Quebec Voter Issues in Final Days Reveal Party Strategies

Economy and Jobs, Referendum and Integrity--not Values Charter--Top Issues Driving Voters to Ballot Box, But Primary Vote Against Referendum Most Motivating

Toronto, ON - Despite the best efforts of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois to focus the attention of the campaign on matters of integrity instead of sovereignty and the prospect of another referendum, the defining issue driving Quebecers to vote the way they are is, in fact, the chance of another referendum.

According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of CTV News, fully one quarter (24%) of Quebecers say that the primary reason for casting their ballot for the party they'll choose on Election Day is because of a potential referendum, but Pauline Marois is on the wrong side of this equation with 18% primarily casting their ballot to stop a referendum by the PQ, and just 6% motivated to vote for the PQ to support the idea of a referendum. In fact, 39% of Liberal voters say they're voting Liberal primarily to stop a referendum, compared to 19% who are voting PQ to support a potential referendum.

The other big issues that are the primary drivers of vote choice are the economy (13%), the Values Charter (7% to support/5% to oppose) and integrity (12%). Below is a table which shows the primary and secondary issues that are motivating Quebecers to vote the way they are.

The Political Strategy on the Hustings Becomes Readily Apparent...

But it's with the adding of the secondary issue vote driver landscape that the individual Party campaign strategies become readily apparent in these final days in the lead up to the vote on April 7, 2014. It's clear that there are three top ballot box driving issues for voters followed by a lesser motivating group of fourteen issues:

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Voters for each party are motivated by significantly different factors:

  • The number-one issue driving Liberal voters is stopping any potential referendum by the PQ (39%), followed by the economy (22%) and the rejection of the Values Charter (10%).
  • The top issue for PQ voters is support of the Values Charter (25%), followed by support for the idea of a referendum (19%), integrity in government and its leaders (19%), and corruption (10%).
  • The top issue for CAQ voters is lower taxes (21%), the economy (14%), to stop a referendum (14%), integrity (12%) and debt repayment/balancing the budget (12%).
  • The top issue for Solidaire supporters is some other issue (20%), followed by integrity (18%) and the environment (16%).

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The PQ and a Referendum...

Since the entry of Pierre Karl Peladeau into the race and his declaration that he desires an independent Quebec, Pauline Marois has been generally unable to convince Quebecers that her party is not actively pursuing a referendum. A slim majority (54%) of Quebecers `agree' (26% strongly/27% somewhat) that `a majority PQ government would hold a referendum in its mandate no matter what', compared to 46% who disagree (14% strongly/32% somewhat). Interestingly, most (83%) Liberal voters believe this to be true, while just 19% of PQ voters feel this way.

Moreover, nearly two in three (63%) `agree' (35% strongly/27% somewhat) that `a vote for the Parti Quebecois is a vote for another referendum', and 37% `disagree' (13% strongly/24% somewhat). While just 26% of PQ supporters say this is the case, most Liberal voters (94%) agree.

Focusing specifically on the PQ, Quebecers are split on whether, if elected, the primary focus of the PQ would be to `provide the best representative government for the people of Quebec', or to `create winning conditions for a referendum on independence/sovereignty'. Interestingly, PQ voters believe they would provide the best government (83%) as opposed to creating winning conditions for a referendum (17%), but Liberal voters believe a PQ government would focus more on a referendum (76%) than governing to the best of its ability (24%).

Integrity Matters...?

While integrity may not be the defining issue of the campaign, the party leaders have spent much time attacking each other in this area. Quebecers were asked to rank the parties and to determine which has the most integrity down to which has the least. The parties with the perceived worst integrity are also the ones garnering the most votes.

Quebec Solidaire performed the best with 59% of Quebecers ranking it among the top 2. Also performing reasonably well on integrity matters is CAQ, with 45% ranking it among the top 2 parties with the most integrity.

In a race to the bottom, both the Liberals and the PQ score poorly. Just one in three (35%) say the Liberals are among the two parties with the most integrity - with 38% rating them dead last. By comparison, 32% say the PQ is among the top two parties with the most integrity, and 34% rate them in last place.

Option Nationale has just 28% of Quebecers believing they're among the parties with the most integrity, but only 17% rate them in last place.

The average scores (a lower score is better because it means a higher average ranking) are: Solidaire (2.3), CAQ (2.7), Option Nationale (3.3), Liberals (3.4) and PQ (3.4). In short, the two largest parties - and the ones with the most vote support - performed the worst on matters of integrity.


If Premier Pauline Marois' liability in the campaign is PKP (previous polling showed a net negative effect on PQ support due to his entry), Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard's liability could be his involvement in the previous Liberal government under Jean Charest. In fact, six in ten (59%) `agree' (27% strongly/31% somewhat) that `Philippe Couillard's credibility is tainted because of his time spent in the Charest government'. Just four in ten (41%) `disagree' (16% strongly/25% somewhat) with this position. Still, with a nine-point lead it doesn't appear to be too much of a drag.

Only 56% of Quebecers are voting for the Party they like the best...

A poll released yesterday by Ipsos and CTV showed the Liberals (37%) with a nine-point lead over the PQ (28%), with the CAQ (19%), Solidaire (13%), Option Nationale (1%) or other parties (2%) trailing. But the vote appears to be as much about trying to block other parties from winning and protest votes as much as it is about voting for the party Quebecers like most.

While 56% of Quebecers say they are voting for their party of choice because they like that party the best, 23% are voting to try and block another party from winning (36% of Liberal voters are using this strategy). One in ten (11%) want to express their disgust with all the other parties (including 22% of CAQ voters and 20% of Solidaire voters). Five percent (5%) have some other motivation behind their party choice, and 5% are unsure of the underlying motive.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between March 28th and April 1st, 2014 on behalf of CTV News. For this survey, a sample of 1,012 Quebecers from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then 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. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all adults in Quebec 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.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Luc Durand
President, Quebec

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