Justin Trudeau arrives in Washington, D.C. Wednesday for his first prime ministerial visit and new polling finds that although a majority can identify the prime minister, most don’t really care about the state visit.
The new poll of U.S. residents, conducted exclusively for Global News, found that 68 per cent correctly named Trudeau as Canada’s prime minister from a list of six possible contenders.
(Infographic by Janet Cordahi)
Twelve per cent of respondents named the infamous “Pierre Poutine,” a pseudonym given to the person behind misleading robocalls during the 2011 election, as Canada’s leader.
Author Margaret Atwood, former prime minister Stephen Harper, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin were each chosen by six per cent of respondents, while Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was selected by three per cent of respondents.
“It does really speak to his celebrity and popularity as a very new and different leader for Canada,” said Julia Clark, senior vice-president for Ipsos in the U.S. “That has translated into more coverage than he would have otherwise had here in the U.S.”
The media circus following Trudeau on his visit to Washington has reached fevered levels according to headlines from U.S. new organizations.
Headlines like Politico’s “Justin Fever Hits Washington”, Bloomberg’s “Justin Trudeau: The Canadian Coming for Dinner” and last Sunday’s 60 Minutes interview with Trudeau illustrate why this prime ministerial visit might be different from the other visits that often rarely caused a stir in the American capital.
“I think there are a lot of people in Washington D.C. that have a political crush on Justin Trudeau,” said Matt Browne, senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress.
But while the media is fawning, new polling shows the American public is less than enthusiastic about the visit.
The new Ipsos poll found just 41 per cent agree (11 per cent strongly/30 per cent somewhat) that they will be “closely following the State Visit by the Canadian Prime Minister.” However, Trudeau is likely to get a warm reception from President Obama and the American people, as 91 per cent said they had a favourable view of the leader from the Great White North.
“Indifference is probably the right word,” said Clark. “Americans are pretty focused on domestic rather than international issues.”
Clark said that although the U.S. is in an election cycle and issues like international trade have been hot topics, most of the issues are seen through a “domestic lens”.
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Trudeau’s trip to Washington will be the first state visit by a Canadian prime minister in 19 years and could help shape the “special relationship” between Canada and the U.S.
“President Obama and PM Trudeau share a similar world view, the same set of political and social values,” said Browne. “They have a shared desire to tackle, in partnership, some of the most pressing global problems, whether that’s economic growth, climate change, or tackling violent extremism.”
And while Americans may not be paying attention to the visit, a strong majority consider Canada to be the most important neighbour to the U.S., with 76 per cent choosing Canada, compared to 24 per cent who believe it is Mexico.
Trudeau, accompanied by his wife Sophie, will land at Andrews Air Force Base Wednesday afternoon, followed by a reception. Thursday he meets with President Barack Obama and attends the state dinner.
He’ll end the three-day trip Friday when he lays a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery; speak at American University and attend a Canada 2020 luncheon before heading home.
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 March 4 and 7, 2016, with a sample of 1,006 American from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all American adults been polled.