Canadians Big on Bernie, but think regardless of who Democrats nominate, Trump is likely to win

Canadians Big on Bernie, but think regardless of who Democrats nominate, Trump is likely to win

Ahead of Super Tuesday, most say Sanders would be best for U.S.- Canada relationship

February 21, 2020 – Less than two weeks ahead of Super Tuesday, the Democratic Primary race is growing tighter as people in the United States, and indeed around the world, wait to see who will emerge as the candidate to take on President Donald Trump in the coming election.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that if Canadians had their pick, they would lean toward Bernie Sanders as the candidate they prefer to lead the Democrats in November, both as the best chance to beat Trump, and the best option for the improvement of Canada-U.S. relations.

By a two-to-one margin, Canadians say that Sanders would be the best candidate to improve relations between the two countries, with former Vice President Joe Biden coming in second.

Ultimately, however, Canadians appear to have little expectation of a change in White House occupancy. While President Trump remains unpopular in Canada – 70 per cent hold a negative view of his administration – three-in-five expect that he will win the forthcoming election in November, regardless of who the Democrats nominate.

Canadian political preferences drive stark differences in opinion of Trump: only two per cent of past Liberal voters and a mere 1 per cent of past New Democrats view Trump favourably, compared to fully 44 per cent of past Conservatives. Indeed, more past CPC voters are positive about Trump than negative (44% to 34%).

More Key Findings:

  • One-quarter (24%) say that Bernie Sanders is the best bet to defeat Trump in the November election, slightly ahead of Joe Biden (19%). One-in-ten (12%) say none of the candidates give the Democratic Party a good chance
  • Sanders also enjoys the highest favourability among Canadians. Half (48%) say they have a favourable view of the Vermont Senator, a considerable advantage over Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who each hold the favour of one-in-three (35%).
  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has garnered considerable momentum in recent weeks with a strong showing in New Hampshire Primary, is relatively unknown to Canadians. Just 31 per cent have an opinion of her.

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.


Part One: Trump

  • Majority predict a two-term Trump

    • Americans less sure

  • Trump ending term with same pessimism he started with

Part Two: U.S. Democratic presidential race

  • Canadians like Sanders, most averse to Biden, Bloomberg

    • Not all candidates well known

    • CPC voters view all unfavourably, LPC and NDP like Sanders/Warren

  • Who would be best for Canada?

  • Division over who can beat Trump


Part One: Trump

Majority predict a two-term Trump

The sense among most Canadians is that Donald Trump has the political advantage heading into the November election. Asked whether they believe he will win the election, one-in-five (20%) say almost certainly, and another two-in-five (40%) say probably. Overall, that 60 per cent of respondents represents twice as many Canadians as those who say that he will likely not win (30%):

Trump ending term with same pessimism he started with

If, indeed, Donald Trump is successful in winning a second term, his victory would likely be greeted with dismay on this side of the border. Canadians continue a three-year trend of overwhelming negativity as to the administration’s performance. Seven-in-ten (70%) say they have a negative view of Trump and his team, while 17 per cent view their work positively.

Just 2 per cent of past Liberals and 1 per cent of past New Democrats view Trump and his group positively, compared to 44 per cent of Conservatives. Conversely, more past Conservative voters are positive about Trump than negative (44% to 34%):

Part Two: U.S. Democratic presidential race

Canadians like Sanders, most averse to Biden, Bloomberg

After the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg each have more than 20 delegates pledged to their campaign. In American politics a delegate is a representative who commits to vote on behalf of a group at the party convention, which will be held in July.

That said, fully 29 per cent of the 4,750 total delegates will be on the line on Super Tuesday, March 3, so much of the road still lies ahead.

Canadians are following the contest quite closely, with nearly four-in-five saying they have been keeping an eye on the headlines and big stories emerging (see detailed tables). That said, they have differing opinions about which candidates they like best.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who approaches majority favourability, falling just shy at 48 per cent. Just over one-in-three (35%) hold a favourable view of Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

Sanders does, however, have majority approval among men under 55 years of age, and women under 35. No other candidate receives majority approval from any age and gender combination.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, once the frontrunner for the nomination, has faltered over the past couple weeks, falling into second in national polls in the United States. Still, three-in-ten Canadians have a favourable view of him, well ahead of both Mike Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar, who generate little enthusiasm from Canadians at this point:

Biden, however, is also the most unfavourably viewed candidate. Two-in-five (41%) have a negative impression of him, five-points ahead of Mike Bloomberg. Both candidates are particularly unpopular with men. Frontrunner Bernie Sanders’ unfavourability sits at 30 per cent and rises with age (see detailed tables).

Not all candidates well known

One of the reasons that Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has such low ratings in terms of both favourability and unfavourability is that few Canadians evidently have an opinion of her at all. Just 31 per cent say they think of her favourably or unfavourably, by far the lowest level of the six main candidates. Below are the candidates, sorted by level of interest they generate with the Canadian public:

Past CPC voters view all unfavourably, Past Liberal and NDP voters like Sanders/Warren

While past Conservative voters in this country have been pessimistic about the Trump administration over the course of the past three years, that does not mean they hold favourable views of any potential contenders to unseat him. No Democratic candidate scores higher than 23 per cent (Buttigieg) among those who cast votes for the Conservatives in the last Canadian federal election. Past Liberals and New Democrats appear quite fond of both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren:

Who would be best for Canada?

Ultimately, the decisions made by Canada’s southern neighbours may have an impact on events in this country. The two countries share the world’s longest undefended border, and hundreds of billions of dollars in trade. When asked who they believe would be best for the relationship between the two countries, more Canadians voice preference for Bernie Sanders (28%). That said, the same number (28%), also say they really aren’t sure who would be best to deal with Canada:

Canadian provinces rely on the United States for considerable economic activity. As such, each province has their own unique views on who would be best to lead the U.S. Regionally, B.C., Ontario and Quebec residents are most optimistic about what Sanders would bring to U.S.-Canada relations, while Biden is a consistent second place in most of the country. Albertans are most likely to say they can’t pick a candidate, which suggests they are not enamoured with the idea of any of the leaders sitting down at the table with the Prime Minister. Albertans have historically been most favourable to the current U.S. administration:

Division over who can beat Trump

There is even less clarity among Canadians as to who they believe would have the best chance of winning in the forthcoming election. Sanders again leads, but by a small margin over Joe Biden. Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg are also chosen by at least one-in-ten Canadians.

Comparing cross border perspectives, Americans agree with Canadians that Sanders would have the best shot. Americans have become more favourable about Mike Bloomberg’s chances in recent weeks, as his campaign has infused hundreds of millions of dollars in digital and TV advertising into the race.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

Click here to read the full questionnaire used in this report.


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Image Credit – Photo 56159021 | Bernie Sanders © Jhansen2 |