338 Canada: Conservatives Still Left Behind
Philippe J. Fournier: The latest round of polls suggests that the Conservatives are being brought down by an unpopular leader, putting the Liberals in solid majority territory.
In what was probably the last round of federal polls until the summer break (and maybe until the car is written in August?), Recent figures have shown that the Conservative Party of Canada and its leader Erin O’Toole lag further behind the government. Liberals. In the second half of June (see full list here), several polling companies have measured that the LPC leads the Conservatives by double digits nationally, namely Mainstreet Research, Abacus facts, Ipsosand Nanos Research (data paywalled here). Research Co. measures the advantage of the Liberals by 8 points, while Leger sees a closer race with a four point gap between the LPC and the CPC.
In the latest federal survey of Ipsos / Global NewsThe CCP’s support from coast to coast dropped to a paltry 26 percent, including a dismal 27 percent in Ontario and 23 percent in British Columbia (behind the Liberals and the NDP in the province). In Alberta, where Andrew Scheer’s CPC won 33 of 34 seats with 69 percent of the vote in 2019, Ipsos measures CPC support at just 38 percent. While these subsample data may be somewhat outliers, survey after survey has shown that the CPC has lost ground in Alberta compared to 2019 (see data here).
When breaking down the Ipsos results by demographics, we note that Liberals are leading among both male and female voters, as well as across all age groups. Among male voters, the Liberal Party leads the CCP by seven points (36 to 29 percent). Among female voters, Liberals hold a 15-point advantage over the NDP (40 to 25 percent), with the CCP in third place two points behind the NDP (technically a statistical tie for a distant second).
However, even more concerning to Conservatives in the latest Ipsos poll was the breakdown by age group. Among voters 55 and older, a demographic the CCP generally performs well with, liberals have an 11-point advantage over conservatives. Readers need not be reminded that, should the CCP lose older voters by such a margin at the polls this fall, the Liberals could potentially secure a decisive majority, one that would dwarf the LPC’s victory in 2015.
Liberals also lead the 35-54 age group by 13 points above Conservatives. Among younger voters (18-34 years old), Liberals have an 8-point advantage over the NDP (37-29 percent), and Conservatives fall to a distant third (20 percent).
Of course, voting intentions alone don’t tell the whole story. On Abacus factsAccording to the latest federal poll released last week, only 19 percent of Canadian voters had a positive impression of CCP leader Erin O’Toole. O’Toole’s net rating (positive impression minus negative impression) was measured at minus 21, by far the worst score among federal leaders. For the sake of comparison, Justin Trudeau placed a rating of minus 3, while Jagmeet Singh led the field with a rating of plus 9.
In early June, the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) had measured similar ratings of federal leaders. The ARI poll showed that 56 percent of Canadian voters had an unfavorable opinion of Erin O’Toole, against 28 percent who had a favorable opinion of the CCP leader, a net rating of minus-28. Research Co. it also ranked O’Toole with the worst approval numbers among federal leaders with an approval rating of minus-11.
Does this mean that the writing is on the wall for conservatives? Of course not. A lot can happen this summer and the chances of liberals tripping over their own shoelaces should not be underestimated. However, a party whose leader has significantly worse numbers than a sitting prime minister must be seen as a serious loser when launching an election campaign. What all these figures from various sources suggest is that the CPC brand is still far more popular than its own leader, and that, in fact, O’Toole may be pulling his party down.
When looking at federal polls since the 2015 elections, a general rule of thumb was that the CCP enjoys a hard floor of 30 percent of national support, a floor higher than any other party at the federal level, including liberals. However, in 11 federal polls conducted in June, CPC support was measured between 26 and 30 percent.
In fact, in the last month, the 30 percent mark has been the the ceiling, not your floor.
However, in the aggregate, the main difference between the current figures and the 2019 electoral results is not in Ontario or Quebec, but in Alberta and the Prairie Provinces. If Erin O’Toole loses, say, 20 points in Alberta compared to Andrew Scheer’s results in 2019, it would not make a significant difference to the overall seat count (the Liberal Party could expect to win two or three urban seats in the province ). However, and this is what the CCP leader said during the leadership race, O’Toole was supposed to boost CCP support in central Canada. It has not happened.
As we enter the summer hiatus with an autumn election looming on the horizon, all of these data suggest that perhaps Jagmeet Singh and Yves-François Blanchet are standing in the way of a second Trudeau majority, not O ‘Toole.
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