CJN readers have spoken and the results are in: a plurality believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party are the leader and party of choice in the upcoming national election on Oct. 19.
Harper received 44 per cent of support in an online poll conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 7. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was second, with 39 per cent support, trailed by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair at 15 per cent.
The Conservative party mirrored its leader’s result, gaining the support of 44 per cent of poll participants, edging the Liberals’ 40 per cent and the NDP’s 14 per cent.
Eleven hundred and nine people took part in the online poll, which asked three questions: “Which party leader do you believe is best positioned to lead Canada?”; “Which party do you intend to vote for?”; and “How much does Israel figure into your voting decision?” On the last question, 43 per cent answered “not at all,” while 34 per cent responded “somewhat” and 19 per cent said “to a great extent.” Another four per cent said Israel was “the most important issue,” bringing the total number who said Israel played a role in their voting to 57 per cent.
Though not considered a scientific poll, the results are interesting, giving credence to the contention that the Conservative party’s strong support of Israel – “through fire and water” Conservative candidates often repeat – has resonated with many Jewish voters. Liberal party and NDP candidates have also repeated their strong support of Israel throughout the campaign, particularly in ridings with substantial Jewish populations.
Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said some of the poll results were surprising. Only 23 per cent of participants said the party’s positions on Israel was an important consideration in where they placed their support, he noted.
Wiseman suggested that had the poll been taken during the last general election, the role of Israel would have been stronger and the support for the Conservatives would have been greater. At that time, the Liberals were led by Michael Ignatieff, who during Israel’s war against Hezbollah, had told an audience in Quebec that Israeli actions could amount to war crimes. That contrasted sharply with the Conservative position, he said, noting that an Ipsos exit poll at the time showed Jewish support for the Conservatives at 52 per cent, higher than the national average of around 40 per cent.
Wiseman suggested that the Liberal and NDP emphasis on strong support for Israel may peel back Jewish voters who had left those parties for the Tories. He said Jews are not immune to a nationwide trend, as revealed in polls, that showed voters are eager for change. Not only will that cost the Tories votes, but it should see strategic voters, who had swung to the NDP in a bid to unseat Harper, swing back to the Liberals as a more electable opponent to the Conservatives.
The upshot is to make the re-election of Conservatives more difficult in the ridings with substantial Jewish populations, he said.
Nevertheless, he continued, “I still expect more Jewish support for the Conservatives than was the case historically.”
Cjnews.com readers from across the country participated in the poll, along with small numbers in foreign locales such as the United States, Finland and even Cyprus.
The largest number of respondents came from the Greater Toronto Area, but there was also substantial participation in other large urban centres, including Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and the Vancouver area.
The CJN poll shows that readers support Harper and the Tories in greater proportion than the general population. Recent national polls have oscillated greatly, with the Conservative and Liberal parties trading the lead in recent weeks. In some surveys, Conservative support was as high as 37 per cent and as low as 30 per cent, while the Liberals have polled between 27 per cent and 35 per cent. The New Democrats appear to have peaked at 28 per cent and are, as of Oct. 7, at around 24 per cent support.
An Oct. 7 Nanos poll had the Liberals in the lead, with 33.5 per cent, followed by the Tories at 31.6 per cent and the NDP at 24.2 per cent.
Commenting on The CJN’s poll, CJN president Elizabeth Wolfe said, “Our national election poll was the first, to our knowledge, to canvass voter intentions across the Canadian Jewish community. There is always speculation as to how Jews will vote, but until now, there has been no real opportunity to test assumptions. The CJN is uniquely positioned to poll Jewish voters and to report on the results.
“This, The CJN’s inaugural poll, represents a new venture for cjnews.com as the medium to gauge Canadian Jewish opinion and to create a platform for concerned Jews to consider a broad range of perspectives. We look forward to creating many opportunities to engage our readers online and to attract Canadian Jews everywhere to our digital conversation,” she said.