Trudeau’s Troubles: Loss of traditional support among women boosts O’Toole; CPC lead Liberals in vote intent

Trudeau’s Troubles: Loss of traditional support among women boosts O’Toole; CPC lead Liberals in vote intent

Trudeau now the most unfavourably viewed major party leader in the country

August 30, 2021 – Are Justin Trudeau’s days of enjoying unmatched political rock god status well and truly over?

The party leader whose personal appeal and political momentum spurred a third-place-to-majority victory for the Liberals in 2015 now finds himself in a place far from the halcyon days of “sunny ways” that defined his brand and leadership six years ago.

Heading into the third week of Canada’s 44th election campaign, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Trudeau losing support among women – long his staunchest supporters – as well as in battleground regions he needs to win if his party is to form government after Sept. 20.

The Liberal leader is now the most intensely disliked among his major party challengers, with fully two-in-five (41%) saying they view him “very unfavourably”.

Trudeau’s pain is Erin O’Toole’s gain. The Conservative Party leader’s personal momentum – that is, the number of people whose opinion of him has improved over worsened – has quadrupled since the beginning of the campaign (7% to 28%). The demographic with which he is gaining ground is key: Generation X and Baby Boomer women are looking at O’Toole more favourably, representing gains among consistent voting segments of the electorate the CPC has struggled to reach in the past.

Thus, for the first time since the writs were dropped Aug. 15, ARI polling shows a lead – albeit a very narrow one – for the Conservative Party of Canada over the Liberals (33% vs. 31% respectively).

More Key Findings:

  • The Liberal Party has dropped from competitive in a three-way race in British Columbia, to trailing the CPC by nine points and the NDP by 10.
  • In Ontario, a comfortable lead of 10 points two weeks ago over the CPC has diminished to two points. The same trend is unfolding in Quebec, but with the Bloc Québécois closing the gap instead. The Liberal lead in that province is now just three.
  • Despite Canadians’ engagement with the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, the top issues for this campaign continue to be climate change, health care, and COVID-19 response.


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: Top issues

Part Two: Leader momentum

  • Trudeau has lost ground with every age and gender demographic

  • Positive momentum for O’Toole, Singh in every region

Part Three: Leader favourability

  • O’Toole gains favourability among all age and gender demographics

  • Views of O’Toole improve in key battlegrounds

Part Four: Vote intent

  • Conservatives now lead

  • Regional picture

  • Demographic picture


Part One: Top issues

News coverage of the 44th election campaign began and has been quickly subsumed not by debates over health care, the deficit, and vaccinations, but by the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.

New: Almost no Canadians call Afghanistan evacuation successful; hesitant to call it a failure

While leaders and pundits debate that issue, the national issues voters care most about and say they will be voting on remain unchanged over the last weeks. The environment and climate change are at the top, alongside health care. Notably, COVID-19 response rounds out the top three:

Part Two: Leader momentum

After spending nearly his first full year as Conservative Party leader as a relatively unpopular figure, Erin O’Toole is hitting his stride during the first half of this campaign. As Canadians see more of him, the percentage saying their view of him has ‘improved’ recently has quadrupled from seven to 28 per cent.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh fares well on this measure too, garnering an improving view from one-quarter in these most recent data. For Liberal leader Justin Trudeau the campaign has thus far been a struggle. Just five per cent of Canadians say their view of him has improved in recent weeks:

Trudeau has lost ground with every age and gender demographic

The trend is stark when comparing where leaders stand now and where they stood on Aug. 5, pre-campaign. Trudeau has lost ground with nearly every age and gender group, while Singh and O’Toole are generating higher levels of enthusiasm.

Positive momentum for O’Toole, Singh in every region

In every region of the country, fewer Canadians voice an improved view of Justin Trudeau, while his opponents are gaining a firmer foothold with which to build out their messaging:


Part Three: Leader favourability

Singh continues to be the most favourably viewed major party leader in the country. He is the only federal party leader for whom half of the public voice positive appraisal. On this measure, O’Toole and Trudeau are trending in opposite directions. Trudeau is viewed favourably by 34 per cent, down four points from last week, while O’Toole garners favour from 38 per cent – up six points in that same period.

Another challenge for Trudeau – and one that was on display in anti-Trudeau protests criticized by both O’Toole and Singh over the weekend – is the level of dislike he generates among a portion of the public. Two-in-five (41%) say they have a very unfavourable view of Trudeau, the highest of all federal leaders. Almost two-thirds view him unfavourably overall:

O’Toole gains favourability among all age and gender demographics

Since the pre-writ period, on Aug. 12, the change in favourability among each leader has been significant. While Trudeau is down six points, including a dip among all age and gender groups aside from 18- to 34-year-old women, O’Toole and Singh have made considerable gains. For O’Toole, this includes a double-digit increase among both men and women over the age of 34:

*Respondents were asked about leader momentum Aug. 5, and asked about leader favourability Aug. 12

Views of O’Toole improve in key battlegrounds

Regionally, the shift in vote intention is at least partially attributable to the worsening and improving views of Trudeau and O’Toole respectively. In key battlegrounds – B.C., Ontario, and Quebec – views of O’Toole have improved, and views of Trudeau have deteriorated. Singh, too, fares well in those regions, and hopes to translate some of that enthusiasm to his local riding candidates in search of seats in the House of Commons:

Part Four: Vote intent

Conservatives now lead

For the first time since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ARI polling shows the Conservative Party of Canada with a lead – albeit the narrowest of them – in vote intention. One-third of Canadians say they intend to vote for the CPC candidate in their riding, while three-in-ten say they will vote Liberal. One-fifth say they will vote for the NDP:

While 33 per cent represents a high for the CPC, support for the party has held fairly steady throughout 2021. On the other hand, 30 per cent represents a new low for the Liberals, who have held the support of between 33 and 36 per cent of prospective voters throughout the calendar year. Despite enthusiasm for its leader, the NDP has not made gains in vote intention to mirror that passion:

Regional picture

For the Liberals, objects in their rear-view mirror are now much closer than they once appeared in the country’s two largest provinces. The Liberal lead over the Conservatives is now just two points in Ontario and the Bloc have narrowed the gap in Quebec to just three points. In what had been a tight three-party race in B.C., the Liberals find themselves trailing the CPC by nine points and the NDP by 10:

Demographic picture

While the Liberals still enjoy a plurality of support from women 35 and over, the gap between Trudeau’s party and the CPC for women over the age of 55 — the country’s largest and most consistent voting bloc — is just six points. Meanwhile, among the second largest voting bloc, men over the age of 55, O’Toole and the CPC enjoy an 18-point lead:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Aug. 27-29, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 1,639 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

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.

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Image – Wikimedia Commons


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821

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