Zoomer Primary Reveals Impact Older Voters Had on Election Night

zoomer primary

As the new minority Liberal government under Justin Trudeau takes shape and struggles to figure out how to rule effectively in this highly divided Parliament, we take a last look at the results of the Zoomer Primary and the impact older voters had on Election 2019.

While we’ll have to wait a while until Elections Canada parses the numbers and releases the voting breakdown by age, we can make assumptions on the impact of the older vote from the results of our Zoomer Primary poll. This project, which ran throughout the campaign and attracted well over 16,000 respondents, provides valuable insight into the mindset of older Canadians as they made their way to cast their ballots.

Here, then, are the final Zoomer Primary results and five conclusions we can draw from these numbers.

zoomer primary


1. Once again, older voters back the Liberals

In 2015, Justin Trudeau won the support of older voters by offering an appealing assortment of policies (increasing GIS, restoring OAS back to 65, expanding CPP) that appealed to this demographic. While Trudeau’s package of promises to seniors for 2019 paled in comparison, the fact that they finished in first place in the latest Zoomer Primary poll suggests that many older voters chose to stick with him once again. In an election that saw seniors issues pushed aside by the two front-running parties, our polls showed that older voters backed the Liberals and their proven track record of supporting seniors.

2. Conservatives pay for ignoring older demo

Even though the Conservatives won the popular vote and increased their seat total by 23, party insiders were hoping for a better showing. And if the disappointing numbers are interpreted as a reflection of Andrew Scheer’s capability as leader, then his future may be in doubt. Scheer’s poor popularity ratings were reflected through much of the Zoomer Primary polling. While his numbers gained steadily throughout the campaign (and ended up almost matching his actual popular vote), he failed to offer enough to dethrone the Liberals. With the Liberals taking the senior vote for granted, the Conservatives had a golden opportunity to attract supporters worried about issues like health care, RRIF reform and cost of living. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, their platform of tax cuts for low-income Canadians and an increase in the age benefit wasn’t at all that enticing and didn’t resonate at the ballot box. When the Tories take stock of what went wrong in 2019, they may regret their failure to attract older voters, a major voting bloc that once formed a key part of their power base.

3. Experienced and savvy voters shun NDP

Jagmeet Singh tried to portray the NDP’s 24-seat election-night disaster as a victory, emphasizing the new-found influence his party will have in the Liberal minority government. However, that’s thin gruel for supporters of a party that shed 18 seats and eventually finished behind the Bloc Quebecois. While national polls had the NDP as high as 20 per cent, the Zoomer Primary had him closer to 10 per cent among older voters. Yes, the NDP had a robust seniors platform, but older voters were savvy enough to realize that, no matter how much you respect the leader and his platforms, you don’t waste your vote on a party that has no chance of winning the election.

4. We nailed the Greens and the People’s Party popular vote!

Going into the vote, Green Party leader Elizabeth May was hoping that her record-high support levels would translate into a higher percentage of the vote and more seats. Despite the fact the environment played a huge focus throughout the campaign, the fact that the Greens only picked up one seat (pushing their total to three) was a major disappointment for May. While the Greens scored high at the beginning of the Zoomer Primary polls, they shed this support throughout the campaign. Our last poll had the Greens at 6.8 per cent — which almost exactly matched their actual share of the vote — 6.5 per cent. Besides calling the Greens right, the Zoomer Primary nailed the People’s Party result: they scored 1.6 per cent in our polls, which matched their actual share of the popular vote.

5. Undecideds rule the night

Throughout much of the Zoomer Primary polling period, the Undecided vote hovered around 10 per cent. This huge number finally broke in our final polling weekend, with the majority of fence-sitters finding a home with the Liberals. This wave of support reflected national voting patterns — in order to keep Conservatives from winning, it seems many voters chose to hold their nose and vote Liberal. While this strategic voting hurt the NDP and Greens, it obviously proved sufficient to help Trudeau secure his minority government.