A newly released INNOVATIVE poll of 2,771 eligible Canadian voters and 2,435 registered US voters has found Canada and the US have experienced two major value changes over the past four years.
In the wake of the growing Black Lives Matter movement and increasing discussions about racial justice, we have seen a dramatic rise in the esteem of Black people in both countries. In 2016, just over half (51%) Americans reported a favourable impression of Black people (7 or higher on a 0 to 10 scale). Now 62% of Americans say the same, an increase of 11 points. Similar, in Canada, favourable impressions of Black people have risen from 55% to 65%, a gain of 10 point.
In both countries the biggest shift is away from those who reported more neutral feelings, although in Canada there has also been a decline in those report unfavourable feelings from 10% to 5%.
This is an unusual success for a social movement. For instance, the environmental movement has generated a great deal of attention with efforts such as the Greta Thunberg-led climate strikes but two environmental measures on our survey show much smaller and more mixed changes.
The other clear change has been the decline of populism and the rise of deference. We track populism by asking whether governments should rely on experts or if governments listen ‘too closely’ to experts and should defer to common sense instead.
In 2016, this form of political populism was dominant in both Canada and the US. Majorities in both countries were skeptical of relying on expert opinion by a margin of 20 points or more. Now the two countries are divided with almost as many taking the deferential view as the populist view. The differences is only 3 points in Canada and 2 points in the US.
Two other areas show smaller shifts – but running in the same direction in both countries:
Are Canadians and Americans becoming more similar?
In addition to parallel shifts on some values, there are also 8 value dimensions where the two countries are converging:
Although there are some key exceptions, Canadians and Americans have always held many broadly similar values. While important differences remain, many of the changes over the last 4 years point to countries with more in common than they used to have – not less.
For more information and detailed results, read the full report here.
Methodology: Results for this study come from two online surveys of American registered voters and Canadian eligible voters. Both surveys were in field from September 29, 2020 to October 6, 2020. The American survey has a total weighted sample size of 1,000; the sample was weighted by age, gender, region, education, race, and urban/rural. The Canadian survey has a total weighted sample size of 1,500; the sample was weighted by age, gender, and region. See the full report for detailed methodology.