Friday, June 10, 2011

Tories are happy, others not so much

Last week, Environics released the results of their post-election survey. The findings are very interesting, and I encourage you to check them out. The poll itself has to be considered quite accurate, as when they asked respondents how they voted the result was almost identical to the election night's results. They were even close on the turnout, which is a rarity indeed. However, they still under-estimate the Conservatives by two points, indicating that there has to be some sort of "shy Tory" factor at play. It is puzzling.

But two results of the poll especially grabbed my attention.

Firstly, Environics asked respondents the main reasons why they voted for the party that they did. By choosing the top three responses by party, we get an indication of the motivations behind the average Conservative, New Democratic, and Liberal voter.

For the Conservatives, the main reason people voted for them was that they liked the party, its policies, and its promises. This was the motivation behind 54% of Conservative votes. Another 13% voted Tory because they disliked the other parties and/or their leaders, while 13% voted Conservative because they liked Stephen Harper. Only 3% voted Conservative to "stop the NDP", which seems to argue against one of the theories behind the difference between the polls and the election night results for the Tories.

The top response for the New Democrats was also that voters liked the party, but this was the main reason for only 34% of voters. A desire for change was second, at 28%, while 13% voted NDP to "stop" the Conservatives.

One-third of Liberal voters cast their ballot that way because they wanted to stop the Conservatives, a less-than positive reason for voting. Another 27% liked the party, while 20% liked the local candidate - the highest proportion of any of the parties.

Interestingly, 1% of respondents said they voted Liberal because they disliked Ignatieff. That'll show 'em!

The other question that interested me was how voters felt about the outcome. They could choose between feeling happy, relieved, sad, fearful, and indifferent.

If we consider feeling happy and relieved to be positive emotions, and feeling sad and fearful to be negative emotions, we can see how voters for each party felt about the election in general.
In the above chart, the gray represents those who did not vote.

At a glance, we can see that Conservative supporters felt very positively about the election result - and why not. Their party won a majority. Fully 82% are quite happy.

But New Democratic voters aren't as pleased as you might expect. Their party made a historic breakthrough in Quebec, won the most seats and votes in their history, and are now the Official Opposition. But only 27% of their voters are happy with the results.

Though it is somewhat surprising it is as high as it is, 13% of Liberal voters and 10% of Bloc voters feel positively about what happened on May 2nd. Thirty percent of non-voters are also pleased with the result.

As for having negative feelings about the election result, only 2% of Conservative voters have some regrets. That is miniscule. Surprisingly, only 21% of non-voters feel the same way (36% are, understandably, indifferent).

Despite their historic outcome, fully 42% of NDP voters feel sad or fearful about the election results. And despite being reduced to third party status, only 54% of Liberal voters feel negatively. It is a majority, but you'd expect Liberals to be a little more upset, along the lines of the 73% of Bloc voters.

For supporters of the Conservatives and Bloc, these results come as no surprise. The Tories are pleased as punch while Bloc supporters are concerned. But both Liberal and NDP supporters are surprisingly indifferent (25% and 23%, respectively). And a far smaller portion of NDP voters than I would have expected are happy with their party's accomplishments.

How these two voting blocks will act in the coming years will be an interesting thing to watch.


  1. Many NDP voters were also traditionally Bloc voters, so the destruction of the Bloc is another reason why some NDP voters might be unhappy with the election result.

    The ambivalence, overall, of the NDP voters is understandable, I think. They gained a lot of support, but lost a lot of influence. The breakdown of NDP feelings makes sense to me.

    I'm shocked that 1/4 of Liberal voters are indifferent to the outcome. For the Liberals, the election was an unmitigated disaster. That 13% positive number could be based on those voters who supported their local candidate - some of those candidates did win, so mission accomplished.

    That only half of Liberal voters are upset with the result tells us a lot about the Liberal floor. Clearly 46% of Liberal voters aren't too concerned about the fate of the Liberal party generally.

