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Surprise: Canada not as politically polarized as we might have thought

Surprise: Canada not as politically polarized as we might have thought

Environics Research has issued a survey report that suggests Canadians are significantly less politically polarized than Americans. The survey found the US to be polarized in the following three senses:

  • A significant proportion of the population place themselves at either end of the political spectrum, rather than in the centre (and this pattern is becoming more accentuated over time).
  • Each of the two main parties attracts most of its support from either end of the political spectrum, rather than from the centre.
  • There are significant gaps in trust in the political system between those who identify as liberals and those who identify as conservatives.

Contrast that to Canada where Canadians on the political left and right have generally become less divided on questions about democracy (left and right have grown less polarized).

Each of the three main Canadian federal political parties draws most of its support from people who place themselves in the middle of the political spectrum.

Overall levels of trust in democratic institutions in Canada are either stable or increasing over time.  However, Pride in being Canadian has declined over the past four years; some of this decline may be related to recent revelations about the mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples.

The study found that the gap between Canadians and Americans was widest when it came to the question of how satisfied they are with democracy. The number of Canadian satisfied outnumbered the dissatisfied by almost 50 percent. In the US, satisfied Americans held only a six-point lead over those who were dissatisfied.

There was a wide gap between Canada and the US on the question of the level of satisfaction with democracy

When it came to describing their own political ideology. Two thirds of Canadians identified themselves as occupying the centre politically, whereas only 37 percent of Americans saw themselves as centrist.

The Grey bars represents the percentage who see themselves as centrist politically. 30 percent more Canadians see themselves as occupying the centre

Perhaps something of a surprise, when Canadian were asked about their level of trust in Prime Minister Trudeau, respondents who identified as being on the right side of the political spectrum trusted the PM over those on the left by a 39 to 33 percent margin.

The Americas Barometer 2021 survey in Canada was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with LAPOP at Vanderbilt University. The Canadian survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 2,201 Canadians (aged 18 and over) between July 2 and July 7, 2021. The 2021 survey in the U.S. was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,500 Americans (aged 18 and over) between July 19 and July 25, 2021.

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