Today, INNOVATIVE is releasing results from our January 2021 Canada This Month survey, tracking federal vote and Canadian values and economic attitudes since the start of 2020. As observers try to anticipate the next election, we are sharing not just top line tracking but tracking within the various values and economic clusters that parties must pull together to build a winning coalition.
Up until now our tracking shows a strong 10-point Liberals lead over the second place Conservatives. While that lead is down from the early summer, it has been strong and stable through the fall and early winter.
That stability masks the reality that the Liberal lead depends on a coalition of people who are conflicted in their underlying attitudes and values. Moreover, some of those values and attitudes are shifting in unexpected ways.
What has been generally stable are our views about equality of opportunity versus redistribution, profit, and whether you can get ahead in Canada. These attitudes are largely the same now as they were before COVID. What has changed are attitudes about government spending, populism vs deference and how hard it is to get by. Canadians are less fiscally conservative, more deferential and less financial stressed.
Looking at values, we see attitudes towards both profit and the redistribution of wealth have remained steady over time. Just under 6 in 10 Canadians (58%) now say the role of the government is to create equal opportunity rather than to redistribute wealth. Canadians are more split on whether the profit system teaches the value of hard work (45%) or if it brings out the worst in human nature (37%).
There has been movement in values surrounding populism and spending. In January of 2020, 47% felt that the government listens to experts too often rather than rely in common sense. This has since declined to only 38% who say they same now. Similarly, in January 2020 37% of Canadians said the government should prioritize their ability to afford over public need when making spending decisions but this has since declined to only 31%.
INNOVATIVE clusters Canadians with similar values together into six value clusters that we track over time to understand how different value groups are voting. The Liberals have consistently lead in every centre-left value cluster throughout the last year but that lead is narrow among Thrifty Moderates where the Liberals currently only lead by 3 points.
INNOVATIVE also tracks two key economic attitudes – the Canadian Dream and economic struggles. Canadians who believe in the Canadian Dream agree that they can be anything they want to in Canada as long as they are willing to work for it. This attitude has remained consistent through the past year.
However, there has been more variance in the share of Canadians who agree that no matter how hard they work it gets more difficult to get by. This attitude declined in May of 2020 before growing again throughout the summer and declining yet again in November. Now, 48% of Canadians agree that no matter how hard they work it gets harder to get by every year.
We combine these into an economic gap segment. The Canadian Dream Struggler segment who believe in the Canadian dream but struggle to get by and the Canadian Dream Achiever segment who also believe in the Canadian dream but are not struggling to get by are the two most competitive segments between the Liberals and the Conservatives, but for most of the year the Liberals have lead Conservatives in both segments.
As an election approach, strategists from every party will be imagining their own paths to victory. What issues can they speak to, which problems can they focus on that will bridge the divides between these various segments. Do they focus on haves or have-nots? Voters who are more populist or more deferential. Now readers can explore the same sort of data they are exploring to come up with their own assessment of party strategies.