Voters indicate that their neighbours, by an edge, support the Liberals over the NDP.
One of the challenges of polling in any election cycle is to first get behind the horse race numbers but also to get a sense of what voter turnout will be. Further, it is imperative that pollsters improve their ability to triangulate diverse data sources to bring depth to the fundamentals of tracking voter intentions. During this writ period, experimenting with an online data collection platform (see note below*), Justason Marketing Intelligence and zinc tank have teamed up to offer regular insights on this Provincial Election. This is a follow piece looking at social cues in an election cycle.
Yesterday, Wave 1 – Voter Intentions – BC Election 2017 that mirrored some shifts presented in other polls that were covered in the media. (Many have thought: Given what happened in 2013, what does that lead mean for the NDP?) At the same time, we fielded another question asking respondents who they thought their neighbours would vote for. And the differences were significant with the neighbour question, and confirmed the broader belief that this election is still close and a belief in the strength of the Liberals.
Adopting techniques from psychology and behavioural economics on social desirability bias, crowd dynamics and social conditioning, we conducted two 1Question Google Surveys voter intention polls two ways – one where we asked people who they intend to vote for, and the other with putting themselves into the minds of their neighbours and how they think they will vote. (Note, the unsures/not voting was lower than self-intentions – hence, a belief that voter turnout is actually higher that what it actually is. Here, self was 63%, neighbours perceived to be 68%, and actual turnout in 2013 was 55%. It is imperative that we begin to have this discussion about modeling a voting population.)
We then considered the data from a decided voter perspective (see data tables below). When asked how they will vote in the upcoming election, 39% indicated they would be voting for the NDP, 36% for the Liberals and 19% for the Greens. When asked how they think their neighbours will vote, 42% indicated that their neighbours will be voting for the Liberals (+6), while 40% will vote for the NDP (+1), and 17% for the Greens. This 6 point gap in perception (42% for the Liberals) and intention (36% for the Liberals) is revealing and significant. And the gap increases with 18 to 54 years demographic. And among men. Of interest, intention and perception are generally in alignment for NDP (with a slight lift for women (+3%)), while the Greens’ self-reported intention is higher than perception.
With low voter turnouts, many have indicated that there is futility to voting if the result is already predetermined, as well as lower willingness to hold a party card. And some may say that we, as voters, have been socially conditioned to specific crowd dynamics. And many voters believe that this fallacy is true. These two 1Question polls get at that issue where peoples’ perceptions do not necessarily translate into the reality of self-perception, and that there are likely more people out there who actually do seek something different in the governance of BC.
Regionally, there are some differences worth noting (note: caution with regional subsamples).
- City of Vancouver: Self-reported voting intentions (23%) for the Greens is higher than perceptions (14%), while still trailing the NDP.
- Balance of Greater Vancouver Region: This appears to be a competitive region between the Liberals and NDP, and where perceptions are equal (both 43%). Both parties will likely focus efforts in this area.
- Capital Region: Higher perceptions of neighbours supporting Greens (34%) compared to stated personal intentions (27%). However, both still behind the NDP. It is likely that Liberals will reduce their efforts in this area.
- Vancouver/Gulf Islands: While the NDP hold a strong lead, there is strong interest in voting Green relative to Liberal. However, the perception is that the Liberals are performing stronger than the Greens. This type of alignment may create a few interesting races to watch on May 9.
- Northern BC: While there is a stronger perception of the strength of the NDP, this region appears firmly Liberal.
- South/Rest of BC: These region looks like it may deliver some surprises. While self-reported intentions are close, there is 22 point gap in perception that favours the Liberals. With 5 out of 6 regions in play for the NDP, they may consider firming the campaign in these areas to capitalize on this latent desire for change.
Opposition parties should consider this result very carefully to illuminate this fact of perceptions of neighbours, against one’s own beliefs. In understanding and becoming aware of this dynamic, voters could take greater confidence in exhibiting their willingness to consider something different, given that they realize that they are more like themselves within their neighbourhood/community with similar voting intentions in any election cycle. However, the challenge remains for any party to get stronger alignment between societal perceptions and personal intentions. At this point, the Liberals have the strength in perception – that and a “moneyball” type campaign, a committed demographic and GOTV effort stumped pollsters in 2013. The NDP, while generally aligned, need to grow both perceptions and intentions in tandem, while engaging and instilling a sense of urgency in their supporters to stay committed and vote.
For more information, contact Barb Justason, 604.783.4165 or Brian F. Singh, 403.861.9462.
* THIS SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED VIA GOOGLE SURVEYS OVER (APRIL 18-20, 2017). GOOGLE SURVEYS USES A COMBINATION OF BAYESIAN, RIVER-SAMPLING METHODOLOGY ONLINE AND MOBILE AND TAPPING INTO GOOGLE COMMUNITIES TO YIELD A POPULATION REFLECTIVE SAMPLE OF BC’S POPULATION. HENCE, NO MARGIN OF ERROR IS REPORTED. OF NOTE, BC HAS A HIGH PENETRATION RATE OF MOBILE USAGE IN NORTH AMERICA, AND BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS EXCEEDS LAND LINE USAGE. GOOGLE SURVEYS CONTINUES TO BE RATED FAVOURABLY (RATED BY 538: B), AND WAS USED EXTENSIVELY BY BRIAN F. SINGH IN HIS WORK ON BRIAN BOWMAN’S SUCCESSFUL MAYORAL CAMPAIGN IN THE 2014 WINNIPEG MUNICIPAL ELECTION, AND DURING THE ALBERTA AND FEDERAL ELECTIONS IN 2015. GOOGLE SURVEYS IS BUT ONE METHODOLOGY IN A POLLSTERS TOOLKIT WHILE NOT DEFINITIVE (AS HAS BEEN WITNESSED WITH OTHER POLLING METHODS), IT PROVIDES QUALITY DIRECTIONAL DATA THAT IS ABLE TO STAND ON ITS OWN AND IN CONCERT WITH OTHER MODES OF DATA COLLECTION, AND WE CROSS VALIDATE ITS FINDINGS FROM OTHER POLLING FIRMS THAT USE OTHER FORMS OF TRADITIONAL POLLING.