Tuesday, February 19, 2013

UPDATED: Dual Senate Polls Show Canadians Prefer Reform Over Abolishment

The National Post has been crowing today about a poll done by Ipsos Reid, which shouts that "more than one-third" of Canadians want the Senate abolished, a headline which is just a tad bit sensationalized, but is passable.

I don't have the exact link to the Ipsos Poll, due to not wanting to have to pay for a subscription, but I do have one to a recent Forum poll that was done on the same subject. Both of these polls have showed that the elected Senate option is preferred by at least 40% of respondents, while abolishment was preferred by roughly a third.

Ipsos Reid/Forum Research Polls on Senate Future
Prefer Elected Senate: 42%/40%
Prefer Abolishment: 36%/31%
Prefer Stay the Same: 22%/14%

The Ipsos poll makes a special note that there has been a big drop for the Elected (or Reform) option, while Abolishment jumped up. This is compared to 2007 numbers; Forum compares their numbers to last year, and found little change.

Both polls had regionals, though only some of the Ispos ones were mentioned in the National Post article - and there were some obvious discrepancies with Forum's findings. The main one I found is that Ipsos says 52% of Atlantic Canadians prefer to abolish the Senate; Forum says only 35% want it abolished, tied with the reform option. Forum also says that 55% of Albertans want the Senate reformed, compared to 25% that want it abolished; Ipsos says 39% of Albertans want it abolished.

I have to assume that the regionals are quite a bit different between these polls, though the results national are generally similar. What this may mean about the future of Senate reform is difficult to say - except that it could be possibly contentious. There may have been movement towards the Abolish option, but a plurality of Canadians still prefer to see it reformed - not to mention that a still-significant portion of respondents prefer no change at all. How deep the attachment of respondents go to these options is also unknown. Personally, I think a lot of those supporting the Abolish option would settle for effective reform of the Senate.

Forum also asked for people's party preferences, and the results were actually pretty interesting. 39% of NDP respondents said they supported an Elected Senate; only 30% said they preferred it to be abolished. The latter option was more popular among the Conservatives (31%), Greens (33%), and the Bloc (45%), while the Liberals were only slightly less likely to support abolishment (28%).

For the Elected option, 42% of Conservatives, 38% of Liberals, and 54% of Greens supported it. The status quo option was fairly static across the board, except for the Greens, who had only 2% of respondents support that option.

None of these results surprise me, except for the NDP. The sample size for the NDP in this poll is smaller than the Liberals, probably based off of Forum's recent federal poll. It's likely that more of their core support is among that sample - yet an elected Senate remains the more popular option. Or, on this topic there are a lot of undecided Dippers.

Either way, you'd think more NDP supporters would be in support of abolishing the Senate.


Angus Reid also came out with a poll on the Senate's future, and its broadly the same, with 40% supporting reform, 37% supporting abolishment, and 5% supporting the status quo.

However, Angus Reid went a step further and asked people what they could support if the reform option was the one that went ahead. As I said earlier, the people proposing the abolishment of the Senate will settle for effective reform, shown by the fact that 67% of respondents said they could support an Elected Senate, alongside some other reforms.

Give it a read, its fairly interesting.

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