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Public Opinion Survey Following the May 13, 2013 Labrador By-election

1. Introduction and Methodology

1.1 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 May 13, 2013 a by-election was held in the federal electoral district of Labrador. Elections Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct public opinion research with electors (eligible voters) in this riding in the days following the by-election. Elections Canada uses evidence from public opinion research to help refine public programs and develop the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations 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.

1.2 Methodology

A telephone survey with a total of 757 electors was conducted. 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 May 21 and 29, 2013. Individuals within households were randomly selected based on which adult in the household last celebrated a birthday. Results are considered to be accurate to within +/-3.6 percent, 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 minor modifications. The interviews were administered by trained, bilingual interviewers and required an average of 14 minutes to complete. The response rate in the survey was 17 percent.

Survey results were 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 and income).

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 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 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. Results may also not total to 100 percent due to rounding.

When relevant, the results from this survey are compared with the May 2, 2011 general election, as a point of reference.Footnote 3

Footnote 3 It should be noted that the results from the 2011 general election reflect the overall opinion of electors across Canada (n=3570), while the results from this by-election reflect the opinion only of electors within the electoral district of Labrador (n=757).