Halfway between elections, Canadians unsure of new federal leaders

By David Boughton

At the midpoint of the 2015 and 2019 elections, Canadians continue to approve of Justin Trudeau, while they’ve yet to form much of an opinion of the other two leaders. A recent Abacus Data poll shows the impression of the leaders of the three major political parties in Canada[1]http://abacusdata.ca/canadian-political-leaders-the-midpoint-reset/.

Trudeau continues to hold a strong lead over Conservative Andrew Scheer and New Democrat Jagmeet Singh. 48% of respondents have a positive impression of the Prime Minister, compared to only 18% and 17% for Scheer and Singh respectively.

Yet the Prime Minister should worry about declining numbers. His positive impression has dropped 11 points from a high of 59% in August 2016. At the same time, his negative rating has increased from a low of 24% to 31% today.

Despite a deteriorating image, Trudeau is leading in all categories in the poll. Canadians believe a good heart, smart, and interesting best describe the Prime Minister. His smallest lead is in the “tough” category. All three leaders scored low in the “understands people like you” category, with this being the worst category for Singh. Among millennials, the numbers look worse for Scheer and slightly better for Singh. Trudeau still leads in all categories with millennials.

Canadian opinions appear to be the result of how well they know the leaders. Trudeau’s public profile contributes to higher positive and negative ratings, as Canadians are more likely to have an opinion of his performance. 84% say they have a very good or pretty good idea of what type of person the Prime Minister is. This is much higher than Scheer and Singh, who are both under 30%. This situation is different than before the 2015 election when Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulclair were much better known to Canadians.

For Scheer specifically, he must get out of the shadow of Harper. Yet, he may be doing just that. In almost all image categories, he ranked higher than the former Conservative leader. Among Conservative supporters, these number look even stronger.

The two opposition leaders must now make themselves better known to Canadian voters if they want to improve their images. Trudeau, on the other hand, now looks to stop his image decline before the 2019 election.

References   [ + ]

1. http://abacusdata.ca/canadian-political-leaders-the-midpoint-reset/