Is Peter MacKay the best choice for future PM? Tory voters say yes

WATCH ABOVE: Global’s Erika Tucker asks Ipsos Reid’s Darrell Bricker the significance of new poll results suggesting Justice Minister Peter MacKay is Tory voters’ top choice to replace the PM.

TORONTO – Though Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he has no intention of changing the fixed election date of Oct. 19, 2015, there’s been some speculation he could step down before the fall, or call an early election in the spring. A new Global News/Ipsos Reid poll suggests half (48 per cent) of Canadians agree that overall, the Conservative majority government is “working well” for our country. So who could his successor be?

Justice Minister and Attorney General Peter MacKay has the most support from Tory voters polled at 35 per cent —  a significant lead on the other candidates. Click through the gallery below to see the Alberta politician who comes in second at 17 per cent, and the six others who are trailing behind.

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MacKay’s lead in the poll may be heavily influenced by sheer visibility, suggests Ipsos Reid Global Public Affairs CEO Darrell Bricker.

“He’s a well-known entity within the Conservative movement—being the former leader and the last leader of the Progressive Conservative party—so it would stand to reason that he’d have a bit of an advantage,” said Bricker. “But the thing about leadership campaigns is once they start, everybody starts getting on the chart—so I expect that visibility advantage would narrow over time.”

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A large majority (71 per cent) of Conservative voters surveyed believe Harper should stay on as leader of the party as long as he keeps winning elections, while two in ten think he should run in the next election, but step down in a year or two “to give another leader time to take over before the following election.” Only eight per cent of Tory voters who participated in the poll thought Harper should resign before the 2015 election.

Bricker says this shows how “out of step” some media reports are in terms of Harper’s “hold on power.”

“For all those who think he’s being forced to consider leaving or maybe even contemplating it because he lacks support within his party—that’s clearly not true.”

Janet Cordahi / Global News

While the poll suggests approval for Harper’s job as prime minister is in line with support for the Tory majority in general at 49 per cent, there’s a 10 per cent difference on key campaign issues: 51 per cent of those polled approve of the government’s overall management of the economy, but only 41 per cent agree the Harper government is doing a good job in protecting the environment.

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READ MORE: 5 highs and lows from the fall session of Parliament

Still, Bricker emphasizes it takes 40 per cent of the vote to win a majority election in Canada.

“If you’ve got half the population saying you’re doing a good job, you’re actually in a pretty competitive spot,” he said. “As we get into a run up to the election, it’s pretty clear that the Conservatives are probably in the best circumstance they’ve been in since the last federal election.”

Janet Cordahi / Global News

Exclusive Global News Ipsos Reid polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll involved online interviews with a sample of 1,005 Canadians between December 16 to 19, 2014 on behalf of Global News. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled.

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Read the full data tables from the poll below:

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