Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Issues Poll

EKOS recently released a set of poll results about various issues facing Canadians today. They say its intent is to provide a more formal assessment of these issues than the recent polls released by the Manning Centre.

Let's take a look at their results, with special attention paid to how supporters of the various parties see things.First, crime. This poll shows that prevention (36%) and punishment (30%) are what Canadians see most as the two main goals of the criminal justice system. Rehabilitation (18%) and deterrence (16%) are the main goals for fewer people.

Conservative supporters are most likely to see punishment (42%) as the main goal of the justice system, well ahead of prevention and deterrence (24% each). Only 11% see rehabilitation as the main goal of the system.

Liberals see things different, with 45% believing prevention is the main goal of the system, followed by rehabilitation (23%). Punishment is the main goal for only 20% of Liberal supporters.

This is a good demonstration of how the two parties view the issue of crime. Conservatives tend towards "tough on crime" measures, while Liberals are looking more towards "smart on crime" measures, as they like to say.

New Democrats are relatively split, with 33% believing it is prevention that is the main goal, 27% rehabilitation, and 26% punishment. This is likely a reflection of the different kind of NDP supporters that exist: urban voters on the one hand and Western CCF-style voters on the other.

Greens are also split, while Bloc Québécois supporters view prevention (45%) and punishment (32%) as the two main goals.

Related to this issue is that of capital punishment. Canada doesn't use this form of punishment, but several nations still do, including the United States. Canadians aren't in favour of bringing it back, however. Forty-six percent are against its re-introduction, while 40% are for it. Compared to ten years ago, the amount of people against capital punishment is growing.

As you'd think considering their views on the justice system, 53% of Conservatives support the re-introduction of capital punishment. Liberals are most against it, with 60% opposing its re-introduction. New Democrats aren't far behind with 52% against.

Another crime issue looked into by EKOS is whether possession of small amounts of marijuana should be a crime or not. While 30% believe it should be a crime, 50% believe it shouldn't. This is a growing proportion of Canadians.

Conservatives are most likely to still see this as a crime, with 41%. New Democrats are most for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, at 63%. Green (59%) and Bloc (58%) supporters agree.

Now, on to two other issues.Canada has come a long way, and now only 28% of Canadians oppose same-sex marriage. Those who support it now number 53%. Decideds on the issue split 65-to-35 in support of same-sex marriage.

Not surprisingly, 40% of Conservatives are against SSM, the highest among the parties. It finds most support among Bloc and Green voters (66%), as well as New Democrats (63%) and Liberals (60%). It seems that the issue is, for all intents and purposes, off the radar. Not even a majority of Conservatives are against it.

Finally, abortion. The Manning Centre made political hay out of this issue, but EKOS finds that the Manning Centre's results were a little skewed. It's all in the question, and EKOS asked their's bluntly.Only 27% of Canadians consider themselves "pro-life", while 52% consider themselves pro-choice. If we wanted to take it to the level of people who are decided on the issue, 68% are pro-choice.

Conservatives have the most pro-lifers, but still only 37%. Most New Democrats (62%), Bloc voters (61%) and Greens (59%) are pro-choice.

This EKOS poll clearly indicates that Canadians are not, as the Manning Centre argued, becoming more right-wing. That the Manning Centre's results were refuted should come as no surprise.


  1. Its obvious the Manning Centre's numbers would be refuted - it definitely isn't hard to fight back against its implicit bias. Some of the work of the Manning Centre is useful, but when they put out polls they know are biased in some pretty major ways, you tend to lose respect.

    Anyways, I'm surprised at NDP split on views of the justice system. I know they're different insofar that they have their "gospel socialist" Western members, and the progressive urban members, but that is really quite a split. especially considering how much the NDP has really shifted its priorities and base over the years.

  2. Lets see,

    Most Canadians, prefer to be "Smart on Crime"

    Most Canadians, are for SSM.

    Most Canadians are "Pro Choice"

    Most Canadians do not see possession of small amounts of marijuana as a crime.

    Most Canadians do want the reintroduction of the death penalty.

    That is the positions of most Liberal, NDP, BLOC, and Green supporters.

    The CPC wonders why they can't garner a majority?

    The Manning centre poll was a crock of beans.

    This is not a conservatice leaning country.

    Stephen Harper, is out of step with the vast majority of Canadians.

  3. I like how the abortion section labels the groups both by the names they prefer for themselves.

    Also, I'm a little surprised and pleased at the news that a majority of the Canadians are not in favor of the death penalty.

    Regarding the justice system section, I'm having trouble really defining Deterrence, or at least seperating that element from the other principles, so I'm not surprised it's last.

  4. I thought deterrence and prevention were a little close, and you could even throw punishment into that.

    Punishment is a deterrent, and deterrence is part of prevention, so it is a little confusing.

  5. There is sort of a difference between Prarie and BC/Eastern views. Alberta and Manitoba/Sask are the only areas which showed plurality support for the "punishment" option in crime, however in Alberta its pretty much tied with "prevention" (31 to 29). Manitoba/Sask themselves more open to the "punishment" option, with 37% in favour, the highest anywhere in Canada. Curiously they also have "rehabilitation" at its second highest in Canada, 19%, though everywhere else its between 17-20%, so I guess that isn't much difference.

