TNS Canadian Facts has released some fascinating results from a new survey asking Canadians what they really think about the idea of a coalition government, and the results are not going to make Stephen Harper very happy. The survey clearly says that most Canadians accept a coalition government, and many of us would accept one where two minority parties form the government.
The survey results are shown here in easy-to-read graphical form. Here are some of the – to me – very interesting results:
- 48% of Canadians would find a coalition of minority parties acceptable
- In addition, another 18% answered that they didn’t know or “It depends”
- It seems to me that, if a coalition formed and did even a halfway respectable job of governing, most of this 18% would find the coalition acceptable
The surveyors asked two similar but critically different questions about coalition scenarios, but neglected to post the responses to the most interesting. The questions to which I am referring are (rephrased here for brevity and clarity):
- Which coalition scenario do you prefer?
- Which coalition scenario is acceptable?
The first question is certainly interesting (Liberal-NDP was the first choice at 29%), but to me the second is the most useful and interesting. As the Rolling Stones famously sang,
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need
I think most of us accept this in politics, and many of us think a coalition could be just what Canada needs right now.
I have written the company requesting the answers.
UPDATE 18 April: Answers received, and it is very revealing. Thanks to Norman Baillie-David of TNS Global.
First, the acceptable results are shown in the chart opposite. Fully 70% of Canadians find a Liberal-NDP coalition completely or somewhat acceptable, or are ambivalent. If Mr. Harper has seen this, he must be very, very worried.
My second questions was about survey methodology, in which they called only landlines. Mr Baillie-David’s response quoted in full:
Secondly, while you raise a valid point about cell-phone only households, and this is an emerging trend in other countries, the proportion of Canadian households currently characterized as “cell-phone only, i.e. no landline, sits currently at approximately 8% (various sources). From many previous studies, we know that while these households differ on a number of different demographics (more likely to be younger, male and single), their opinions do not differ from the wider population in a strong enough manner to cause a “statistically significant difference” in the overall results. In other words, for a survey this size, using cell-phone only households wouldn’t move the overall results by more than the margin of error of 3.1%. Therefore, due to the cost and logistical difficulty of obtaining and sampling cell-phone only households, we do not yet include them in our ExpressTel omnibus surveys; however, this is continuously open to review and will likely change as the number of cell-phone only households continue to rise.
How about you? What are your thoughts on a coalition? Take the simple poll below.
Note: I deliberately excluded coalitions including the Bloc because that option is not favoured by most in all surveys to date, and generally coalitions do not include the Bloc anyway. The Bloc simply agrees not to bring down the coalition government on a confidence vote.