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Survey of Candidates of the 41st Federal General Election


Phoenix SPI was commissioned by Elections Canada to conduct a survey of candidates who ran in the 2011 federal general election.

Background and Objectives

Elections Canada, an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament, is responsible for monitoring and conducting federal elections in Canada. As part of its post-election evaluation program, Elections Canada wanted to conduct a census survey of candidates who ran in the 41st federal general election held on May 2nd, 2011. This research was consistent with, and supportive of, the three strategic objectives of the Agency's five-year strategic plan (covering 2008-2013); specifically 'Trust', 'Accessibility', and 'Engagement'Footnote 1.

As a follow-up to the baseline survey conducted with candidates of the 2008 general election, the main objectives of this survey were to:

  1. Assess candidates' trust in the Agency;

  2. Measure perceptions of the Canadian electoral system; and

  3. Assess satisfaction with the administration of the election, as well as with the services provided to candidates by the Agency.

In addition, the survey was designed to track key issues to determine changes in perceptions over time, and to help the Agency identify areas for improvement.

Research Plan

To address the research objectives, a census survey was undertaken among candidates who ran in the last federal general election. In total, 1,008 candidates out of 1,587 completed the survey between May 16th and June 30th, 2011. This represents a strong response rate of 67%, up from 59% in 2008 (once invalid/out-of-service telephone numbers that could not be updated were excluded from the universe). It is also worth noting that the refusal rate among candidates that were contacted was correspondingly low at only 9%. Since this was a census, there was no sampling involved and therefore no margin of error.

Elections Canada provided a questionnaire largely based on what had been developed for the 2008 general election. New subjects covered in 2011 included polling site accessibility, including directional signage inside and outside and signs indicating level-access. Phoenix reviewed the questionnaire and provided comments in writing.

For a more fulsome overview of the methodology used in this research, please refer to the methodology note included under separate cover.

Note to Readers

  • For editorial purposes, the terms 'candidates' and 'respondents' are used interchangeably to denote survey participants.

  • All results in the report are expressed as a percentage, unless otherwise noted.

  • Unless otherwise specified, the total number of respondents for each question is 1,008. The number of respondents changes throughout the report, however, because questions were often asked of sub-samples of the survey population. Accordingly, readers should be aware of this and exercise caution when interpreting results based on smaller numbers of respondents.

  • Throughout the report, percentages may not always add to 100 due to rounding.

  • For key issues, results are compared to the findings from the baseline survey of candidates that was conducted following the 2008 general election.

  • Sub-group differences are identified throughout the report. The text describing these differences appears in sections titled "Sociodemographic Differences" identified with shaded boxes for easy identificationFootnote 2. Only differences that are significant at the 95% confidence level or part of pattern or trend are reported. The full breakdown of the grouping of characteristics for the subgroup analyses discussed in the report can be found in the report appendix.

Included under separate cover (available on request) are the following:

  • Research design and fielding specifications note

  • Response rate and call disposition information

  • Identification of subgroup characteristics

  • Survey questionnaire (telephone and online versions)

  • Background letters (main version)

  • Interviewer briefing note.

Footnote 1 Elections Canada. 2008-2013 Strategic Plan.

Footnote 2 In the HTML version published on Elections Canada's website (, these boxes are delineated by a hidden tag inserted before, labeled "Beginning of box" and one inserted after, labeled “End of box” in order to enhance accessibility of the document.