Protests not influencing polls, but Canadians growing frustrated with pandemic election

WATCH: An Ipsos poll exclusively done for Global News showed that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians disapprove of having a federal election during the pandemic. Miranda Anthistle reports.

Mobs of angry protestors accosting Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have grabbed headlines, but are not swaying the balance of power in the polls.

According to a recent Ipsos poll for Global News, only 17 per cent of respondents said the protests will impact their vote.

“Canadians, they’re not impressed by what they’re seeing at the protests … they’re not seeing it as a dire threat to Canadian democracy,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

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Since the beginning of the federal election campaign, the Liberal leader has seemingly been followed from stop to stop by a crowd of anti-vaxx protesters opposing vaccine passports. Trudeau also had gravel thrown at him while trying to return to his campaign bus in the evening of Sept. 6 in London, Ont. The poll was conducted between Sept. 3 and Sept. 6, with most respondents providing answers prior to the gravel attack.

According to the polls, while half of those surveyed think the violence is close to or along the lines of the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol building, those views haven’t been reflected in voting intention.

“We’re unclear about what it’s all about, we’re unclear about how to interpret it,” said Bricker. “We don’t know how to factor it into our vote.”

In fact, it’s not the protests that are causing a significant divide, but the issue of the election call itself. Since the start of the pandemic, the gap has only widened. On Aug. 17, 56 per cent of Canadians disagreed with the need for an election, but that number has since ballooned to 68 per cent.

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Bricker, a 30-year-veteran of the polling industry, said there’s never before been a moment in his career where voters have been growing more opposed to the thought of the election as we get closer.

“I’ve never seen an example in which people weren’t able to get over why an election was called — never seen this before,” he said.

Whenever NDP leader Jagmeet Singh or Conservative leader Erin O’Toole have had an opportunity to target Trudeau for his early election call amid a fourth wave of COVID-19, they’ve taken it.

Singh, who was working with Trudeau’s minority government, has said the Liberal leader attempted a power grab, while O’Toole has consistently reminded voters that the election cycle was Trudeau’s doing.

“ even asking the question suggests something about the character and judgment of the Liberal Party,” said Bricker.

While the two leaders are probably seeing and hearing the same things in their own camps, the decision to head to the polls doesn’t seem to be sitting well with Trudeau supporters either. Of the Liberal voters polled, 62 per cent said they were against an election during the pandemic.

“The Liberal Party hasn’t been able to shake this and it’s really defined their campaign and defined the campaign overall,” said Bricker.

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There is a generational divide amongst how voters perceive the election call. For example, the older the voter, the more likely they are against the idea of an election during the pandemic. Baby boomers are the most opposed with 82 per cent against the election call while gen-Zers are 44 per cent against.

One of the consistent notes that Bricker has heard from respondents is between dealing with real-life issues such as back-to-school, the fourth wave outbreak, vaccine passports and changing restrictions, the thought of having to elect a government rather than have politicians deal with the imminent crisis seems wrong.

They just feel that it’s inappropriate to be forced to consider political consequences during a time in which they’re dealing with really practical issues,” he said.

While there are many who oppose the concept of an election during a pandemic, the whole process could further harm Liberals in who ends up showing up to cast a ballot.

According to a poll done by Ipsos, one in eight Canadians are totally undecided on their vote. In 2019, there were 27.3 million voters, so that would mean there are more than 3.5 million people who don’t know which party they will support. Women make up two-thirds of the undecided vote.

In Bricker’s eyes, the Liberal party will need people to show up at the polls. He cited larger election turnouts have helped the Liberals secure a majority in 2015 and minority in 2019. But, with the likely increase in advance voting and the vitriol in this election cycle, Bricker said it’s harder to understand what will motivate people to get to the polls.

“There’s a lot of confusion as to how people are actually going to participate in this election,” he said.

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While the poll numbers help to show where support lies, Bricker’s noted that “elections are about emotions” and the two driving emotions this year are anger and fear. There is frustration over the election call by the Liberals, and for Canadians, there is fear over what would happen if a Conservative government took control.

With all of that being said, there is ample room for the New Democratic Party to rise up the rankings and potentially be the kingmakers. Bricker said this election is looking more and more like it’s going to come down to a few seats between Liberals and Conservatives, but whoever wants to form a minority government will need to ensure Singh and company are satisfied.

“The NDP and Jagmeet Singh are in an amazing position right now where they have the very serious potential to be the powerbroker in this next Parliament,” he said.

Voters head to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20.

These are some of the findings for the Ipsos poll conducted between Sept. 3 and Sept. 6 regarding protesters on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 1,500 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation.  Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. 

These are some of the findings of Ipsos polling conducted between Aug. 13 and Sept. 6, 2021, regarding undecided voters on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 6,502 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. A sample of n = 6,002 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. A sample of n = 500 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed by live-interview telephone interviewers by landline and cellphone, using random-digit dialing. Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. From this sample, n = 774 respondents said they were undecided, and these respondents are the focus of this factum.

The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all undecided Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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