Politics·Analysis

Vote Compass: Harper, Trudeau seen as winners in economy debate

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were the winners in Thursday night's leaders' debate, according to the latest results from Vote Compass, CBC's online voter engagement survey.

Response to Mulcair may be skewed, though, by breakdown of those who watched the debate

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, right, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, were seen as winners of the Globe and Mail leaders debate Thursday, according to Vote Compass respondents who said they watched the English-language debate. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair trailed the other two leaders. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was the winner in Thursday night's debate, followed closely by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, according to the latest results from Vote Compass, CBC's online voter engagement survey.

Vote Compass asked: "From what you saw, heard or read about the debate, who do you think won?"

In response, 37 per cent of respondents said Harper won, 35 per cent said Trudeau and 18 per cent said Mulcair.

The results are based on 6,523 respondents who participated in Vote Compass roughly between 11 p.m. on Sept. 17 to 11 a.m. on Sept. 18.

Mulcair's perceived poor performance in the debate runs counter to the positive reviews he's been getting from many media pundits.

But the Vote Compass findings may be influenced by the breakdown of the respondents who actually watched the debate, says James Aufricht, project manager for Vox Pop Labs, which developed Vote Compass.

Of the Vote Compass respondents who said they watched the debate, 38 per cent were Conservative supporters, 36 per cent said they were Liberal supporters while only 23 per cent were NDP supporters.

Very few NDP supporters watched the debate, says Aufricht. "So it's not as clear-cut as to say that Mulcair lost. I think it would be more appropriate to say that Trudeau and Harper performed equivalently."

Party lines

Harper, Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair went head to head (to head) in the second leaders' debate of this campaign, which was hosted by the Globe and Mail newspaper and centred on the economy.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who took part in the first debate in August, was not invited but took to Twitter to rebut the leaders' statements and lay out her own policy positions.

During the 90-minute event, which was broadcast online and on the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), the leaders sparred over their respective proposals for managing the economy.

Some of the most animated moments included arguments over the wisdom of balancing the budget versus running deficits over the next three years (which the Liberals are promising to boost the economy, they say), as well as over taxes on the wealthy and infrastructure spending.

Opinions on which leader won broke down somewhat predictably along party lines. For example, 91 per cent of Conservative-identifying respondents said Harper won, while 86 per cent of Liberal supporters said Trudeau did.

Seventy-six percent of declared NDP supporters said Mulcair won.


Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Canada exclusively by CBC News. The results are based on 6,523 respondents who participated in Vote Compass roughly between 11 p.m. on Sept. 17 to 11 a.m. on Sept. 18.

Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample. Vote Compass data have been weighted by geography, gender, age, educational attainment, occupation, religion, religiosity and civic engagement to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to census data and other population estimates.

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