    In Eastern Canada, only Ontario has the "punishment" option above 30%, at 31%, tied with Alberta, though the "prevention" option is at 37%. Makes sense, given Ontario's split population.

    As for deterrence, I think that either means things like after school programs, or it means guns-a-blazing. I go for the latter option because the western regions have the top three highest scores, and we all know how they like their guns out there.

  6. One does wonder exactly what is meant by "Prevention"?

    Does that only mean more police or is there something I'm missing here ?

  7. Well I'm happy with those results.

  8. "That the Manning Centre's results were refuted should come as no surprise."

    Wow. Pull the bias back in a little bit eh Eric ? You should know better.

    Manning is one data point. Ekos is another.

    Two conflicting data points don't "refute" each other. They conflict with each other.

    A third and preferably fourth data point are needed to see if someone is an outlier.

  9. Not a good poll but if you put deterrence and punishment together you get 48%. Remember that Harper has narrowed his message to those most likely to vote for him. If he can capture that 48% and some who see punishment and deterrence as part of prevention he has the makings of his 40 to 42% needed for a majority. No doubt Harper is using crime as a wdge issue. You can see why.

  10. Shadow,

    Oh please. Organization with implicit bias versus trusted polling firm with reliable results.

    Do you really want to get into the argument of which one is an outlier?


    Question is, what the Hell is deterrence? No one knows. And I've heard Liberals and New Democrats alike speak about "deterrence" as well as Conservatives, so that latter half of 48% is up for grabs, aye.

  11. Volkov:
    Question is, what the Hell is deterrence? No one knows.

    And what's the difference between Prevention and Deterrence??

    They are both the same as far as I can see?

  12. Volkov the Manning polling was contracted out to trusted pollsters as well.

    And no I don't want to get into an arguement about which is an outlier because its statistically impossible to prove it either way with only 2 data points.

    But i'm having a good chuckle.

    EKOS is the CBC's pollster. "Trust" isn't the word that comes to mind.

    I assume this was taken with the same sample showing +10% Green support and +3% "Other" support.

    When the sample is that skewed and the questions are badly phrased its not wonder the results conflict with the well constructed manning poll.

  13. No, the EKOS questions were more correctly worded than the Manning Centre's. Their questions were leading to the nth degree.

  14. Volkov:
    When the sample is that skewed and the questions are badly phrased its not wonder the results conflict with the well constructed manning poll.

    So now you have received the Party Line. I trust you understand ?

  15. The Manning centers questions were well designed.

    I never heard any complaints at the time it came out. Strange i'm just hearing about it now.

    As for these EKOS questions, well just a quick read through the comments section shows people are deeply confused by the concepts they included in their crime questions.

  16. --- I never heard any complaints at the time it came out. Strange i'm just hearing about it now.

    Perhaps you weren't listening. And, of course, they weren't taken seriously.

  17. Shadow,

    Just like The Marshall Plan's polling was contracted out to other trusted pollsters, like Environics, which gave us the 5-point Liberal lead? I remember you crying foul then.

    Simple fact is that there is an implicit bias for the Manning Center. Ekos doesn't have one, even if they are CBC's preferred pollster. The key difference is that the CBC doesn't direct Ekos' pollster questions - Ekos gets them themselves.

    I mean, do you honestly distrust these results, Shadow? Is their in fact majority pro-lifers in this country? Is SSM considered a travesty in most people's minds? What? What do you see so wrong about these results?

  18. Volkov it goes back to the poor question construction of EKOS.

    Pro-life or pro-choice ?

    Really somebody can't be both ?

    I think a majority of Canadians are in fact personally opposed to abortion but at the same time do not believe it should be illegal.

    That's what the manning poll found.

    Much, much better constructed question from the manning poll than from the EKOS poll.

  19. Shadow,

    Do you not think it possible that most Canadians are socially Liberal?

    They are not hung up on abortion, marijuana, and SSM.

    They are not of the philosophy of the "Hang em high" crowd when it comes to crime.

    Do you really believe that social conservatives represent the view of the majority of Canadians?

  20. I don't find "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice" abortion polls very illuminating, because people define those things differently. The more useful polls (Gallup did a couple several years ago) ask people whether they support or oppose specific regulations on abortion (informed consent, spousal notification, limits after the first trimester).

    It's amazing how fast opposition to same-sex marriage has declined.

  21. @Peter:
    I think crime prevention would be stuff like job programs for lower-income youth, community centres, sports and recreation programs, student retention efforts, and so on.

    Arguably, it could also be indefinite imprisonment not for the purpose of being mean to the prisoner (punishment) but for the purpose of keeping the prisoner out of society.

  22. --- Pro-life or pro-choice ?

    Really somebody can't be both ?

    "Neither" was an option.

  23. I could go over what I think is different about deterrence v. prevention and what that means, but unless EKOS defined it in the poll, I doubt everyone would be thinking the same definitions anyway.

    As for the Manning poll, I don't know if I was only talking about it on the Globe site; but it came to some really incorrect conclusions based on the questions it asked.

