The pandemic is not the only reason but it is virtually impossible to ignore COVID-19 in any 2020 year-end review.

In 2020, companies and organizations released 1150 polls. This represents a 7% increase. In the four years of tracking, 2020 is the highest year and the second highest year-over-year change. Consider that there were only a couple of provincial competitions. The 2019 results were mostly driven by the fall federal election.

2020 in the Polls

The Public Polls Project identified 1150 public opinion poll releases in Canada. There are seasonal patterns. July and August are usually quiet; the fall is the busiest.

A comparison of the number of monthly polls released by year from 2016 to 2020

Over the past several years, the share of polls conducted nationally had been increasing. In 2020, there was a levelling off and slight decline. National polls remain dominant and local polls have virtually disappeared.

The three provincial elections in the last half of the year may have contributed to more provincial polls. In addition, differences in how provinces responded to the pandemic may have encouraged more provincial polling.

The geographic basis for polls conducted between 2017 and 2020

The 2020 Issues

COVID-19 dominated polling in 2020. Very little polling did not at least touch the pandemic. One way to show this is to use our four segment categorization of each poll.

The type of polls conducted in 2019 and 2020

Public Policy –– Compared with 2019, the number of public policy polls almost doubled. In 2019, 38% of all releases were about policy compared with 64% last year.

Electoral and political competition — Horserace polling dropped precipitously. Only 18% of all releases in 2020 compared with 35% in 2019. We introduced a new measure in 2020 to capture whether there was a vote intention question asked. This allows us to capture the party vote for polls which are otherwise policy polls. Twenty-one per cent of polls asked about vote intention.

Perceptions of the world — Non-policy polls that report on other aspects of the human condition are usually an important category. There was a significant decline in 2020. This is a pandemic effect. COVID-19 made otherwise non-policy issues into policy issues. Inevitably, we erred on capturing this as policy.

Public Policy Polls in 2020

2020 was all about the pandemic. Half of all of the public policy polling involved health. Most of these were about the Coronavirus.

Polling Methodologies

Online is the most used survey mode. In 2020, 85% of polls were online. 2020 continues a multi-year trend of consolidation. The change has been at the expense of IVR and telephone polls.

The survey mode for polls conducted between 2017 and 2020

The Public Polls project was developed and is maintained by Richard Jenkins. Richard Jenkins founded Jenkins Research Inc. and Richard Jenkins holds the copyright and ownership of the data and all analysis.

The database of public polls includes all public opinion releases since April 1, 2016. Each release is an independent public announcement of a question or more from a public opinion poll.