  2. Reading the full report now, these results should terrify the Liberal party executive. I agree with Environics that we should have expected the Liberal voters to be loyal Liberal voters, given how many of their usual voters they lost. The most loyal Liberal voters should be the group that remained.

    But that's not true. HALF of Liberal voters considered not voting Liberal. This matches up nicely with the indifference numbers I mentioned above. The Liberal floor does appear to be roughly half of what they managed during the election. We can be confident now that the Liberal floor is 10%.

  3. I don't see how the NDP "lost a lot of influence" by going from 36 seats to 103. Its not as if Harper made more than one or two minor concessions to them in the first place. Why should be have? The Tories were always happy to have an early election - and anytime they weren't feeling so bullish - the Liberals were always the cheapest date in town!

  4. AverageCanuck10 June, 2011 15:58

    We need to go into the next election under the operating assumption that the polling is consistently underestimating the Tories by several points.

  5. Maybe a couple points, AverageCanuck. It is still impossible to know for certain if there wasn't some last minute change that might not take place again in 2015.


    I think a good indication of how the NDP has gained in influence, at least among the public, was on The National last night. They had a report on either G8 or Libya (I can't recall), and when they got the opposition's reaction it was Jack Harris of the NDP. In the past, it would have been a Liberal MP.

  6. I'm not entirely certain that it's a matter of NDP voters being unhappy with their party's success; rather I think that many New Democratic supporters will feel negative feelings about a Conservative majority more acutely than any positive feelings regarding the NDP achieving official opposition status and a historic seat total.

    And every party except the Tories have lost influence in terms of legislative power. The only people who can influence policy for the next five years will be the caucus and party membership. The other 144 MPs can suck eggs for all the power they'll have over the agenda.

  7. I'm a Green party supporter, but since I voted Liberal for strategic reasons this survey would count me as a Liberal voter. I have a hard time deciding how I feel about the election results, since while on the one hand the party I dislike most got a majority, on the other hand "my" party had its most successful federal election ever. So, if I'd been polled, I'd perhaps have been counted under happy/indifferent Liberal voters, which would look confusing.

    - Michael C

  8. I think Ira has it right. The NDP has lost a lot of influence even though they gained lots of support.

    During the 40th Parliament, the NDP could always hold the Conservatives accountable because they needed the NDP's support to pass legislation. But now, with a caucus three times as large as the previous one, they seem to still have a strong voice but clearly cannot influence legislation any more because the Conservatives have their majority (hopefully they'll screw it up to make everyone else happy).

  9. It's not the 'shy Tory'. Its because Tories have higher voter turnout.

    The Tories are better at mobilization.The Liberals only know how to speak, philosophize and debate. Not get people to leave their homes and vote.

  10. "During the 40th Parliament, the NDP could always hold the Conservatives accountable because they needed the NDP's support to pass legislation."

    Except that they didn't. The Liberals were ALWAYS willing to roll over and play dead in exchange for nothing - so it was almost never necessary for the Tories to seek any NDP support.

    BTW: I don't see how anyone could describe this past election as "the most successful ever" for the Green party. Their national vote vote collapsed from 6.7% to 3.9% and the only consolation was Elizabeth winning as a the 2015 election she'll be a Liberal so enjoy having her while it lasts.

  11. The shy Tories don't speak English and don't answer polls. They show up to vote point and gesture and say "Harper's Party. Harper's Party and want you to point to the Conservative candidate. I was there.

  12. Like the other Anonymous commenter, I'm a Green party supporter who voted Liberal in my local riding in an attempt to prevent the loss of Ken Dryden's seat to the Conservatives. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have; the final result wasn't anywhere near close enough for my vote-change to have counted. Next time I think I'll be voting Green again.

    It's great that May was elected as an MP, but I'm a bit concerned about how she's not really talking about Green Party issues, but instead seems to only be talking about decorum and tone. I guess she probably had to change her message to get elected in a riding - all the same, I do hope that she'll be a voice for green issues as well, to keep them in the forefront. If she doesn't do that, the Green Party has no reason to exist.

  13. Why would people vote Liberal becuase they dislike Ignatieff?


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