    For example; it claimed that positive response to 'the traditional definition of marriage' meant opposition to same sex marriage. It asked people whether they approved or disapproved of abortion, and used that as evidence for whether they were in favor of making it harder to choose or have.

    I also disputed their top line opinions of whether Canadians favored government stimulation to improve the economy. After all, if the majority of Canadians they claimed were against it, how come Canadians' votes didn't ever reflect this?

    ...and so forth. If you don't believe I felt that way at the time, I can try to find my G&M comments. ;)

    Graves though has his own mistakes I believe. Isn't he the guy who pushed that theory that Gen-Y would be 'continental conservatives'?

  24. 49 steps as I said above I think a majority of Canadians are personally opposed to abortion but think it should remain safe and legal.

    Both pro-life and pro-choice. Obviously "neither" is not the same thing. Poorly designed question, there can be no arguement !

    As for tough on crime i'd say we're split down the middle when you adjust for the fact that this is EKOS (same formula for their polling, give the Conservative position +6%).

    BTW what's the link to that forum you guys are always on ?

  25. @kevinsutton: You make great points re: abortion and ssm.

    Many conservatives want to ban things that they disapprove of: "if something's immoral, it should be illegal." Some of them don't realize that the majority of the population doesn't think that way - that it's possible to disapprove of abortion and/or ssm while supporting their legality.

  26. I oppose the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples, because I don't think the government should be regulating marriage at all. Having the government interfere in the personal lives of even more people is a bad thing.

    So, since I support the complete deregulation of marriage, I oppose expanding it in its current form.

    Though I suspect that's not how anyone interprets the No votes in the SSM portion of that poll.

    And really, who values punishment? That's crazy. And what's the difference between prevention and deterrence?

  27. To put that another way, I would count deterrence as the primary objective of punishment, and the most effective means of prevention (the other being, keep people locked up so thaey can't re-offend).

    What's the point of punishment is not deterrence? Surely the whole point of punishing wrong-doers is to deter other potential wrong-doers from doing wrong in the future.

  28. Ira: What's the point of punishment [if] not deterrence? Surely the whole point of punishing wrong-doers is to deter other potential wrong-doers from doing wrong in the future.

    Nope. The point of "punishment" is to feed righteous anger. Sort of like kicking the table leg after you stub your toe on it. Matthew 5:38. Everything after that is just window-dressing and rationalization.

    Stephen Harper knows his target demographic. He's not aiming at the Matthew 5:39 crowd.

  29. And speaking of punishing bad guys with no clear understanding of ends, means and metrics...

  30. What do you call someone who doesn't mind abortion up to a certain point - let's say, up until approximately four months after conception, while it's still just a clump of cells - but is generally against it afterwards?

    I'm personally 'against' abortions ... it does make me squeamish ... but I don't think that legislating against it is the answer. The abortion issue is a bit of a red herring ... it's much better to focus on decreasing the rates of unwanted pregnancies rather than fighting against women who feel that they're not capable of raising a child, whatever the reason.

  31. Conservatives love to quote, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."

    They also love to ignore Jesus' words concerning retaliation:

    ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

    ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

    (Matthew 5:38-44)

    [I'm an atheist, but I do know the Bible ... too bad so many Christians don't adhere to Christian philosophy, which actually ain't bad.]

  32. Tough on crime is a slogan. I prefer solutions, over slogans.

    We need to address the root causes of crime. Poverty, lack of education, and poor living conditions.

    Stephen Harper, wants to build new prisons.

    These new prisons are being built, to house our poor, minorities, and the mentally unstable.

    This to me is an outrage, and will not reduce crime, or make our society any safer.

  33. Education would help with deterrence. Deterrence clearly does work (look at all the people in society who don't break laws - they've been effectively deterred), but it works best on educated people who can effectively weight their options before choosing to commit crimes.

  34. OT:

    Speaker may rule on Afghan documents question as early as tomorrow. Issue could be referred to the Supreme court or Parliament dissolved.

  35. "Tough on crime is a slogan. I prefer solutions, over slogans.

    We need to address the root causes of crime. Poverty, lack of education, and poor living conditions."

    Why does 1 have to exclude the other then 49?? And while you are waiting on results and working on for years bettering education and living conditions and poverty.... do you just let crime run rampant? Doesn't crime create more crime?

    Don't you have to do both tough on crime and improve peoples lot in order to accomplish the goal of less crime?

  36. Barcs: Don't you have to do both tough on crime and improve peoples lot in order to accomplish the goal of less crime?


    "Tough on crime" has no effect on the crime rate. Its primary purpose is to feed the anger junkies.

  37. John,

    Thanks for the link.

    I would like good policy rather than feeding the "Anger Junkies" as you call them.

    This "Tough on Crime" is nonsense.

  38. mmmm... I love fairy tales...

  39. On the abortion issue (as with the marijuana possession issue), the ONLY question that is relevant in public policy terms is whether people think it should be made illegal. I don't care what their personal opinions on the wisdom of abortion are, what I need to know for public policy decision-making is what they think governments should do about it. The answer to that, clearly, is "nothing".


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