Is the Red Wall in Atlantic Canada Crumbling?
A deep dive into federal political opinions in Atlantic Canada
During the evening of October 19, 2015, I was in the CPAC studio providing commentary as the results of the federal election started to roll in. As polls closed in Atlantic Canada, it looked like the Liberals were going to have a good night, in part because they swept all 32 seats in the region winning close to 60% of the vote.
Four years later, Liberal dominance in the region was pierced, but largely continued, as the party won all but 5 seats, winning over 40% of the vote. And then, in 2021, the Liberals had another good night in Atlantic Canada. Their vote share rose despite losing four seats ending up with 24 of the 32 seats in the region.
It was safe to say that Atlantic Canada was a Liberal stronghold, even when the Liberal vote dropped in other parts of the country. And perhaps more important, the Liberals could still win seats in rural and small town communities even when their vote in other rural parts of the country declined pretty sharply between 2015 and 2021.
Polling in Atlantic Canada is challenging. The smaller population means the region’s sample in a typical national survey barely edges above 100 or 150, far too small to make confident conclusions about what’s happening there. So when I started to hear and see evidence that maybe Liberal dominance in the region was under threat, I started to increase the sample size in our national surveys from our typical 100 to 150 to closer to 300. This gave me a better sense of what’s happening in the region and more confidence in the insights I could make from the data.
So in this post, I try to answer a question more and more people have been asking me: What is happening in Atlantic Canada?
To do this, I combined survey data from five surveys my company Abacus Data conducted from June to September 2023. In total, I have a combined sample size of 1,587 respondents in Atlantic Canada - more than enough to dig deep and see what was happening.
In our most recent national survey - conducted from August 29 to September 4 - I also oversampled the region to over 500 respondents and asked some questions specifically about the carbon tax as it was clear that the carbon tax may be partly to blame for the Liberal decline in the region.
So here is what happening in Atlantic Canada:
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