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Survey of Candidates of the 42nd Federal General Election

1. Introduction and Methodology

1.1 Context

Headed by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Elections Canada (EC) is an independent, non-partisan agency of Parliament. Its primary mandate is to be prepared at all times to administer an electoral event. Elections Canada periodically commissions public opinion research following electoral events to evaluate its performance in fulfilling this mandate.

On October 19, 2015, the 42nd federal general election was held in Canada. Elections Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a census telephone survey of candidates who ran in the election. The research objectives were to measure candidates' levels of satisfaction with EC's services during the 42nd federal general election and to learn about their experiences with the electoral process in general, particularly in light of the recent changes arising from Bill C-23 (the Fair Elections Act). Where relevant, the results from this survey will be compared with the results from the surveys of candidates following the 40th and 41st federal general elections.

1.2 Methodology

A hybrid telephone-online survey with a total of 916 candidates was conducted (809 completed by phone, 107 completed online). This survey was done using a list of 1,791 candidates that was provided by Elections Canada.

The questionnaire was first tested in two rounds in English and one round in French with a total of more than 60 candidates. The test included a review of the results and a thorough vetting of the audio recordings of the interviews, resulting in some modifications to a few questions and additional branching logic.

The interview was administered by trained, bilingual interviewers and required an average of 19 minutes to complete. The final questionnaire appears in Appendix A. Several weeks prior to the survey collection, candidates were sent an information letter from the Chief Electoral Officer informing them about the objectives and timing of the survey. This letter appears in Appendix B.

The survey was initiated five weeks after the election and spanned four weeks (from November 25 and December 21, 2015). Out of 1,791 cases attempted, 1,635 were found to be valid. Cases were found to be invalid if the phone number was incorrect and the correct number could not be found. A response rate of 54 percent was obtained on the 1,635 cases found to be valid in the population. Details of the methods used to collect the survey appear in Appendix C.

Survey results were weighted by candidate age and party, as well as whether the candidate was an incumbent, to reflect population characteristics of all candidates. Open-ended responses were reviewed and coded and banner tables created to explore results by key characteristics (e.g., region, age, gender, parties represented in the House of Commons versus those not represented, and election outcome).

Notes to readers

Overall results are presented in text, charts and tables. Bulleted text is used to describe specific segments of the sample if they are statistically and substantively different from the overall results for the entire sample. If differences are not noted in the report, it can 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.

Results for the proportion of respondents in the sample who either said "don't know" or did not provide a response may not be indicated in the graphic representation of the results. Results may also not total to 100 percent due to rounding

When relevant and possible, the results from this survey are compared with previous results from the 40th and the 41st general elections, as a point of reference.

1.3 Sample Characteristics

Following are the characteristics of the sample of the 916 candidates included in the survey. Results are presented in terms of weighted percentage distributions, with the exception of results for age and party affiliation of candidates, as well as whether they were an incumbent, for which unweighted distributions are presented in the table.

Table 1: Key Sample Characteristics
n= 916
Newfoundland and Labrador 1%
Prince Edward Island 1%
Nova Scotia 3%
New Brunswick 2%
Quebec 25%
Ontario 36%
Manitoba 4%
Saskatchewan 4%
Alberta 10%
British Columbia 13%
Nunavut/Northwest Territories/YukonFootnote 1 0%
Male 72%
Female 28%
Age (unweighted results)
n= 870
<35 20%
35-54 41%
55-64 28%
65+ 10%
Respondent party (unweighted results)
n= 916
Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) 15%
Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) 18%
New Democratic Party (NDP) 21%
Green Party of Canada (GPC) 22%
Bloc Québécois (BQ) 4%
Other 20%
Respondent elected
Yes 16%
No 84%
Respondent is an incumbent (unweighted results)
Yes 8%
No 92%
Respondent placed second in previous election
Yes 2%
No 98%
Including the October 2015 election, how many times have you run as a candidate at the federal level?
n= 913
1 69%
2 13%
3+ 18%
Don't know 1%

Footnote 1 A total of four cases were collected across the territories.