Mulcair overtakes Harper as top choice for prime minister: poll

WATCH: Stephen Harper is claiming credit for a $5-billion surplus in the first quarter, but the other parties — and many Canadians — are casting a doubtful eye. Jacques Bourbeau reports.

Tom Mulcair is now the leader seen as the best choice for Prime Minister of Canada over current PM Stephen Harper, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News.

The poll, released Friday, suggests 37 per cent of the 1,000 Canadians surveyed online think the NDP leader is the best choice for prime minister.

And 40 per cent think Mulcair would run the most “open, responsible, and ethical” government. Ipsos last asked the Canadian public that question in April, and since then, Mulcair has switched places with Harper. Thirty-eight per cent thought Harper would make the best prime minister in April, and 27 per cent thought he was the most open.

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“Mr. Mulcair has won on both of these points. Here’s a guy who really hasn’t been involved in the debate so far, the debate primarily has between Mike Duffy’s trial and the prime minister,” John Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos said in an interview Friday.

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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is seen as the second best choice for prime minister with 32 per cent. Harper ranks third with just 31 per cent of respondents claiming he would be the best choice.

Friday’s Ipsos polls comes 24 hours after another Ipsos poll showed a tight race across Canada, with Mulcair’s NDP edging out a small lead.

Infographic by Janet Cordahi.

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A significant portion of the questions levied at Harper during the first three weeks of the campaign have concerned the fraud trial of Senator Mike Duffy and the secret repayment of $90,000.

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And at least a portion of the voting public has taken a serious interest in the Duffy trial. While 68 per cent of respondents told Ipsos the Duffy trial hasn’t changed the party they plan to vote for, 32 per cent said the opposite – they have been impacted.

“The Duffy trial has hurt the Conservatives,” Wright said. “Some people who were voting for the Conservatives at the moment have switched their vote.”

But with the trial going on a break until November, will the lingering questions about what Harper knew of the Duffy affair still weigh on the conscience of voters come Oct. 19? It’s hard to say, Wright said, but suggested voters will likely cast their ballot based on something other than character issues.

A poll conducted by Ipsos in the weeks prior to the election getting underway suggested the majority of Canadian voters were most concerned with pocketbook issues. Senate reform ranked far down the list.

And the trial’s hiatus allows the election campaign to enter its next chapter. Wright says he expects to see a markedly different campaign moving forward.

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“I suspect over the next 14 days, there’ll be a different climate change, we’ll move into getting the kids back to school, out of the summer, and then the advertising and the real campaign will begin.”

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“Already we’re starting to see the wheels turn towards deficit, towards economy, and surplus, the economic discussion,” Wright said.

And the campaign could move west, Wright said, suggesting British Columbia could be the “wild card” in determining which party forms the next government. Right now, all three parties have a chance of taking much of the province.

Exclusive Global News Ipsos 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.” This poll was conducted between August 24 and August 26, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel and is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Below are the full tables from Ipsos:

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