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Once again, the CARP ActionOnline poll results demonstrate that CARP members are a bellwether group. Not only do our results track the trends uncovered by the public polls but detected the dramatic reversal in Liberal fortunes in Ontario sooner than the published polls.
The common conclusion is that once the prospect of an election became imminent, the Conservative base hardened and grew at the expense of the Liberals. And since 2008, CARP members who voted Liberal have defected to the Conservatives, those who voted NDP have defected to the Liberals and the Conservatives and those who voted Green have defected to the Liberals and the Conservatives as well.
So does that mean there is no hope for people who advocate for changes in public policy – to increase OAS, GIS and CPP, establish a universal pension plan, eliminate mandatory retirement, provide support for family caregivers and all other changes that CARP members have said they like to see?
The current government has indicated no receptiveness to these proposals, the NDP have picked up the retirement security piece and a Liberal MP is willing to press a private members’ bill on mandatory retirement – all as reported in previous issues of CARPActionOnline.
So how do we lever our electoral franchise to get the politicians to address our issues? Are we, as a group, prepared to make our demands a condition of our vote?
We found that those who vote on the issue (26%) slightly outnumber those who vote the party (23%), but the majority say they take both party and issue into account when they vote (52%.). More encouragingly, a solid majority (60%) would be prepared to switch their vote if their party made it clear that it would NOT support their issue.
There could be hope in the volatility. To quote Peter Donolo of Strategic Counsel: “The electorate has never been this volatile … That’s the real story.” And the Globe and Mail comment that: If so, Mr. Ignatieff may be able to re-brand himself on his own terms, and the numbers could move again. Or from CARP’s point of view, Government and Opposition parties could start addressing the issues that matter to the most engaged group of the electorate and it could pay off for them politically.
And although CARP frequently refers to an Elections Canada report on the 2004 Election in which it was found that 70% of older Canadians voted in that election, it appears that CARP ActionOnline readers are even more politically engaged. When members are asked how likely they are to vote in the next election, the vast majority (89%) choose the most emphatic answer (“definitely will vote”):
Pre-Election Poll Report
More than twice as many members would now vote for the Conservatives as would vote for the Liberals, and this growth in support has been entirely at the expense of the Liberals.
In the battleground province of Ontario, CARP projections show the Conservatives with a commanding lead, a major reversal of results earlier this summer. CARP’s Ontario projections are backed up by national polls.
CARP members are most likely to vote for a party for its economic stewardship rather than a list of other reasons. They are evenly split on whether they vote for a party or an issue and are mostly likely to say they will switch parties if the one they support doesn’t back their issue. Despite this claim, it appears few are willing to switch their vote for action on issues related to seniors, pensions and health care, which have tested high in importance in past CARP polls. On the other hand, those who vote primarily on the issues rather than the party are much more likely to switch their vote to another party to get their issues supported.
The members who are most likely to switch their votes to get support for a preferred issue are younger, in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, are female, support the opposition parties, vote on the issue rather than the party, vote on issues other than economic stewardship and will vote but are not “definitely” likely to vote next time.
Since the 2008 election, CARP members who voted Liberal have defected to the Conservatives, those who voted NDP have defected to the Liberals and the Conservatives and those who voted Green have defected to the Liberals and the Conservatives as well. Those who voted Conservative have not defected since last year.
The vast majority of CARP members say they voted in the 2008 election and “definitely will vote” in the next election.