Canadian Politics

A11(c) - Electoral and Policy Cleavages in Canada: Evidence from Large-Scale Historical Public Opinion Datasets

Date: Jun 13 | Time: 10:15am to 11:45am | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant (Queen's University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Eric Merkley (University of Toronto)

In recent years, Canadian political scientists have made increasing use of large- scale, historical public opinion datasets to explore Canadian voting behaviour, Canadian party politics, and Canadian political development. In this panel, authors use public opinion datasets from a wide range of sources – Gallup, Canadian Election Study, Environics, and others – to examine long-term trajectories of Canadian voting behaviour and policy attitudes, with a particular focus on the development of demographic and place-based electoral cleavages.

Vote Intention in Canadian Politics: A New Consolidated Dataset, 1945-Present: Tyler Romualdi (Western University), Jack Lucas (University of Calgary), Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant (Queen's University), David Armstrong (Western University)
Abstract: This paper introduces the Canadian Vote Intention Dataset, a consolidated database of public opinion surveys from Gallup, Canadian Election Study, and Environics data series (N>600,000) from 1945 to the present. The database contains vote intention variables as well as a suite of relevant demographic variables, including age, gender, religion, language, education, community size, province, and region. We describe dataset construction and coding, outline the custom annual weights we have constructed, and demonstrate the utility of the dataset in new analyses of the long-term evolution of gender, education, and religion gaps in Canadian party support.

Urban-Rural Policy Disagreement in Canada: Sophie Borwein (Simon Fraser University), Jack Lucas (University of Calgary), Tyler Romualdi (Western University), Zack Taylor (Western University)
Abstract: Abstract: As post-war urbanization has led to dramatic demographic, economic, and cultural differences between urban and rural places in Canada and other countries, scholarship has expressed normative concerns about the so-called “urban-rural divide.” This work has often focused on geographically patterned policy disagreement; in other words, to the extent that urban-rural differences create a need for new forms of representation or institutional reform, these needs are a priority because urban-rural differences reflect distinct – and, in some cases, largely dissimilar – policy preferences. However, we know little about urban-rural attitudinal differences outside of a few specific policy domains, such as immigration, along with a very general understanding that urban places tend to be more ideologically progressive than rural places. In this paper, we use over-time Canadian Election Study data on policy attitudes across many policy issues (N>100,000), combined with a new measure of district urbanity for all Canadian federal electoral districts, to systematically examine the character and timing of urban-rural policy disagreement in Canada. We show that the emergence of urban-rural policy divides has been an important component of urban-rural electoral divides in recent Canadian politics and differ profoundly across policy domains.

The Changing Demography of the Canadian Party System: Richard Johnston (University of British Columbia)
Abstract: This paper revisits and extends some of the historical reconstructions in Johnston (2017). Where the focus in that book was on ethnoreligious foundations of the Liberal vote and union membership for the CCF-NDP vote, this paper will take a more systemic look and will place more emphasis on class and education. Although 20th century patterns are interesting in their own right, they also contain the seeds of changes in this century. Analyses will employ a combination of Gallup data from 1945 to the early 1990s (at which point the data quality plummeted) and CES data (N ~ 120,000) from 1965 to the present, with the overlap helping to splice the series. Gallup data (N ~ 430,000) were furnished by the UBC data library. Data quality issues will be addressed as they crop up.

Canada’s Increasing Class-Based Voting Disparities: Matthew Polacko (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Political participation has declined across established democracies over the past few decades. This has been accompanied by an increase in voting disparities along class lines. In contrast to most advanced democracies, class voting has largely been neglected in Canada. Using the entire series of the Canadian Election Study (1965–2021), I examine the extent to which the voter turnout gap in Canada has changed over time by age, class, education, and income. I find that major class-based participatory inequalities exist in Canada, and these inequalities have worsened over time. The magnitude of the turnout gap between lower and higher socio-economic status (SES) individuals has mainly been driven by the demobilization of lower-SES individuals. The findings contribute to our understanding of how economic inequalities spill over into political inequalities and show that rising inequality in turnout propensity between politically relevant cleavages, represents a deterioration of democratic representation.