The poll presented respondents with three hypothetical current candidates as leader.
Between O’Leary, Maxime Bernier and Kellie Leitch, the polling results suggested O’Leary is the leadership hopeful who would give the Conservatives their best shot at challenging the Trudeau Liberals in the next federal election.
“O’Leary is better off just on his name recognition,” Bricker said. “Putting him up against someone with equally, if not better name recognition – the current prime minister – shows it’s comparative.”
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Here are the polling results among decided voters who were presented with the three hypotheticals:
- With O’Leary as leader, the Conservatives would sit at 37 per cent, the Liberals at 38 per cent and the NDP at 17 per cent.
- With Bernier at the helm, the Conservatives would earn only 28 per cent of the vote, moving the Liberals up to 42 per cent and the NDP up to 20 per cent.
- And if Kellie Leitch was elected leader, her party’s support would shrink to 26 per cent, while the Liberals sat at 42 per cent and the NDP would have 21 per cent.
In the hypotheticals with Bernier or Leitch as leader, the results suggested the Conservatives wouldn’t fare much better than at present. Current voter preference (if there was an election tomorrow) shows 41 per cent favour the Liberals, 30 per cent favour the Conservatives and 19 per cent for the NDP, according to Ipsos.
In the above scenarios, O’Leary’s popularity appeared to come at the expense of the NDP among the decided voters polled.
Though the vast majority of decided voters indicated they’d vote their party regardless of who’s leading the Conservatives, more than two in 10 NDP voters appeared ready to jump ship to the Conservatives if O’Leary was leader.
“We’ve seen this trend elsewhere. The idea that it’s exclusively people from the right that are attracted to the populist message is incorrect,” Bricker said, pointing to former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, the successful Brexit referendum in the U.K. and America’s election of President Donald Trump as examples.
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“People on the left who are tired of the status quo are listening, too.”
Support for the hypothetical O’Leary Conservatives also comes from undecided voters, according to the poll results. The number of respondents who indicated they were undecided was lowest when they were presented with O’Leary leading (23 per cent), compared to 30 per cent with Bernier and 29 per cent with Leitch.
Though name recognition likely has a lot to do with O’Leary’s popularity, Bricker said, his messaging also plays a part.
“Probably to some extent, people are feeling like he’s a bit of a disruptive force,” he said.
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 January 23 and 25, 2017, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians 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 Canadian adults been polled.