Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Voter Profiles

Thanks to the incredibly detailed EKOS poll from earlier this week, we're able to determine what kind of voter each party attracts. You might be surprised by some of the results.

The Conservative voter is male, over 45 (and even more heavily over 65), does not live in Quebec, and is economically well off. Those who make more than $80,000 per year are especially enamored with the Tories (38.4%), but the middle class ($40,000 to $80,000) also lean slightly more towards the Tories than the average. Out of the five major metropolitan regions, the Conservative voter is most likely to live in Calgary or, to a lesser extent, Ottawa-Gatineau. There are some regional variations to this profile, however. In Atlantic Canada, the Conservative voter tends to be younger and more middle-class than the rest of the country.

The Liberal voter can be either female or male, but is slightly more likely to be female. He or she is 45 years old or older, and more likely to be over the age of 65. He or she is economically well-off, with the $80,000+ group most heavily weighted. The Liberal voter is less middle-class than the Conservative voter. He or she likely lives in Vancouver, Toronto, or Ottawa-Gatineau. The Liberal voter is more regionally varied, however. In British Columbia, the Prairies, and Ontario, he is male. In Alberta, she is under the age of 25 and middle-class. The Liberals do better amongst the youth in Alberta likely because the Conservatives are the "establishment", and it is more rebellious to be a Liberal here than anywhere else in the country.

The New Democratic voter is female, under the age of 25 and to a lesser extent between the ages of 25 and 44, and makes less than $40,000 per year. She is most likely to live in Vancouver. In Quebec, however, the NDP voter is slightly more likely to be male, and in Atlantic Canada she is middle-aged and more middle-class.

The Green voter is a lot like the NDP voter. She is female, under the age of 25 or perhaps middle-aged, and makes less than $40,000 per year. She is most likely to live in Toronto. In Quebec and Atlantic Canada, however, the Green voter is male.

The Bloc voter is slightly more likely to be female. She is between the ages of 25 and 64 and is middle-class, and probably lives in Montreal.

When you take all of this into account, it is easy to see where the battle lines are drawn. The Tories do well amongst males while the New Democrats and Greens do best amongst females. The Liberals and the Bloc are more gender neutral, and are thus either fighting the Conservatives for the male vote or the NDP and Greens for the female vote. The Conservatives and Liberals are the choice of older people, while the NDP and Greens are the choice of younger people. The Conservatives and Liberals wrestle over the upper class vote while the NDP and Greens fight over the lower class. Each party has its niche, and all have to dip in the large pool of middle aged and middle class voters to make gains. "Establishment" voters, people who vote for the Liberals or Conservatives, are older and richer. "Opposition" voters, people who vote for the New Democrats or Greens, are younger and poorer. It all aligns very well to the political spectrum.

One exception is the Bloc Quebecois. Unlike any other party, they are not the domain of any one group. Only a few more females than males choose them, and they are the favourite party of people who aren't very young or very old, and who aren't very poor or very rich. The "average" person in Quebec, thus, is a Bloc Quebecois voter. Only when you go to the extremes of age and class do you find the other parties doing better. It seems to me an interesting demonstration of how the Bloc Quebecois is less of an "interest" party than the other four. Aside, of course, from Quebec's interests.

These results show, in part, why the Liberals and Conservatives are the parties likely to form government. Older people vote for them, and older people vote in greater numbers. Richer people vote for them, and richer people can donate more money. The NDP and Greens are at a distinct disadvantage because their support comes from people who vote less and financially contribute to parties less. It is a formula for perpetual opposition.


  1. Éric, You write of "the Conservative voter" or the "NDP voter" or the "Green voter", for example. However, maybe the better term (and here I'm thinking of the last case) is the "Liberal respondent" or the "Green respondent".

    This is because not all the Green support in polls translates to the ballot box, and it might be interesting to look at the differences between respondents to opinion research surveys and actual Green voters when the data from the Canadian Election Study (kind of like the academic exit poll of the election) comes out, as it's scheduled to do on October 14, 2009.

    Do you believe we would find any meaningful differences between those two groups in their case? Because one of the major strategic questions for the Green party is how to translate poll support into electoral support.

  2. That's a good question. But the profile of the Green voter I've described sounds "right" to me, which leads me to believe that a lot of the bleeding of support probably comes from those outside of the core Green demographic.


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