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Public Opinion Survey Following the June 30, 2014 Federal By–elections

Section 2: Introduction and Methodology

2.1 Background and Context

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (CEO), an agent of the Parliament of Canada, oversees Elections Canada and exercises direction and supervision over electoral procedures at the federal level. Elections Canada, an independent and non-partisan agency, ensures that electoral activities are compliant with the provisions of the Canada Elections Act. Elections Canada also has the mandate to conduct information programs to educate voters; to provide support for boundary reviews of Canada's electoral districts; and to conduct research into alternative voting methods and the use of technology in elections. Elections Canada periodically commissions public opinion research following electoral events to evaluate its performance in fulfilling this mandate.

On June 30th, 2014 by–electionss were held in four federal electoral districts: Trinity—Spadina, Scarborough—Agincourt, Fort McMurray—Athabasca and Macleod. Elections Canada commissioned The Strategic Counsel to conduct public opinion research with electors (eligible voters) in these ridings in the period following the by–elections. Elections Canada uses evidence from public opinion research to help refine public programs and develop the Chief Electoral Officer's report to Parliament. Public opinion research also contributes to the broader understanding of trends in Canadians' understanding and perceptions of Elections Canada's services and programs and the electoral process, and challenges and barriers that electors may face in participating.

2.2 Methodology

A telephone survey of a total of 1,600 electors was conducted (a total of 400 electors in each of the four electoral districts). This sample was collected randomly from the public using a random digit dial (RDD) process to select households. The survey data collection was conducted between July 29th and August 19th, 2014. Results for the total sample are considered to be accurate to within +/-2.45 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Results for each elector district are considered to be accurate within +/-4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. In order to test the questionnaire, a small set of interviews was completed and results reviewed, including a thorough vetting of the audio recordings of the interviews, which resulted in no modifications. The interviews were administered by trained, bilingual interviewers and required an average of 10 minutes to complete. The overall response rate to the survey was 10 percent. The response rates by riding were: Trinity—Spadina (11%), Scarborough—Agincourt (9%), Fort McMurray—Athabasca (9%), and Macleod (9%). Up to 8 call backs were made to reach a qualified respondent per household.

Survey results are weighted by age and gender to reflect population characteristics, due to a slight under-representation of men and a moderate under-representation of electors under the age of 35. Open-ended responses were reviewed and coded and banner tables created to explore results by key demographic characteristics (e.g. age, gender, education, household income and employment status).

Results overall and by riding are presented in text, charts, and tables. Bulleted text is used to describe specific segments of the sample if they are statistically different from the overall results for the entire sample. If differences are not noted in the report it may be assumed that they are either not statistically significant in their variation from the overall result or that the difference was deemed to be substantively too small to be noteworthy. The following labels are used to refer to each of the four federal electoral districts:

Readers should note that results for the proportion of respondents in the sample that said either "Don't know" or did not provide a response may not be indicated in the graphical representation of the results. Also note that results may not total to 100 percent due to rounding.