|| Political Parties
|| Polling Data
|| Marginal Seats
|| Election News
|| Women & Elections
|| Election Laws
This page provides tables of polling results tracking changes in voters' preferences as the 2006 campaign unfolded. While the focus of most media attention is often on the national levels of support for the various parties, in the end the regional and local levels of support are much more indicative of how parties may fare on election day.
CPAC and SES Research combined to offer daily opinion poll results of the national standings of the main political parties. 400 people are interviewed every day, and every three day's worth of sampling are combined for 1200 in the current day's results. The CPAC/SES results are released very weekday, Monday through Friday. The Globe & Mail is also providing a "rolling sample" poll, conducted by Strategic Counsel, with daily results. These daily polls are an excellent way to keep track of the evolving pulse at a national level.
You will notice in the table of national opinion poll results below that some persistent differences emerged in the polls conducted in most of December by The Strategic Counsel and by SES. When you look at polls conducted during exactly the same time period, the SES polls consistently place the Liberal Party 4 or 5 points ahead of the levels of supported reported in the Strategic Counsel polls. Some of these differences may be explained by different approaches each company takes in trying to factor in poll respondents who do not initially indicate that they have decided whom to vote for.
Undefined depth of support for specific parties
A fundamental problem with media reporting on opinion polls is that there is usually little indication in the initial reports of how soft the reported support is for each party, or how each polling company tries to probe for voting intentions. Polls results often loosely proclaim "40% of decided voters... etc" However, that final figure may be based on having to prod the respondents at least twice into expressing a preference: 1) "If an election were held today which party would you vote for?" and, if they say don't know, then they are asked 2) "which party are you leaning towards voting for?" The second group are only leaning and should not be viewed as actual support. But even those who name a party on the first question may be actively considering another party (or whether to vote at all). It would take other specific questions to establish that the voter has settled their choices and is not likely to switch parties.
Thus, we in the public often miss the fluid nature of public opinion when polls are reported. Every now and again, however, a news item puts a little spot light on the problem. For example, CTV News reported on its web site on December 8, 2005 that almost half of voters were 'leaners' or did not know whom to vote for. A large poll by Decima conducted between Dec 7-9 also found that 49% of voters said they could change their minds before election day. These little snippets provide much more insight than the current state of the horse race reporting.
The events of the 2004 election demonstrate the impact of voters changing their minds in the final days of this election. The most recent published poll in the 2006 campaign to reveal the potential for changing party preferences in the dying days of the 2006 camapaing is one conducted by Léger between January 12-17th:
Notes: Mike Smit has created a page with graphical representations of the polling data from this page.
Links to Polling Companies
Other sponsors may be identified in the poll reports linked to in the table of results, above.
I welcome any feedback and suggestions for fresh material to add to this site -
Political Science Department -- Simon Fraser university