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It’s a long way from the Writs to the Ballot Box:
Pre-election Polls vs. Election Results 1962-2008
April 8, 2011

Of the thirteen federal elections held since 1962 inclusive, the party leading in the polls when the writs were dropped saw itself lose support during eleven of the campaigns. The only exceptions to the pattern were during the 1974 election – which featured Pierre Trudeau’s attack on Bob Stanfield's "wage and price controls" platform – and in 1988. In this latter case – the "free trade" election – Brian Mulroney's Conservatives did decline precipitously during the campaign, but rebounded toward the end and finished with the same support level at which they started. The greatest declines during the period were the 20% drops of John Turner in 1984 and Kim Campbell in 1993. During the 1997 election campaign, Jean Chretien's Liberals declined 6% in popular support which was average decline for frontrunners during the entire 1962-97 period.

Election Year

Last Pre-Campaign Poll Election Result % Change in Pre-election
Conservative Liberal NDP Reform BQ Conservative Liberal NDP Reform BQ
1962
38
45
9
n/a
n/a
37
37
14
n/a
n/a
-8%
1963
32
47
10
n/a
n/a
33
42
12
n/a
n/a
-5%
1965
29
45
15
n/a
n/a
33
41
18
n/a
n/a
-4%
1968
29
50
16
n/a
n/a
31
45
17
n/a
n/a
-5%
1972
32
42
15
n/a
n/a
35
39
18
n/a
n/a
-3%
1974
33
40
21
n/a
n/a
35
43
16
n/a
n/a
+3%
1979
41
41
15
n/a
n/a
36
40
18
n/a
n/a
-1%
1980
27
47
23
n/a
n/a
32
44
20
n/a
n/a
-3%
1984
39
48
11
n/a
n/a
50
28
19
n/a
n/a
-20%
1988
43
33
22
n/a
n/a
43
32
20
n/a
n/a
0%
1993
36
33
8
11
10
16
41
7
19
14
-20%
1997
20
44
11
15
8
19
38
11
19
11
-6%
2000
8
48
8
21
10
12
41
9
26
11
-7%
2004
31
39
17
n/a
12
30
37
16
n/a
13
-2%
2006
30
35
20
n/a
14
36
30
17
n/a
10
-5%
2008
38
28
19
n/a
6
38
26
18
n/a
10
0%
2011
39
25
19
n/a
10
40
19
31
n/a
6
-3%

Note:  Most of this information is drawn from the Toronto Star, September 1, 1984.   It has been augmented with the comparable Gallup poll published on October 3, 1988.  Since no pre-election Gallup poll was available in 1993, the analogous figure for that year is drawn from the ComQuest poll in the Globe and Mail, September 16, 1993.  The 1997 figures are taken from a CBC Environics poll reported in the Globe and Mail, April 29, 1977. The 2008 data to complete that table follows based upon an Environics poll for CBC released on Sept. 4, 2008.