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Summer surge continues for the Conservatives
Polling from Pallas Data gives 9-point edge to Pierre Poilievre's Conservatives, while Liberal voters appear split on Trudeau as an asset
Fresh polling from Pallas Data puts Pierre Poilievre's Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) well ahead in voting intentions in the country, confirming trends that have been observed in recent weeks. What's more, a significant fraction of potential Liberal voters say they would be more inclined to support the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) if the party were to change its leader.
Let's start with the horserace. From coast to coast, the Conservatives garner 39% of support, a 9-point lead over Justin Trudeau's Liberals — well outside the poll’s margin of error. The Liberals sit in second place with 30% of support, and the New Democratic Party (NDP) stands as a distant third with the support of 17% of survey respondents.
This nine-point lead for the Conservatives falls generally in line with trends measured by federal polls this summer (see complete list of federal polls here). Indeed, Abacus Data and Angus Reid had measured leads of 7 and 9 points, respectively, for the CPC in August. Back in July, the gap between the CPC and the LPC was between 9 and 10 points, according to polling by Léger and Abacus Data.
The regional breakdowns in this Pallas Data survey show that the CPC holds the lead over its rivals everywhere east of the Ontario-Manitoba border. In Ontario, the CPC (38%) is statistically tied with the LPC (36%), while the NDP remains far behind at 18%.
It's in Quebec that Pallas Data's figures may raise a few eyebrows. If the Bloc Québécois (29%) and the Liberal Party (28%) continue to battle it out at the top, the Conservatives find themselves close behind at 25%. This would represent a triple statistical tie in the province.
I'm using the conditional tense here, because, as always, we need to be careful with regional sub-samples, as they contain more uncertainty than national figures. However, this is the fourth federal poll since July to measure CPC support at or above the 20%-mark in Quebec. Could it be that Poilievre's message is finding some echoes in the province? Too early to tell, but it’s definitely something to watch over the coming fall.
Beyond voting intentions, does the data published over the summer indicate that Canadian voters want change at the federal level? Numbers differ on the question.
In July, Abacus Data measured that a majority of Canadians believed it was time for a change at the helm of the country, but nearly a third felt there was no good alternative (see report here). Meanwhile, the Angus Reid Institute measured that 57% of Canadians disapprove of Prime Minister Trudeau - a significant fraction for sure, but one that has remained generally stable over the past twelve months (see report).
This new Pallas Data survey asked its respondents: “Would you be more or less likely to vote for the Liberal Party of Canada if it were led by a leader other than Justin Trudeau?”
Among all respondents, 47% answered they would be more inclined to vote for the Liberals if Justin Trudeau were to leave as leader.
This overall measure, however, is not as revealing as the breakdown by age and voting intentions.
More than half of voters under 50 years old would be more inclined to vote liberal if the LPC were led by another leader, compared with a quarter who would be less inclined. There's a clear generational divide: The survey data shows that older voters are much less likely to want Justin Trudeau to be replaced.
Another notable fact in the results is that Liberal voters themselves are divided over Justin Trudeau's fate. Among respondents who say they currently support the LPC, 38% would be more inclined to vote for the Liberals if it were led by another leader, against 40% who would be less inclined - equivalent proportions considering the size of this sub-sample.
Among NDP voters (who are always courted by Liberals during campaigns), a majority (54%) would be more likely to support the LPC if Justin Trudeau were to leave office.
Of course, we need to interpret these results with caution, as past polls have often indicated that "another leader" — this imaginary politician without a name or face — is often the preferred option of many respondents faced with hypothetical scenarios.
A recent example: In the summer of 2020, during the Conservative Party leadership race, Léger tested the names of all four candidates running for CPC leader (Erin O'Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan), and none performed better against Justin Trudeau than when only party names were cited in the poll questionnaire. “Unnamed generic Conservative” leader fared better than all leadership candidates.
In opinion polls, “Somebody else” is often more popular than any specific “somebody”.
Nevertheless, the mere fact that so many Liberal and NDP voters say they'd be more likely to vote for a LPC without Justin Trudeau at the helm may speak volumes about how steep a hill the Prime Minister has to climb out of before the next federal election.
While the data tells us that Conservative voters are united behind their leader, the same cannot be said of Liberal voters.
More to come this week, so stay tuned.
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This Pallas Data poll was fielded August 16-17, 2023, and collected answers from 1,021 Canadians using automated telephone interviews (IVR). Respondents were interviewed on landlines and cellular phones. The sample was weighted by age, gender, and region according to the 2021 Census. The survey is intended to represent the adult population in Canada. The margin or error is ±3.1% at the 95% confidence level. Margins of error are higher for subsamples. Find the Pallas Data report here.