BUSINESS

Nanos Number: Canadians Losing Confidence In The Economy

04/18/2013 10:50 EDT | Updated 06/19/2013 05:12 EDT
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New polls by Nanos Research reveal that while Americans are feeling better about the economy, Canadians are becoming more and more pessimistic about their own.

Nanos asked Americans and Canadians about two economic indicators, real estate and where people believe the economy is headed and the results are surprising.

In the United States, 37.5 per cent of Americans see the value of real estate increasing in their neighbourhood, 43.4 per cent said the value is unchanged and 14.4 per cent thought the value of homes in their neighbourhoods were decreasing.

In Canada, only 28.9 per cent saw the value of real estate increasing, 42.6 per cent said it was unchanged and 17.2 per cent thought the values of the homes in their neighbourhoods were decreasing.

The findings are based on representative random online surveys of 1,000 adult Canadians conducted March 27-28 and a Nanos America Random Nanos America Random Telephone Survey of 1,007 Americans conducted March 27-April 7, 2013. A margin of error does not apply and the data was weighted using the latest Census information to be a true representation of opinion at the time of the field .

The second key indicator when it comes to evaluating confidence in the economy has to do with where Canadians and Americans think the economy is going.

Nanos asked Americans and Canadians whether the economy will get stronger over the next year and the results showed that Americans are much more optimistic about their country's economic future than Canadians.

Thirty-one per cent of Americans thought the economy would get stronger over the next year, 31.9 per cent thought it would get weaker and 30.9 per cent expect no change.

Only 17.9 per cent of Canadians think the economy will get stronger, 30.5 per cent said it will get weaker and 39.4 per cent expect no change over the next year.

For Canada there is a downward trend when it comes to confidence in the economy.

A Nanos tracking poll in March showed that 21.9 per cent of Canadians thought the economy would get stronger, 26.8 per cent thought it would get weaker over the next year. Between January and February there was a five-point jump in the number of Canadians who think the economy is going to get weaker over the next year.

The findings are based on representative random online surveys of adult Canadians conducted Jan. 18-19 and Feb. 27-28, 2013. A margin of error does not apply and the data was weighted using the latest Census information to be a true representation of opinion at the time of the fieldwork.

Troubling trend

Nanos said this trend could be very problematic for the Conservative government, because its success has been built on fiscal stewardship, economic prosperity and good management.

"Beyond the economy there aren't a lot of strong pillars for them [the Conservatives] to fight the next election on," he said.

"When voters are grumpy about the economy, they tend to punish the governments in power. So the Conservatives have to see it unravelling," Nanos said.

When you compare the Canadian and American numbers, Nanos pointed out that part of the messaging from the government has been that the Canadian economy has been doing better than in other countries, including and especially the United States.

"That narrative could potentially unravel in terms of the Conservatives being able to support a storyline saying that Canada is doing better than the United States," Nanos said.

Shifts in the political landscape

A recent Nanos Research poll showed a shift in the political landscape, putting support for the Liberals ahead of the Conservatives for the first time since 2009.

It put the Liberals in first place at 35.4 per cent. The Conservatives are 4.1 percentage points back, at 31.3 per cent, and the NDP are at 23.6 per cent. Nanos Research recruited 1,002 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, by phone and then administered an online survey. It was conducted April 4 to 8, 2013. The numbers are considered accurate to within 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Nanos said whenever there is economic uncertainty, voters also start to look at potential alternatives when it comes to their ballot box choices, but warns the Liberals not to be too cocky.

While we don't know whether these new numbers indicate a trend or are just a one-off related to the election of Justin Trudeau, what Nanos is watching for whether the Liberals can make the most of these numbers and start a new trend.

"We don't know that, but what we do know is that when the polling numbers on the economic front are uncertain, people start to look at alternatives. Which means that, whether you're Thomas Mulcair or Justin Trudeau, it's an opportunity," Nanos said.

But Nanos warned both leaders, if they want to take advantage of these numbers they will have to come up with a clear vision when it comes to economic prosperity and the future, and be clear about how that vision is different from that of the Conservatives.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

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