Opinion Polls Regarding Public Preference Research Paper

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Public Opinion Polls Regarding Public Preference

Nazo Maghakian


Review and Analysis of Public Opinion Polls Regarding Public Preference

What is Public Opinion Poll?

Public Polling Changing History

Charter of Values

Support for the Charter

Favor of the Charter

Shifting of the Polls

Public Fears

Undecided Polls

Minorities and the Rest of Canada

Gender equality

Stereotyping and Tension

Policy responsiveness is a question that tends to rise during any political parties campaign. Policy responsiveness is described as the "ability to readily react to suggestions, influences, appeals or efforts" (Free Dictionary, 2014) Does a political party have the capacity to respond to the preferences of its citizens? The primary purpose of a democratic system is this exact ability to respond to the citizens. However, as we see time and time again, this is easier said than done. In the following few paragraphs, the focus will be to review and analyze public opinion polls and see if the political party react to the public preferences with these results. I have decided to focus on public opinion polls directly relating to the proposed charter of values of Pauline Marois and how they are affecting the polls for the upcoming Quebec election. Does the public preference make an impact on her proposed bill or do public opinion polls fall on deaf ears?

What is Public Opinion Poll?

First of all, it is important to understand what polls are and their significance for Quebec. An opinion poll, sometimes merely denoted to as a poll, is basically a survey of public opinion that usually comes from a certain sample. Opinion polls that are being used in Quebec are frequently intended to represent the sentiments of a population by leading a series of questions and then inferring generalizations in ratio or within confidence intervals. Opinion polls for so many years were upheld through communications or in person-to-person interaction. Methods and procedures vary, though they are extensively acknowledged in most parts. Poll, verbal, and administered types can be conducted professionally, differentiated with other kinds of surveys, systematics, and complex matrices beyond preceding orthodox events.

Public Polling Changing History

History has displayed that views on the utilization and role of public opinion in establishing policy can sometimes be as varied as the opinions themselves. For instance, Winston Churchill was a person that took the view that there was "no such thing as public opinion. There is only what he called the published opinion" (Hobley, 2013). Whereas Abraham Lincoln's position on this was just: "Public opinion in this nation is everything."

Research shows that foreign policy creates an interesting beginning point, with historical samples displaying where public opinion has and hasn't influenced government polices. However, on 15 February 2003, the UK's main ever public protest in disagreement to the impending attack of Iraq was held. Also, the scale of anti-war sentiment rushed internationally as demonstrations turned out to be a worldwide marvel. Despite the fact that these mass public exhibitions did not change Britain's dogma, they have been quoted as an important issue in persuading the choice of the Canadian government to keep their troops out of the Iraq conflict (Hobley, 2013).

Figure 1 Sample of public opinion making a difference in policy making in Canada.

History shows that even in places like Quebec, public opinion could likewise assist in setting the pace of change. Also, in order to overcome frustrations around the long schedule necessary to instrument improvement, why not permit policy to be planned to come in line with public opinion? There lies the drive and motivation to hurry the speed at which the appropriately labelled dead hand of the state arranges the policy.

It has even been assumed that public opinion does indeed have the ability to alter the course of history. However, in the middle of the great United States depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt's unwillingness to link to the anti-German war effort was lastly made certain by the bombing of Pearl Harbour (Hobley, 2013). It is quite obvious that this event really did change everything in the minds and hearts of the American public, providing the president the public support he wanted. With that said, did it do the same in Canada when it came down to the Charter of Values?

Charter of Values

Firstly, it is important to breakdown what the charter of values entails. The charter of values that was proposed in September 2013, is a proposed bill that would "restrict public sector employees from wearing symbols such as hijabs, niqabs, kippas, turbans and other items" (Canada.com, 2014). This controversial bill has caused many protests and debates in Quebec since its introduction. The question however is whether public opinion polls are favouring towards this charter or are they against it.

Support for the Charter

In September 2013 when the first public opinion polls were taken, we see a majority support of the proposed charter. "Leger found that 58 per cent of Quebecers approved of the charter, with 61% of francophone Quebecers, the core of PQ voters, supporting the policy." (CBC, 2013). The Parti Quebecois believed that this was a good issue for them to keep their unique identities. Also, with a majority of their supporters for the proposed bill it became a win-win situation for them.

Figure 2 Election Polls showing probability of winning. (Election Polls, 2013)

Many experts believed that the charter was not the be-all end all ideology of the Parti Quebecois, but it was a way for the PQ to firstly potentially "squeeze the Coalition Avenir Quebec [CAQ], where it becomes basically a two-sided race between the Liberals and the Parti Quebecois" (CBC, 2013) and also to potentially form a majority government based on the votes of francophone citizens from outside of the greater Montreal area. However, "If you want to form a majority government, that's very tough if you can't count on a few good seats on the island of Montreal" (Bourque, 2013).

Favor of the Charter

In October 2013, the support kept steady for the charter on the francophone side of the spectrum, but we see finally see some public opinion come in from other linguistic groups. The division is immense. "57% said they favour the charter -- and respondents from other linguistic groups, only 16% of whom said they were strongly in favour of the charter."(National Post, 2013) The immense division in public opinion must surely have an impact on the polls for the Parti Quebecois.

Figure 3 full breakdown of the polls. (Quebec's values charter debate fuels stereotyping, tension: poll, 2014)

However, the support for not only the charter, but the whole political group as a whole has seen a rise. "Democratic governance assumes that the preferences of citizens are reflected in policy outputs. This objective has, however, proved extraordinarily difficult to attain in practice." (Manza and Cook, 2002) Did the Parti Quebecois charter policy assume that the preference of the majority would support the bill? Or was the charter just a shot in the dark for the Parti Quebecois to gauge their electoral position. Either way, their proposed bill has given them that boost to potentially got that majority government which they have been seeking.

Shifting of the Polls

In December 2013, we see the shift of the polls for the upcoming election. In September 2013, when the general public polls were done, the Liberal party of Quebec had a commanding lead over the Parti Quebecois. However, with the release of the new public polls we see a major shift and the effect that the charter of values had on the polls. From December 2-9, two polls were taken from the Leger and CROP, which are the leading public opinion poll takers in Quebec. The numbers have shifted from a sizable lead of the Liberals to a dead-heat as both the Parti Quebecois and Liberal party both come in at 35% support. This shift in polls seems to be directly linked to the impact of the charter on the public opinion of the population. The strength of the francophone population in Quebec is undeniable. The ability for a certain public policy to impact the polls in such a radical way shows that strength.

In January 2014, the polls kept their major shift towards a Parti Quebecois majority. With the new poll conducted on January 20th 2014, the PQ government had taken a 36% piece of the public vote compared to a 33% Liberal vote. Those numbers for the first time would give the PQ a slim enough margin to get that majority government which they have been longing. "The Leger Marketing survey for QMI Agency indicates the Parti Quebecois' secularism charter, while repulsive to many ethnic and religious citizens, hasn't hurt the PQ among most French voters."(Toronto Sun, 2014) It looks as though the Parti Quebecois is sticking their minority government on the line with the proposed bill.

Furthermore, the polls reflecting the election are not the only public opinion polls that have been taken. In January, other…[continue]

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