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Canada’s farms still largely Tory blue: poll

A new poll by Ipsos Forward Research before the Oct. 14 election puts Canadian farmers’ support for the federal Conservatives at 59 per cent overall, well ahead of the pack but still down six points from 2006.

The poll, conducted online from Aug. 22 to Sept. 6 with 856 members of “Producers’ Perspectives: The Ipsos Canadian ArgiForum” and released Wednesday, finds that the Conservative Party would get the support of 59 per cent of decided farm voters across Canada, well ahead of the Liberals at 17 per cent, if the election were held “tomorrow.”

The NDP, Green Party and Bloc Quebecois follow with 10, seven and three per cent of the nationwide vote respectively. Beyond decided voters, another six per cent of farmers would not vote if an election were held the day after they were surveyed.

Not surprisingly, when broken down by province, the Conservatives’ farmer support is strongest in Alberta (80 per cent), Manitoba (68) and Saskatchewan (64), followed by Ontario (54), B.C. (48), the Atlantic provinces (43) and Quebec (26).

In the two most voter-rich provinces, Quebec’s remaining non-Conservative farmer vote would split between the Liberals (23), NDP (22), Bloc (20) and Greens (eight), while Ontario’s non-Conservative farmer vote would go to the Liberals (26 per cent), Greens (nine) and NDP (seven).

In B.C., the leader in the non-Conservative farmer vote is the NDP (26), ahead of the Liberals and Greens at 12 per cent each. On the other end of the country, the Liberals would get most of Atlantic Canada’s non-Conservative farmer vote (39 per cent), ahead of the NDP and Greens at six and four per cent of the decided vote respectively.

Support shifts

To gauge the shift in farmers’ voting preferences, Ipsos asked its surveyed farmers in this poll to recall how they voted in 2006. Compared to their responses for this election, Conservative support among farmers has dropped six percentage points nationwide, from 65 per cent in 2006. The Liberals gained a point and the NDP and Greens two points each. The Bloc lost a percentage point nationwide, suggesting a “substantial” nine-point drop in farmer support within Quebec alone.

However, when asked in this poll about which party they felt would best meet the needs of the ag community overall, farmers gave the Conservatives just 41 per cent, compared to the NDP (10), Liberals (seven), Greens (three) and BQ (two, or 13 per cent in Quebec).

Thirty-seven per cent of farmers are uncertain who would be most helpful in handling the agriculture portfolio on a national basis, Ipsos said in its release Wednesday, “suggesting that there is room for one of the federal parties to establish a stronger position among this electorate.”

Specifically, Ipsos said, producers in Ontario (48 per cent) and the Atlantic provinces (47) were the most uncertain about which party would best meet the ag industry’s needs, followed by B.C. (36) and Saskatchewan (35).

Farmers in the West typically turned to the Conservatives when asked about the party and leader that would be most helpful in meeting the needs of industry, with Alberta at 61 per cent followed by Saskatchewan (50), Manitoba (42) and B.C. (34) in holding that view.

Ipsos said its poll results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire Canadian population of farmers been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population, the pollster said.

The final data were weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and farm type compositions reflect the actual Canadian farm population with $10,000 or more in gross annual farm sales, as per the 2006 census, the company said in its release.

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