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Survey of Candidates of the 42nd Federal General Election

Appendix C: Methodological Details and Response rate Table

The research conducted for the Survey of the Candidates of the 42nd Federal General Election consisted of an attempted census of candidates registered for that election, using a dual-mode telephone-online survey questionnaire.

The primary mode of data collecting was computer-assisted telephone interviewing. Respondents who were unable or unwilling to respond by telephone, or who simply preferred to self-administer the survey, were offered a unique link to the online survey along with comprehensive instructions. In total, 916 interviews were completed, with 809 interviews completed by phone and 107 interviews completed online.

The sample of 1,789 candidates was provided by Elections Canada. Information included in the sample included full name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, party affiliation, gender, federal electoral district, whether the candidate won, incumbency status, and whether the candidate placed second in the previous election.

Before any fieldwork commenced, Elections Canada sent a letter introducing the study, from the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, to all candidates. The purpose of the letter was to explain the objectives and purpose of the research; that EKOS Research Associates was retained to conduct the study; that responses by participants in the study are confidential; and to provide contact information for both Elections Canada and EKOS. A 1-800 number was provided to candidates to schedule an interview, if desired.

Elections Canada provided a questionnaire similar to the instrument used in the 2011 and 2008 Candidates Surveys. The survey was then programmed and EKOS Research Associates conducted a thorough review and provided written comments and feedback to Elections Canada. An initial round of test interviews in English were conducted between October 30 and November 2, with 21 interviews completed. The survey data and audio recordings were carefully reviewed and a number of changes were implemented, including question wording, skip logic, removal of questions, and additional instructions for interviewers. Once changes were made to the survey, a second round of testing was conducted between November 10 and November 13, with an additional 24 interviews completed in English. EKOS received and programmed the French version of the questionnaire in mid-November. The French version was tested between November 19 and November 20, with 21 interviews completed.

All candidates with telephone numbers were contacted initially by phone. Cases with a missing telephone number were individually looked up online. Records where a telephone number was found to be invalid (i.e., not the correct number or a number no longer in service) were also subsequently researched online. All candidates from one party (n=60) were listed with a common telephone number and e-mail address for the party office. In those cases, the office was contacted a number of times by phone and e-mail to enlist assistance in distributing an e-mail invitation and/or message to contact EKOS Research to participate in the survey.

Interviews were recorded to ensure data quality, and call-backs were rotated and appointments scheduled throughout the day and evening, across the week to ensure a greater chance of successfully contacting candidates. Up to 12 calls were made. Candidates contacted by telephone who declined to take part in the research were offered the opportunity to complete the survey through the online survey instance. Further, two separate e-mail invitations were sent to candidates who did not complete the survey over the telephone, including those not reached and those where telephone numbers were found to be missing or invalid. Candidates were informed of the sponsor of the survey and provided with the opportunity to leave an e-mail address to be informed once the results of the survey are released.

The survey collection period spanned November 25 to December 21. The delay in starting the survey (i.e., five weeks after the election) likely resulted in reduced participation, compounded by the extension of the survey past early December, which also may have compromised the level of participation. Throughout the course of fieldwork, EKOS provided Elections Canada with weekly updates on data collection progress with details of the numbers of calls made and interviews completed, as well as procedures used to contact candidates, along with response rate.

The survey was registered with the National Survey Registration System and the study sponsor was provided in all contact attempts. Copies of the Elections Canada advance letter were also offered by e-mail or fax to anyone wishing to receive it. The current response rate for the survey based on completed sample out of valid sample (1635) is 54.4 percent. Following are the call results to date.

Disposition Total
BC_-_Blocked_by_Bell 4
BU_-_Business/Fax_/Modem 4
NF2_-_Invalid_-_Final_Attempt 13
NF_-_Invalid_Number 91
AM_-_Answering Machine - Callback 330
AP_-_Callback_-_Specific_time/date 4
NA_-_Callback_general 76
DY_-_Day_Call_Request 1
IR_-_Incomplete_Refusals 7
ON_-_Will_go_Online_to_Complete_Survey 10
RF_-_Refusal 250
UN_-_Unavailable_within_Project_Timeframe 83
CO - Complete 916
Total 1789

Over the course of the survey collection, open-end responses were reviewed and assigned to existing or new category codes. Data quality was also closely monitored through the collection period, starting with a close review of the results from each round of the pretest, and the first day after the survey launch. A data base was created with full variable and value labels, and non-response was assessed based on administrative information in the initial list of candidates provided. The final data were weighted by both party and region as a result of this review. Data tables were produced providing results overall as well as by region, party, outcome of the election, gender and incumbent/non-incumbent status.