Anger, fear over pandemic election is growing among Canadians, poll suggests

·2 min read
Canadians are concerned about safety as they head to the polls amid a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Canadians are concerned about safety as they head to the polls amid a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A recent poll about the upcoming federal election has revealed a growing anger among Canadians about voting during the fourth wave of a pandemic.

About 1,500 Canadians responded to the poll created for Global News, which asked respondents about their feelings toward the campaign and how they plan to participate in the election.

"It's a significant number of Canadians that simply don't think that this was the right time to have the campaign. They're not happy with the fact that we're doing it during the course of the pandemic," CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs Darrel Bricker told CBC.

Typically polling shows that when people are upset about a campaign being triggered, they get over it quickly and focus on campaign issues. But this time, that hasn't happened.

In fact, Bricker said, frustration and concern about the election has gone up since pollsters first asked the question over a week ago.

Bricker said there are two reasons for Canadians' distaste for an election this fall.

The first is fear: as the contagious delta variant continues to spread nationwide, people worry for their safety.

"People are feeling that it's risky to show up to vote in the election," Bricker said.

The second is that people are cynical.

"They're feeling like they're being asked to take a risk for no good reason," Bricker explained.

Opposition parties argued against an early election call. Canada's next fixed-date election was set for October 2023.

Voter turnout

Bricker said parties will have to convince Canadians to vote by ensuring safety at the polls and giving people the option to vote by mail.

Elections Canada is prepared to receive up to five million mail-in ballots in this year's federal election. About 50,000 mail-in ballots were cast in 2019.

"It could be very easy and it could work very well. But if there's any hiccups, it could have a major impact on turnout," Bricker said.

Lower turnout elections tend to have different outcomes, particularly for progressive parties.

Stephen Harper's win in 2011 had a low voter turnout of about 61 per cent.

In contrast, in 2015, when Justin Trudeau won for the Liberals, turnout was about 69 per cent. In 2019, it was 66 per cent.

"The Liberals absolutely need higher turnout," Bricker said.

"This election looks like it's working its way toward a lower-turnout election."

As of Monday morning, according to the CBC News poll tracker, the Conservatives had pulled ahead in the race.

The Ipsos poll was conducted between August 20 and 23, for Global News.

The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures to reflect the adult population of Canada. The margin of error — which measures sample variability — is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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