Q01 - Trust and Elections I

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 08:30am to 10:00am | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : David Houle (Public secteur / Secteur public)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Jérôme Couture (Université Laval)

Trust is among the most studied concept in political science. This panel seeks to understand and maintain voters’ trust toward the accuracy of the election results and electoral integrity. It also aims to discuss trends in trust among different subgroups of the population and the factors that drive institutional trust.

The Regional Dimensions of Institutional Trust in Canada – An Analysis of Recent Public Opinion Research Commissioned by Elections Canada: Asif Hameed (Elections Canada)
Abstract: Arguably the primary structure for the articulation of interest in Canada, regionalism has effectively rendered the notion of a uniform national Canadian political culture impossible (Wesley and Wong, 2022; Leuprecht, 2003; Simeon, 1977) – as such, understanding a vital democratic trend such as the retrenchment of political trust in Canada requires a consideration of the dynamics of region. Using data from Elections Canada’s 2019 and 2021 National Electors Studies, alongside multiple waves of the Agency’s Tracking Survey on Electoral Matters, the proposed project will assess the regional dimensions of various aspects of political, institutional, and generalized trust in Canada to make the case that while trust remains a significant national issue, its retrenchment across the country is hardly uniform in nature.

Canadian Electors: Are They the Same People?: Vanessa Fernandez (Elections Canada), Conall Mac Cionnaith (Elections Canada), Jacques Ewoudou (Elections Canada)
Abstract: Available empirical evidence clearly suggests that the Canadian electorate is highly diverse in terms of socioeconomic attributes, electoral engagement, opinions, and behaviors related to federal elections and the federal electoral process. However, public opinion research typically takes a top-down, often unidimensional, approach to sub-group analyses, examining differences through pre-defined categories. This top-down approach may miss subtleties in both the diversity and similarity of the Canadian electorate. Using data from Elections Canada's National Electors Study (NES), this study examines the extent to which such observed diversity masks inherent similarities. Our motivation for this study comes from the fact that the diversity of the Canadian electorate is often construed as an indication of how dissimilar these same electors are. We propose to put to the test of data, the theory that notable similarities in electors’ values and behaviours might hide behind the observed diversity of the electorate. We aim to statistically uncover and comparatively analyze the different latent classes that might inherently exist among Canadian electors, shedding light on key commonalities that may be masked by apparent differences among Canadian electors. These insights could be valuable from many vantage points to Elections Canada and could inform ongoing programmatic and policy efforts to foster electoral engagement amongst Canadian electors, especially new and future voters. Arguably, this research could prove relevant to Elections Canada's key conversations, efforts and activities targeted at electors. More generally, this study may be a useful guide for political scientists interested in uncovering unique emergent subpopulations in their own datasets.

Painting a portrait of trust in Public Institutions Among Canadian Electors: A multidimensional approach using the 2021 National Electors Study: Conall Mac Cionnaith (Elections Canada), Vanessa Fernandez (Elections Canada), Jacques Ewoudou (Elections Canada)
Abstract: Trust in public institutions, hereafter referred to as institutional trust, is foundational to the perceived legitimacy of these institutions and is a barometer of public satisfaction with an institution’s performance. Unsurprisingly, being perceived as trustworthy by the public is important for public institutions. Consequently, researchers and decisionmakers have a renewed interest in the processes that generate institutional trust. However, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2017), trust measured in a unidimensional manner is too simplistic to fully capture this complex construct. Any robust measure of institutional trust should simultaneously account for correlates of perceived institutional competence and values. Unidimensional measures may, therefore, not be very informative to decisionmakers aiming to foster institutional trust. To the best of our knowledge, no studies have yet implemented the OECD’s framework for measuring institutional trust multidimensionally in the Canadian setting. Therefore, this study seeks to create a multidimensional measure of trust in Elections Canada using the 44th National Elector Survey (2021). We will create a composite institutional trust score based on the public’s perception of Elections Canada’s competence (i.e., responsiveness and reliability) and values (i.e., integrity, openness, and fairness), capturing the OECD’s suggested sub-dimensions of institutional trust. This composite trust score allows us to identify subpopulations of Canadian electors based on institutional trust, demographics, opinions, and behaviors. By multidimensionally mapping out the Canadian electorate regarding institutional trust, this study will help inform ongoing policy and programmatic conversations, especially civic education efforts and outreach activities targeted at new and future electors.