Understanding the 2015 Canadian Election

Colloquium | February 26 | 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Peter Loewen, University of Toronto

 Canadian Studies Program (CAN)), Institute of Governmental Studies, Institute of International Studies

The 2015 Canadian federal election was a dynamic affair. Each of the three major parties held the lead in polls at some point in the campaign. However, by the end of the campaign the Tories finished where they started, the Liberals pulled far ahead, and the NDP saw all their previous gains fall away. Why did this happen? Using data from the Local Parliament Project, I show that there were two related forces underwriting the Liberal victory. First, increasingly positive evaluations of the leadership of Justin Trudeau. Second, increased expectations that the Liberals could defeat the governing Conservatives. By contrast, the victory was not easily attributable to issue positions or economic performance. I conclude the talk by considering the implications of these findings for the next federal election, to be held in October 2019.


Peter Loewen is a Professor of Political Science, Global Affairs, and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. He works on voting behaviour, elite behaviour, and the relationship between technology and good governance. His work is published in leading journals, including the American Political Science Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Journal of Political Science, Political Communication, and Transactions of the Royal Society B. He is a co-investigator of the Canadian Election Study and in 2015 was Co-Principal Investigator of the Local Parliament Project, the largest ever election study in Canada.

 elliott.smith@berkeley.edu, 510-642-0531