Canadians Prefer Obama Over Own Leaders: Poll

CTV, June 29, 2008

A new poll suggests Canadians would prefer to vote for Barack Obama rather than cast a ballot for their own political leaders, while 45 per cent of Americans envy Canada’s health care system.

The bi-national survey, conducted by the Strategic Counsel for CTV and The Globe and Mail, showed that here in Canada, Obama was more admired than Prime Minister Stephen Harper—or any other national leader.

“Some would read (the results) as an indictment of our political leaders,” the Strategic Counsel’s Peter Donolo told CTV.ca. “Others would say it’s an acknowledgement of the phenomenal nature of Obama’s appeal. He really is a prototype of his own; he’s broken the mold.”

Stephane Dion trailed far behind the other leaders, just ahead of Republican presidential nominee John McCain:

* Barack Obama: 26 per cent

* Stephen Harper: 21 per cent

* Hillary Clinton: 16 per cent

* Jack Layton: 9 per cent

* Gilles Duceppe: 6 per cent

* Stephane Dion: 5 per cent

* John McCain: 3 per cent

Obama appealed to people across Canada’s political spectrum, with 24 per cent of conservative-minded voters choosing him and 28 per cent of liberal thinkers.

“I think there’s a sense in Canada that we’re in a rut with our political situation, and I think there’s a fatigue with the nature of politics in Ottawa as we watch it through question period—the very cranky, minority-government style politics. There’s a little more envy than usual south of the border,” said Donolo.

This recent poll by The Strategic Counsel surveyed 1,000 Canadians and 1,000 people in the United States.

When it came to health care, 45 per cent of Americans felt Canada had a superior system, while 42 per cent thought the United States should stick with its own.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Canadians, 91 per cent, felt that Canada’s health care system was better than the United States.

Canada tilts to the left

When Canadian respondents were asked how to define their political views, regardless of how they actually vote, slightly more than half described themselves as liberal:

* Very liberal: 12 per cent

* Liberal: 39 per cent

* Conservative: 38 per cent

* Very conservative: 3 per cent

Respondents in the United States were slanted in the other direction, and also had more people who considered themselves on the extreme right of the political spectrum:

* Very conservative: 10 per cent

* Conservative: 47 per cent

* Liberal: 30 per cent

* Very liberal: 7 per cent

“In general, I think on a lot of issues the United States are a more polarized society,” said Donolo. “When you look at the number of how many hardcore conservatives there are in the U.S., it’s a pretty significant number.”

Gay marriage

The same poll also suggested Canadians are far more liberal than Americans, with 70 per cent supporting gay marriage.

When it came to gay marriage, 68 per cent of Canadians backed supported it, while 28 per cent were against it. In 2005, when the government was considering whether to repeal the gay marriage bill, 55 per cent were in favour of gay marriage.

“I think this points to the reality being a lot less threatening to people than the concept. As people have gotten used to the issue, there’s been less anxiety over it,” said Donolo.

Aside from being more politically right-of-centre, Americans also appear to be more religious.

Respondents in the United States went to religious services more frequently than Canadians:

* Every week or almost every week: Canada 23 per cent, U.S. 46 per cent

* Once a month: Canada 8 per cent, U.S. 11 per cent

* A couple of times a year: Canada 27 per cent, U.S. 16 per cent

* Never or hardly ever: Canada 42 per cent, U.S. 27 per cent

Technical notes

The poll was conducted between June 12-22 by The Strategic Counsel for CTV and The Globe and Mail.

The sample size was 1,000 people in each country. A proportionate random national sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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