February 11, 2011: The plurality of CARP members say both that they are worse off now than five years ago AND that the country is heading in the right direction. This signals the dichotomy in members’ minds – while their residual loyalty to the Conservative party is evident, it is clear they know this government has done them no good.
We have seen a gradual erosion of confidence in government priorities in the past year and a half of polling, and it appears that CARP members may be approaching the point where their electoral inertia no longer prevents them from acting in their own interest.
When asked to rank the four federalist leaders on their ability to handle a number of core electoral issues, Stephen Harper is preferred strongly on the economy, less so on pension reform and home and health care:
When asked which party, if elected, would act on a number of key CARP issues, the Conservatives are preferred for ending compulsory RRIF withdrawals. The NDP is strongly preferred for increasing OAS and GIS and supporting home care. The Liberals are tied with others for issues of interest to older Canadians overall, extending CPP or some other pension plan and for training more family doctors and health teams.
CARP members do not buy the government argument that cutting corporate taxes will make Canada more competitive and lead to jobs and would rather the money be spent on education and home care.
The Sponsorship Scandal is seen to be the most damaging Canadian political scandal, followed closely by the prorogation of Parliament.
The plurality of members say the deficit was caused by the recession, but almost as many blame economic mismanagement by the current government.
When asked to personalize their blame, the trio of Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty and the Conservative Party come in for the lion’s share, compared to Michael Ignatieff, Paul Martin and the Liberal Party.
When asked the best way to reduce the deficit, the plurality say “fundamental restructuring of government”, followed by slowing growth through spending caps and attrition, cutting spending on defence and more stimulus to prompt growth.
Two thirds of members say there are specific issues which could switch their vote from the party they usually support, and leading these are a fundamental restructuring of health care, increasing OAS and GIS and expansion of both CPP and home care.
While three quarters of CARP members don’t think the country needs an election, the majority are convinced it will have one soon, and the issue that they wish it to be fought over, if it has to be fought, is ending up with a majority government, followed by a fundamental restructuring of health care delivery and ensuring no one lives in poverty (through a guaranteed minimum income). Corporate tax cuts are also an issue important enough to fight an election on.
The majority of CARP members vote their preferred party over the candidate. Fewer vote the candidate first.
The Liberal party has seen a slight uptick in member support in the most recent wave of polling, whereas the Green Party has lost ground.