by David Korzinski | September 26, 2022 9:00 pm
September 27, 2022 – The ascendance of Pierre Poilievre as leader of the Conservatives is giving his party an advantage in vote intent over the Liberals not seen in more than three years.
Since the 2019 election, the two parties have been locked in what has mostly amounted to a statistical tie in national vote intention – generally driven by the rise and fall the fortunes of the Trudeau government in the moment rather than momentum for the Conservatives.
Now the opposition party – which last month elected its third leader in as many years – is pulling together a right-of-centre base that includes not only its own supporters but those who turned out for the People’s Party in the 2021 general election.
The result is now a seven-point lead in vote intention for the Conservatives, according to new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute. Three-quarters of those who supported the PPC in the last federal election (5% of Canadians voted for the PPC) say they would now support the CPC.
Overall, three-in-ten Canadians say they would vote Liberal, while one-in-five would vote for the NDP.
In terms of leadership, the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau and Poilievre have strengths and weaknesses they will need to buttress or overcome. Poilievre is seen as best to lead on a number of key issues including managing the federal deficit, economic growth, and the cost of living. Meanwhile, Trudeau is the preferred choice to steward Canada’s place on the world stage, the nation’s social safety net, climate change policy, and health care.
In terms of the personal appeal of Trudeau and Poilievre, there is an emerging gender dynamic at play. Women are far more likely to approve of Trudeau’s performance (47% vs 32%). When asked about Poilievre, 45 per cent of men view him favourably, compared to just 26 per cent of women. This extends to vote intention. The CPC is the top choice among all male age groups and no female age groups. Women younger than 35 prefer the NDP, while those older than 34 prefer the Liberals.
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.
Note: Because its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves, data on Prince Edward Island is not released.
With fall comes consistency in the issues that are front of mind in the summer: runaway cost of living and an ailing health-care system.
Related: Access to Health Care: Free, but for all? Nearly nine million Canadians report chronic difficulty getting help
Three-in-five (60%) Canadians select inflation as a top issue of personal concern. Approaching half (45%) say so of health care. Those two issues vastly outpace other challenges facing the country, such as climate change (selected by 28%), housing affordability (27%) and the economy more generally (21%). Those numbers remain similar to the summer, when three-in-five (63%) said cost of living was a top concern, half (52%) said health care, three-in-ten (31%) chose housing affordability and one-quarter (26%) chose climate change.
Concerns over inflation transcend politics: more than half of past voters for all five main federal parties say cost of living is a top concern, ranking it first among issues for all but past Liberal voters.
Health care also ranks highly for past Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Bloc supporters, though Conservatives are less likely to select it as a top issue than the others.
Those who voted Liberal, NDP and Bloc last year are more likely than those who voted PPC and CPC to select climate change as a top issue. Meanwhile, at least two-in-five PPC (41%) and CPC (37%) voters say the deficit is a pressing national concern:
There is also much agreement on the top two issues facing Canada across age and gender lines. At least half of all age and gender demographics say cost of living is a top concern, while health care ranks in the top two most selected issues for all except men under the age of 35. Men are more likely than women to be personally concerned with the economy, while women are more likely to select climate change and housing affordability:
Canadians were asked to consider a number of these key issues and which of the two party leaders most likely to form government in a future election they consider best to steward the nation. As with Conservative leaders before him, Pierre Poilievre garners most of his support in the economic realm. More than two-in-five (44%) say Poilievre is best to handle the federal deficit, while 28 per cent prefer Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In setting economic policy and reducing the cost of living, Poilievre holds a similar but smaller advantage. And while Trudeau cedes ground on economic issues, he is viewed as more capable on two of the country’s top three issues – health care and climate change.
The perceptions of which leader would be best on each issue are divided politically. However, though in the minority overall, there are more past NDP and Liberal voters willing to believe Poilievre would be better suited to handle financial issues, including the economy generally (12% Liberal, 14% NDP), the federal deficit (15%, 19%) and cost of living (11%, 12%), than issues relating to health care, unity, the social safety net, or Canada’s international reputation.
And, again, though they are minority opinions, past CPC voters are slightly more likely to give Trudeau the nod on climate change (13%) and Canada’s social safety net (11%) than on other issues.
Those who voted Bloc Québécois in last year’s election are more likely to hand the federal deficit to Poilievre and are divided on the economy overall and cost of living. For all other issues, Trudeau comes out ahead among those past voters:
As Trudeau returns from paying his respects to the Queen – and to the rock supergroup Queen – he faces a new opposition leader in the House of Commons. The PM’s standing among the electorate, however, is familiar – two-in-five Canadians approve of his performance as prime minister, while more than half (56%) do not:
Disapproval for Trudeau is much higher among men than women, with half of men over the age of 34 – and more than two-in-five younger than that – saying they strongly disapprove of the Liberal leader. Women over the age of 54 are the most likely demographic to positively appraise Trudeau:
Four-in-five who voted for the Liberals one year ago say they approve of Trudeau. And while the Liberals won a minority government in that election, they have been operating without fear of falling because of the cooperation of the NDP and leader Jagmeet Singh via a supply and confidence agreement. Those who voted NDP are more split on the prime minister their party is helping keep in power – half (52%) approve, more than two-in-five (44%) do not. Those who supported the Bloc Québécois are more negative (64% disapprove), while those who voted for the CPC (93%) and PPC (97%) are near universal in their dissatisfaction with the prime minister:
Poilievre may have won a commanding victory in the CPC leadership race, but his task ahead is to bring a wider network of voters around. At present, just over a third of respondents say they view Poilievre favourably (35%) while slightly more than half have a negative view of the CPC leader (51%). These data are not significantly different from how Canadians feel about Trudeau, outlined above, reflecting the increasingly polarized nature of political preference in the country.
