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Public Opinion Survey Following the March 19th, 2012 By-election in Toronto–Danforth (Ontario)


Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc. was commissioned by Elections Canada to conduct a survey of electors eligible to vote in the March 19th, 2012 by-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 evaluation program, the agency wanted to conduct a survey of electors in the Toronto–Danforth (Ontario) electoral district in which a by-election was held on March 19th, 2012. The purpose of the survey was to evaluate electors' opinions, experience, attitudes and knowledge of the agency's services and various aspects of the electoral process.

More specifically, surveyed Canadians were consulted on the following issues:

  • Participation and attitudes underlying voting and non-voting
  • Convenience (voting location, accessibility, signage, distance, time, etc.)
  • Satisfaction with registration and voting, including services at the polls
  • Attitudes towards, and experience with voter identification requirements
  • Level of penetration of the various communication products and the level of retention of the information conveyed through the products.

The results will be used to assist in evaluating and refining Elections Canada's programs and services to the electorate, and to provide information that will help inform the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations to Parliament.

Research Design

A telephone survey was conducted with 750 eligible electors. Eligible electors were Canadian citizens, at least 18 years of age on March 19th, 2012, who were residents of the Toronto–Danforth federal electoral district from February 15th, 2012, the first day of revision, until March 19th, 2012, election day. Based on a sample of this size, the overall results are accurate to within ±3.6%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is greater for results pertaining to subgroups of the total sample.

The following specifications applied to the survey:

  • The fieldwork was conducted April 10th to 24th, 2012.
  • All interviewing was conducted in the respondent's official language of choice.
  • Interviews averaged 14 minutes in length.
  • Elections Canada provided a questionnaire based on what had been used for previous by-elections. Phoenix made minor changes in consultation with Elections Canada.
  • The survey was registered with the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association's (MRIA) National Survey Registration System.
  • The survey was conducted in accordance with the standards set out by the MRIA, as well as applicable federal legislation, including the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada's private sector privacy law.

For a more complete 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 'electors,' 'eligible voters,' and 'respondents' are used interchangeably to denote survey participants. The term 'voters' denotes survey participants who reported having voted.
  • All results in the report are expressed as percentages, unless otherwise noted.
  • In some specific cases where the sample size is noticeably small, the total unweighted number is presented instead of percentages.
  • Throughout the report, percentages may not always add to 100% due to rounding.
  • The number of respondents changes throughout the report 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.
  • At times, the number of respondents who answered certain questions or answered in a certain way is provided. The following method is used to denote this: 'n=100', which means the number of respondents, in this instance, is 100.
  • Demographic and other subgroup differences are identified in the report. The text describing these differences throughout the report is put in a shaded box for easy identification.Footnote a When reporting sub-group variations, only differences that are significant at the 95% confidence level, indicative of a pattern, and/or pertaining to a sub-group sample size of more than n=30 are discussed in the report.
  • Where relevant, the results are compared to that of the May 02, 2011, general election, as a reference point.Footnote 4

Footnote a 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.

Footnote 4 It must be noted that the results from the 2011 general election reflect the opinion of electors across Canada, while the results from the by-election only reflect the opinion of electors within the electoral district of Toronto–Danforth.