338Canada: O’Toole numbers return to pre-election levels

Philippe J. Fournier: New Abacus poll shows Tory leader’s approvals have plunged since the election, highlighting challenges ahead for the party

The first session of the 44th legislature (finally) started last week, almost two months after the parliamentary elections in September. While voting intentions have (unsurprisingly) remained broadly stable during this period, this long hiatus in parliamentary hostilities does not appear to have benefited Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, whose party has been embroiled in internal squabbles since her defeat. electoral. Namely, a new poll published by Abacus data shows that the Conservative leader’s impressions have fallen back to their pre-electoral level.

To the question: “Do you have a positive or negative impression of the following federal party leaders?” O’Toole’s favorable responses took a nosedive: 23% positive versus 45% negative, for a net score of -22, the worst score among the main federal party leaders.

At the start of the federal campaign in August, Abacus had measured O’Toole’s impression at a similar net score of -21. However, as the campaign progressed, the perception of the leader of the CCP improved dramatically, reaching a score of -10 in mid-September. Looking back, improving his personal numbers was a leading indicator of growing support for his party, which peaked in early September only to fall back after leaders’ debates.

Here are the figures of the three main party leaders:

While the Prime Minister’s approval rating has eroded slightly since the election, Abacus has not measured any dramatic change. With 40 percent positive impressions and 41 percent negative impressions, Justin Trudeau enters this new legislature with a net score of -1 in the Abacus poll, up from +5 at the end of the campaign.

Only NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is doing well, with 42% positives and 23% negatives, a net score of +19. Nonetheless, these numbers remain similar to those measured at the end of the campaign last September, and the challenge for Singh in this 44th legislature will be to find a way to turn that positive perception into real support at the polls, which he does not need. failed to accomplish. in the 2019 and 2021 elections. Federal leaders receiving a third kick in the box are rare, but it looks like Singh is firmly in the saddle as leader of the NDP, at least in the short to medium term.

Let’s take a look at the approval ratings of these leaders based on the voting intentions of the respondents. Unsurprisingly, the Prime Minister’s best numbers come from Liberal voters. Eighty-seven percent of this group of voters have a positive impression of Justin Trudeau. Among voters from other parties, a quarter of Bloc Québécois and NDP voters say they have a good impression of Justin Trudeau, but a majority of Bloc Québécois (61%), Green (64%), Conservative (78%) and the Popular Party (84%) have a negative impression of the Prime Minister.

In the case of Jagmeet Singh, he registers high support among his party voters (in proportions similar to Trudeau among the Liberals), with 86 percent positive impressions. Among the supporters of the other parties, there is an important division: on the one hand, there are the Liberals and the Greens, among which Singh registers net scores of +24 and +18 respectively; on the other hand, the leader of the NDP is viewed negatively above all by Conservative (-16), Bloc (-30) and PPC (-33) voters.

What about Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole? Among his party supporters, 70 percent still have a positive impression of him, a slightly lower proportion than Trudeau and Singh in their respective ridings, but higher than what Abacus Data measured last spring (62 percent ). However, we note that the Conservative leader scores poorly among voters in other parties: only 8 to 13 percent of voters in the NDP, Bloc, Liberals and Greens view O’Toole positively.

Even among Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada (PPC) voters, O’Toole has a dismal bottom line of -33 (21 percent positive impression and 54 percent negative impression).

These low levels of cross-party appreciation suggest that the Conservative Party, despite winning the popular vote in the last two general elections (by one point over the Liberals), is still hampered by limited growth potential, even with a leader who is seen as more centrist than his predecessors. Given that O’Toole must find a way to broaden his electoral base if he is to have any hope of winning the next election (if his party keeps him in power until then, of course), how he and his team should they interpret this data?

Some Tory strategists may believe that trying to bring PPC voters back into the fold would give the Tory Party a chance to return to power (Maxime Bernier’s party won 5% of the vote last September). However, this strategy could prove to be a dead end for O’Toole: although the sample of PPC voters in this poll is small, the differences between the Tory leader’s positive and negative impressions far exceed a reasonable margin of error. . Most PPC voters take a dim view of O’Toole, and so if O’Toole courted Maxime Bernier voters, this strategy might convince only a small number of them to switch parties, while pushing back further. swing voters, among those many might seek a change of government after a decade of Trudeau in power.

We’ll see if O’Toole can improve his numbers now that Canadians can finally see him in action in the House of Commons.

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