The Sandwich Generation: Parents Aged 35-54 Significantly More Likely to Vote Conservative, Favour Scheer

Pocketbook Issues Like Taxes Will Matter Most at the Ballot Box

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, October 10, 2019 — Canadians are getting older. Report after report has highlighted the steady greying of the national population and the implications on an already overstretched public health care system. Less often mentioned is the toll taken on the next generation – the adult children who are now caring for their ageing parents, often at the same time as they are raising their own children. Often called the “sandwich generation”, these Canadians have their hands full with family responsibilities. When it comes to voting, Ipsos polling for Global News reveals that this translates to stronger voting intentions, and a greater likelihood to cast their ballot based on issues that directly affect their pocketbook, health, and education.

Ipsos has conducted three polls for Global News since the start of the election campaign, and when they are aggregated to provide a total sample of over 5,500 Canadians, a more solid base of sandwich generation respondents is available. For the purposes of this article, the sandwich generation is defined as Canadians aged 35-54 who have at least one child aged younger than 18 living at home. While some interpretations of this generation portray a wider age range extending into the 70s at the upper level, we believe restricting it to an upper level of 54 will provide a more general read on parents whose own parents are still living.

Examining this group in more detail reveals that support for the Conservative Party is even stronger among the sandwich generation that it is among Gen X’ers at large. If the election were held tomorrow:

  • Four in ten (42%) sandwich generation respondents would vote Conservative, some 9 points ahead of those who would vote Liberal (33%).
  • By comparison, the voter intention gap is just 5 points among those aged 35-54, irrespective of parental status, with 38% saying they’d vote Tory and 33% indicating they’d vote Liberal.
  • Sandwich generation Canadians are significantly less likely to say they’d vote NDP: just 11% would, compared to 22% of those aged 18-34 and 14% of those aged 35-54 in general.
  • About one in ten (13%) are undecided, in line with other generations younger than 55.

Not only do sandwich generation Canadians seem to have a clearer idea about the party they’ll vote for on October 21st, they are also more intent on showing up to vote. Nearly two in three (63%) say they are completely certain they will vote, rating their certainty a 10 out of 10. Absolute certainty is significantly lower among those aged 18-34 (46%) or the 35-54 age group at large (59%), leaving only the Boomers who are even more certain to turn up at the ballot box (80%).

In line with their higher likelihood of voting Conservative, members of the sandwich generation also tend to favour party leader Andrew Scheer as the strongest candidate to run the country. More than one in three (36%) say Scheer is their pick for best Prime Minister, in line with 39% of Boomers who say the same. Younger voters aged 18-34 (24%) and those aged 35-54 in general (31%) are significantly less likely to say Scheer would be the best PM.

Issues that Matter

Overall, the top three issues of importance to the sandwich generation in terms of determining how they will vote at the federal election are healthcare (35%), affordability and cost of living (32%), and taxes (31%). When compared to Canadians in general, this differs in one noticeable way: climate change is much lower down the list in terms of perceived importance. Only two in ten sandwich generation Canadians (23%) list climate change in their top 3 most important issues, compared to nearly three in ten among the public at large (28%).

That affordability should trump climate change among this demographic is unsurprising. In addition to juggling the costs of raising children, this generation is most likely to have the responsibility of caring for their parents as well. On top of this, the sandwich generation are also saddled with significant financial commitments. They are more likely to own a house (70% do, compared to 61% of Boomers, 50% of Gen X’ers and 24% of Millennials), and those who commute to work are the most likely to do so by driving (81%), suggesting they are also the most likely to be paying down auto expenses.

insertIn general, ballot-box issues related to the generations they care for (health care, education) matter more to the sandwich generation than to other Canadians, as do pocketbook issues like taxes, debt, and jobs:

  • Healthcare: 35% of sandwich generation Canadians say this is a top issue of importance, compared to 27% of Millennials. Half (52%) say wait times in emergency rooms and hospitals is the healthcare issue that matters most to them and their family, more so than any other generation;
  • Taxes: an issue of importance to 31%, vs. 22% of Millennials and 25% of those aged 35-54 at large;
  • The economy: an issue of importance to 27%, vs. 18% of Millennials;
  • Education: 21% see it as an issue of importance, vs. 15% of those aged 35-54 in general and just 5% of Boomers;
  • Government deficits/debt: 11% see this as an issue of importance, vs. 5% of Millennials;
  • Unemployment/jobs: 9% see it as important, vs. 6% of Boomers.

These are some of the findings of 3 Ipsos polls conducted during the campaign period, including Sep 11 to 13, Sep 20 to 23, and Sep 27 to 30, 2019. The samples have been aggregated, and in total a sample of n = 5,551 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, including 785 parents aged 35-54 via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, or by telephone (landline and cellphones). Online respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. Quotas and weighting were employed for each survey to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, survey results among n=785 parents aged 35-54 is +/- 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all parents aged 35-54 been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here:

© 2019, Ipsos Limited Partnership

This polling release and the data contained in it are the sole and exclusive property of Ipsos. They are NOT designed to support any election outcome or prediction model and no license to use the polling release or the data is either granted or implied by their publication. Ipsos does not endorse, and has no responsibility for the accuracy of, the result of any predictive model that incorporates this polling data. Furthermore, any use of this information to produce polling aggregations or election models without Ipsos’ written permission will be considered a violation of our intellectual property, and Ipsos reserves the right to take appropriate legal action. Detailed tabular data tables can be found here:

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker, PhD

CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD). ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs