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Public Opinion Survey Following the November 26, 2012 By-Elections

1. Introduction and Methodology

1.1 Context

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, an agent of the Parliament of Canada, exercises direction and supervision over electoral procedures at the federal level. As an independent, non-partisan agency, Elections Canada fulfills a mandate of conducting and monitoring all federal general elections, by-elections and referendums, ensuring that electoral activities are compliant with the provisions of the Canada Elections Act. Elections Canada is also mandated to conduct information programs that educate Canadians, to provide support to commissions charged with adjusting Canada's electoral boundaries, and to conduct research into alternative voting methods. In order to evaluate its performance and to continue to refine its programs and services offered to the electorate and Canadians more broadly, Elections Canada periodically commissions public opinion research following electoral events.

On November 26, 2012, by-elections were held in three federal constituencies: Calgary Centre (Alberta), Durham (Ontario), and Victoria (British Columbia). Elections Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct public opinion research with electors (eligible voters) in these ridings in the days immediately following the by-elections. Elections Canada uses the evidence from its public opinion research to help refine public programs, improve the quality of services delivered, and develop the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations to Parliament. These results will contribute to the broader understanding of trends in Canadians' understanding and perceptions of Elections Canada's services and programs and elements of the electoral process, and challenges and barriers electors may face in participating.

1.2 Methodology

A telephone survey with a total of 1,503 eligible voters was conducted across the three ridings. This sample was collected randomly from the public using a random digit dial (RDD) process to select households. Individuals within households were randomly selected, based on who last celebrated a birthday. Results are considered to be accurate to within +/- 4.4 in each riding, 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, resulting in minor modifications. The survey data collection was conducted between December 6 and 20, 2012. The interview required an average of 14 minutes to administer, with trained, bilingual interviewers. The participation rate in the survey was 16 per cent. In order to increase the representativeness of the sample, the RDD sample was augmented with a small number of cases identified as cell phone only households from the EKOS Research Probit panel of online Canadians. Interviews in these households were also completed by telephone.

Survey results were weighted by age and gender within each riding 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 and income).

Results are presented in the text overall and then in bullets for 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 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.

Readers should note that 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 graphic representation of the results. Results may also not total to 100 per cent due to rounding.