the outcome of this election may well be decided by swing and undeclared voters

Insights

Much has been said over the past few years about Canada’s “middle class,” and which party or leader is trying to help them with which policies. It is likely beside the point that what the middle class is, and who it includes, is an ongoing debate. The reality is that many Canadians consider themselves to be middle class – particularly when qualifiers like “upper-middle” and “lower-middle” class are included in the calculation.

 

So what about election 2015 and the middle class? In a July 2015 survey, Environics asked 2,000 Canadians to rank a number of potential priorities for the country over the coming year – in essence, asking Canadians what issues they want their leaders and government to focus on.

 

Among the issues covered, the responses fall into three tiers:

 

1) Improving health care (65%) and creating jobs (62%) are each deemed a top priority by about two-thirds of Canadians.

2) Protecting the environment (45%) and helping the middle class (42%) are considered a top priority by about four in ten.

3) Reducing government deficits (35%) and reducing crime (32%) are top priorities for about one in three Canadians.

 

When we look at these results by party preferences, the results reveal a mix of issues with wider and more specific appeal. Improving health care, for example, is a top priority for almost six in ten (or more) across the partisan divide.

Protecting the environment and helping the middle class are more often deemed as top priorities by NDP supporters, while Conservatives are the most likely to prioritize reducing the deficit and reducing crime. The issue that most differentiates Liberal supporters from others is job creation – perhaps the reason behind that party’s willingness to talk openly about deficits and infrastructure spending.

The Conservative emphasis on keeping taxes low and making sure that a life sentence means life in prison is consistent with its supporters’ top priorities. And the NDP, for its part, appears to be touching on many of the issues prioritized by its supporters by emphasizing jobs, child care, the environment, communities, retirement security and health care in its platform.

Undecided voters, should they decide to engage in the election, could be drawn in various directions if their prioritization of these issues is any indication. And the outcome of this election may well be decided by swing and undeclared voters and where they end up on polling day.

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