April 13, 2016 5:37 pm

Seeds of Mulcair’s defeat sown on election day

WATCH ABOVE: On Wednesday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair spoke about proudly staying on as the leader of the NDP until his “leadership review.”


As the dust settles after Sunday’s defeat for Tom Mulcair in the federal NDP’s leadership review, many are looking for clues as to what made so many party members turn on their former helmsman.

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Ipsos election day polling for Global News revealed that the seeds of Mulcair’s defeat on Sunday were sown in the voting booth last October. Even among those who stuck with Mulcair and voted for the NDP, many weren’t happy about their selection.

READ MORE: The many faces of Tom Mulcair, and what the NDP wants from a leader

Only 3 in 5 Canadians who voted for the NDP (63 per cent) felt Mulcair would make the best Prime Minister of Canada – well below the 74 per cent of Liberal Party voters who felt the same about Justin Trudeau, or the 86 per cent of Tory voters who thought that Stephen Harper would make the best Prime Minister. For Mulcair, this is tepid support from among his own party’s base.

WATCH: Tom Clark looks at some possibilities now that the NDP has voted 52 per cent to replace Tom Mulcair as leader.

During the election campaign, Mulcair was put in a difficult position on the niqab issue, attempting to reconcile the views of Quebecers – who bestowed upon his party its best federal election showing ever in 2011 – with the views of the rest of Canadians. As demonstrated by the swift decline of the NDP in Quebec in the second half of the campaign, his position was highly unpopular in Quebec while failing to garner the NDP any new votes outside of Quebec. The worst possible outcome for the NDP.

READ MORE: Who will replace Tom Mulcair as NDP leader? It could be a crowded field

Mulcair and his advisors made another fatal miscalculation in the Federal Election. By moving to the centre in an attempt to appeal to more mainstream voters (for example by promising balanced budgets), they were outflanked on the left by the Liberals who swiftly moved to occupy the ground abandoned by the Dippers.

As the record-length election campaign wore on, Mulcair’s image was contrasted with Trudeau’s “sunny ways”, and as Canadians were looking for an alternative to the Harper Conservatives, Mulcair did not inspire them.

WATCH: NDP MPs react to vote ousting Tom Mulcair as party leader

Just 39 per cent of NDP voters described Mulcair as the most inspirational of all the party leaders. In contrast, 71 per cent of Liberal voters said that Trudeau is the most inspirational of the party leaders.

One of Ipsos’ favourite election questions is to ask Canadians which party leader they’d most like to have a beer or coffee with. It gives us a sense of likability, a leaders’ connection with voters, and the potential to win voters who traditionally support other parties.

READ MORE: MPs in Ottawa defend Tom Mulcair as NDP interim leader

Only 42 per cent of NDP voters said they most wanted to have a beer or coffee with Mulcair, well behind what other voters said of their party leaders and highlighting the limited appeal of Mulcair among his own voters.

The poll also showed that if the NDP didn’t win the most seats, 15 per cent of NDP voters said he should resign as leader. Clearly the NDP didn’t come close to that goal: they didn’t win the most seats, or the second-most seats. In fact, despite the addition of 30 new seats in the House of Commons, the NDP lost 51 seats, receiving only 20 per cent of the popular vote. They gave up all of the ground they gained in the 2011 Election, taking them back to square one.

Given the party’s poor performance on election day, and the tepid support for Mulcair even among his own voters, on Sunday party members decided it was time for change. Simply put, Mulcair did not have broad appeal, even among the rank-and-file of his own party. Given the strong appeal of Justin Trudeau among his own party members and some traditional NDP supporters, it’s no wonder the NDP decided to begin the search for a new leader who can go toe-to-toe with Trudeau. NDP voters want to be inspired, too.

This article was written by Sean Simpson , the Vice President of Ipsos Public Affairs in Canada. Ipsos is the official polling partner of Global News.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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