liberals expected to win election, despite seat projections

When asked who they expected to win the election, rather than who they were voting for, the answers are very similar, and close to 4-in-10 put their faith in the Liberals (38%), while about one third expect the Conservatives to prevail (34%). Few expect the NDP (8%), Bloc Quebecois (2%) or Green Party to win (4%). One tenth of Conservative voters expect the Liberals to win (10%) and a similar proportion of Liberals expect the Conservatives to win (12%). The New Democrats this time around expect the Liberals to win (37%) more than they expect their own party to do so (28%). About one fifth expect the Conservatives to win (18%).

Harper, Mulcair favourables stable; Trudeau favourables down

Both Prime Minister Harper and Tom Mulcair have seen their approval levels stay stable since the end of last year (34% and 42%, respectively, both then and now) and their net favourable scores (approve minus disapprove) have not changed (- 22 and +13, respectively then; -22 and +14 now). Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, has seen his approval decline from close to half (46% in December 2014) to 4-in-10 now (42%) and his net score has declined from +10 to +5.

Plurality agrees Canada worse off now than a year ago

Close to 4-in-10 voters agree Canada is worse off this year than last (38%), while about one half this proportion think the country is better off (20%). Four-in-ten also agree that the country is neither better nor worse off (38%). Very few don't have an opinion on this important measure (5%). This is comparable to results found three years ago when we last asked this question (April 2012, 37% worse off, 21% better off). Results, predictably, break along partisan lines, and close to one half of Conservative supporters think the country is better off now (44%), while a similar proportion of Liberals (45%) and New Democrats (49%) think Canada is worse off.

Fewer now see Canada becoming more small "c" conservative

The plurality agree Canada is becoming a more small "c" conservative country (38%), well down from the majority three years ago (April 2012 - 57%). In the meantime, the proportion saying it is becoming more small "l" liberal has increased from one fifth (18%) to one quarter (25%). Nowadays, one quarter think the country is changing neither way (26%), while one tenth don't have an opinion (11%). Conservative voters are more likely to see the country becoming more small "c" conservative (45%) than think it is becoming more small "l" liberal (20%), whereas Liberal voters are split on the issue (36% small "c", 34% small "l"). New Democrats agree with Conservatives that Canada is becoming more conservative (40%) rather than more liberal (25%).

One half see Canada moving in the wrong direction

One half the voters in Canada believe the country is moving in the wrong direction (50%) compared to one third who think it is moving in the right direction (32%). This mirrors findings from three years ago (April 2012, wrong direction - 53%, right direction - 33%). One fifth now feel the country is moving in neither the right nor wrong direction (18%), while none have no opinion. Once again, results break along partisan lines, and Conservative voters are much more likely to see the country moving in the right direction (72%) than the wrong direction (14%), while the opposite is true for Liberal voters (21% right direction, 62% wrong direction) and New Democrats (15% right direction, 67% wrong direction).

"While the Liberals still lead, it's a more modest kind of parity than we've seen recently. In addition, it's clear the new thirty seat distribution favours the Conservatives; they stand to win a small minority despite trailing slightly in the popular vote. It is interesting in other findings, to see that, while voters are still just as likely to think the country is moving in the wrong direction and that it's worse off now than last year, the proportion saying it is becoming more conservative has declined significantly. This is an important change in public sentiment, and is an indicator of the swing to the Liberals we have seen in the last year," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.