Poilievre fares better among men than women, and younger men especially. Half (49%) of men aged 18- to 34-years-old say they view the new CPC leader favourably, the only demographic where positive views outweigh negative ones. Comparatively, women of all ages are half as likely to view Poilievre favourably as not:
Poilievre begins his term as CPC leader far better known than his predecessors. Fourteen per cent say they can’t offer an opinion about the new leader, while more than twice as many said the same about previous leaders Andrew Scheer (37%) and Erin O’Toole (39%). However, this familiarity is for worse than for better. Negative views of Poilievre (51%) are much more common than in the early days of either Scheer (31%) or O’Toole (31%):
There is a clear political divide in views of Poilievre. Those who voted PPC (87%) or CPC (78%) in last year’s election are most likely to view him positively. Those who voted Liberal (9%), NDP (9%) or Bloc Québécois (20%) do not.
Jagmeet Singh continues to be the most favourably viewed federal party leader. Approaching half (47%) of Canadians have favourable views of the NDP leader. However, as many Canadians (46%) are negative in their assessment (see detailed tables).
To get a sense of how Canadians view the leaders of the country’s two largest political parties, Angus Reid Institute presented a series of personality traits and asked Canadians to assign up to five to both Poilievre and Trudeau.
On the balance for both leaders, Canadians are more likely to apply negative characteristics than positive ones. Canadians are most likely to see Poilievre as arrogant (chosen by 40%), strategic (32%), a bully (30%), dishonest (27%) and strong (25%). Trudeau is commonly viewed as arrogant (49%), dishonest (45%), corrupt (39%), charismatic (37%) and weak (36%):
Positive views of Poilievre are sourced from past CPC and PPC voters – the latter perhaps speaking to his pull among that group. In fact, past PPC voters are more likely to highlight positive characteristics – strong (66%), strategic (55%), charismatic (53%), down to earth (53%) and honest (51%) – than past CPC voters. This follows Poilievre’s vocal support of the “Freedom Convoy”, which mirrored the People’s Party of Canada’s embrace of the protest. Notably, donors who donated to the Ottawa convoy protest also donated more than $460,000 to the Conservative leadership race, of which more than 70 per cent went to Poilievre.
Past Liberal, NDP and Bloc voters are more likely to assign negative attributes to Poilievre, though three-in-ten of those who voted for the Bloc Québécois last year describe him as strategic:
The story for Trudeau is less cleanly divided along party lines. CPC and PPC voters are overwhelmingly negative in their choices of adjectives, including more than four-in-five in both camps who view him as dishonest and arrogant.
Past Liberal voters are the most positive about their leader. On some descriptors – charismatic (58% Liberal, 54% NDP) and strategic (43%, 35%) – they are joined by those who voted NDP last year. However, past NDP voters are more likely to have negative perceptions of Trudeau. Two-in-five past NDP supporters believe the prime minister to be arrogant, and three-in-ten (31%) say he is dishonest.
As well, those who voted Bloc are more likely to be critical than not. More than half (55%) describe Trudeau as weak. More than two-in-five (45%) say he is “boring”:
While a federal election is not scheduled to take place until the fall of 2025, a minority Liberal government, supported by a confidence-and-supply agreement with the New Democrats, has plenty of political watchers suggesting that a full four-year term is unlikely. Whenever it is called, the Conservative Party will enter the next election with a different leader for a fourth consecutive campaign, while Trudeau says he will stay on for a fourth campaign.
The early returns from the Poilievre leadership tenure appear positive for the Conservative Party, as it has drawn back a number of disenchanted or new voters who voted for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party last year. That said, expanding the voter base beyond this group will be the core challenge of the CPC. Three-in-ten Canadians say they would support the Liberals if an election were held, while one-in-five would vote for the NDP:
While the main federal parties enjoy professed support from at least three-quarters of those who voted for them in 2021, this is not the case for the PPC. Three-quarters of this group say they would now vote for the Conservatives. Given the closeness of popular vote in the 2019 and 2021 elections, it is also of note that slivers of past Liberal and NDP voters are also giving the CPC a look:
There is an evident divergence between men and women in vote intention, which now sees men of all age groups showing a clear preference for the CPC, while that party does not register as the top choice for any female cohort. Younger women, those aged18 to 34, offer the NDP its highest levels of support, while women older than this continue to be most likely to support the Liberal Party. Importantly, the dominance among young voters the spurred a Liberal majority in Justin Trudeau’s first election as leader appears to have evaporated:
The Conservative Party has won the popular vote in two consecutive elections while failing to form government, largely on the strength of overwhelming but inefficient vote shares in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and important losses in Quebec and Ontario. Ontario currently appears competitive, with the CPC garnering 39 per cent and the Liberals 36 per cent. Support for the CPC is also up slightly compared to the 2021 election in British Columbia and Quebec.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Sept. 19 – 22, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 5,014 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 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. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.
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 in English and French, click here.
Image – Pierre Poilievre/Facebook
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