Conservatives (33%) Have Slight Lead over Liberals (31%) in National Popular Vote, but Liberals Hold Advantage in Ontario and Quebec

With Election Close and Country Divided, Who Will Get Out Their Vote?

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  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, October 20, 2019 — On the final day of the campaign, the Conservatives have a slight lead over the Liberals in the national popular vote, but the Liberals hold an advantage in both Ontario and Quebec, reflecting just how close this election has been from start to finish.

If the election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives would receive 33% of the decided popular vote nationally (up 1 point), while the Liberals would receive 31% of the decided popular vote (up 1 point). The NDP is at 18% of the decided vote (down 2 points), while the Green Party would receive 6% of the vote (down 2 points). The People’s Party would get 3% support (up 1 point) while 1% would vote for some other party. The Bloc Québécois’ 29% in Quebec translates to 7% nationally (unchanged).

While the result of the election remains uncertain, two things are abundantly clear:

  • Canada is a divided country, with the Tories showing strength west of the Ontario-Manitoba border and the Liberals taking the provinces east of that line. No clear preference has emerged in British Columbia, where all major federal parties are vying for votes. Furthermore, the resurgence of the Bloc in Quebec in this campaign is reminiscent of the 1993 election.
  • While the Tories have a slight advantage in the popular vote nationally, their vote is less efficient. The Liberals are leading in the two provinces where it matters most, while the Tories are receiving a lot of inefficient votes due to their significant lead in the Prairies.

With a minority government being the most likely scenario, the popular vote or even a party’s seat count might not be the determining factor of who “wins”, but rather who can cobble together enough support to gain the confidence of Parliament. The Tories might win the popular vote, but the Liberals could win more seats.

The Tories could even win the popular vote and have more seats than the Liberals. This confusion suggests that on Oct 21st we could be waiting to see the results from British Columbia before we know who will finish on top in the seat count.

Perhaps more importantly now than in any other recent federal election, who wins the most seats will be determined in the regions of Canada, which are divided in the following way:

  • In seat-rich Ontario, the Liberals have a 5-point lead over the Conservatives.
  • In Quebec, the Liberals have a 4-point lead over the Bloc.
  • In British Columbia, the Conservatives lead the NDP by 5 points, with the Liberals another five points behind.
  • In Alberta, the Conservatives have a predictable and insurmountable lead.
  • In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the overall situation is similar with the Conservatives maintaining a very comfortable lead within the region, overall.
  • In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals have a double-digit lead over the Conservatives.

In a final assessment of the Prime Minister and his government before Canadians cast their ballots, the government’s fundamentals do not look as weak as the popular-vote tally suggests:

  • 37% of Canadians believe that the Trudeau government has done a good job and deserves re-election, while 60% think it’s time for another party to take over. While 37% believing a sitting Prime Minister has done a good job would normally give the incumbent a fairly strong chance at re-election, these figures are being buoyed by Bloc voters in Quebec – 26% of whom approve of Trudeau, but are not going to vote for the Liberals. Three percent (3%) of Canadians, overall, are unsure.
  • Over four in ten (45%) approve (9% strongly/35% somewhat) of the performance of the Liberal government under the leadership of Justin Trudeau. Conversely, 54% disapprove (33% strongly/21% somewhat). Two percent (2%) are unsure. Clearly not all who approve of the government’s performance are endorsing a second mandate, suggesting some desire to punish the Prime Minister.

Reflecting on who they think would make the best Prime Minister, 29% believe it is Justin Trudeau, while 26% think Andrew Scheer would be the best leader, who runs significantly behind his party. Two in ten (21%) favour Jagmeet Singh, who runs ahead of his party. The remaining Canadians believe that Elizabeth May (8%), Maxime Bernier (5%) or Yves-François Blanchet (4%) would be best PM. Nearly one in ten (7%) are not sure.

Differential turnout is the key remaining question. Bloc (83%) and Conservative (80%) voters are most likely to say they’re completely certain they will cast their ballot (or that they already have), while Liberal (76%) and NDP (76%) voters are only slightly less likely to say the same thing, suggesting that the ballot-box bonus the Tories had earlier in the campaign is now reduced.

What remains an advantage for the Tories is that their voters are most committed to their choice. Two in three (65%) Tory voters are absolutely certain they’ll support the CPC on E-Day (or have already cast their ballot for them), while Liberal (56%), Green (54%) and NDP voters (50%) are less likely to say so. Bloc voters, on the other hand, are like CPC voters and are firm (68%) in their vote choice.

About The Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 17 and 19, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 3,108 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. A sample of n = 2,002 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. A sample of n = 1,106 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed by live-interview telephone interviewers by landline and cellphone, using random-digit dialing. Quotas and weighting were employed 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 (weighting efficiency = 61.1%). The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. 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


[email protected]

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