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By David Coletto

Each day during the 2021 Federal Election campaign, researchers at Abacus Data will share insights and analysis from our polling in concise, insights-focused reports. To never miss our polls and analysis, subscribe to our newsletter.

Let’s face it, apart from political junkies like me, most people don’t love politics. Elections matter but some elections are more interesting than others. Some are close and the outcome unpredictable. Others have a defining issue that galvanizes voters and spikes interest. Others are change elections that mobilize voters to “throw the bums out” while others feature dynamic, new political leaders that excite voters.

Will voters be engaged or not in this election?

In our pre-election survey of 3,000 Canadians, we asked how interested respondents were in the upcoming election on a scale from 1 to 10.

Overall, interest in this election appears as high as measured in the second week of the 2019 campaign.

70% of respondents said they have a high level of interest (7 to 10) while another 21% said they were moderately interested (4 to 6) while 9% said they had little interest in the campaign (1 to 3).

Back in September 2019, 69% said they had a high interest in the campaign. So early indications are that Canadians are as engaged as they were back in 2019 despite it being in summer and perhaps because it’s coming in the midst of a global pandemic.

Our survey finds that older Canadians are more interested than younger Canadians while those planning to vote Liberal or Conservative are more likely to have high interest than those planning to vote NDP, Green, or Bloc Quebecois.

UPSHOT

Too often pundits and commentators decry the lack of interest in politics or suggest that interest in any given election will be low without evidence to back up their claim.

I recall this happening during the 2019 campaign.

But early indications from our research suggest that Canadians are as interested in this election as they were back in 2019. That could change of course – interest could increase or dissipate as the campaign progresses.

Interest in the election and politics more generally matters a lot. It impacts voter turnout (definitely read this book about it), it could impact differential turnout (supporters of certain parties being more motivated to vote than others), and it impacts how people react to campaign events. An electorate engaged in a campaign will be paying closer attention and therefore could react more to the campaign.

More importantly this time, despite a summer election call in the midst of the 4th wave of COVID-19 cases, most Canadians say they are at least moderately interested in this campaign.

Let’s not assume no one is paying attention. The Trump era in the US taught us that elections and politics matter. Canadians are paying attention, so far, this time.

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted with 3,000 Canadian adults from August 6 to 11, 2021. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 1.8%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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