Liberal approval rating drops to 44% as women, middle class look to Tories: Ipsos poll

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Poll: Trudeau Liberals’ popularity slips, Tories surge ahead
WATCH ABOVE: An Ipsos poll finds support for the Justin Trudeau Liberals has tumbled, falling well behind the Conservatives, particularly in vote-rich Ontario. As Eric Sorensen reports, Trudeau's misadventure in India may have been a turning point. – Mar 26, 2018

Discontent with the Trudeau Liberals has grown to such a level that if a federal election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives would romp to a comfortable win.

That’s according to a new Ipsos poll that found the Liberals to be hemorrhaging support even among their target demographics, namely the middle class, women and millennials, with many progressives increasingly weighing up a vote for the NDP.

Overall, 56 per cent of the 1,003 Canadians surveyed for the poll said the Liberals have fallen short of expectations, with 60 per cent saying it’s time for them to make way for another federal party.

Only five per cent said the Trudeau government exceeded their expectations.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have a gender-balanced cabinet, but it’s the Conservative party that’s doing best with female voters.

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Thirty-five per cent of women say they’d vote for the Conservatives, with the Liberals snagging 30 per cent and the NDP not far behind at 26 per cent.

The Conservatives also enjoy an advantage across income groups, with their lead increasing steadily with income. Their lead over the Liberals stands at three percentage points among people making $40,000 or less, and sits at a healthy 14 per cent in the $100,000+ income range.

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As far as age groups go, the Conservatives are comfortably (47 per cent) the preferred party of people aged 55 and over, with the Liberals lagging well behind at 30 per cent and the NDP at 16 per cent. The Tories also have a nine percentage point lead over Gen Xers, or people aged 35-54.

Millennials are the only demographic group that favour the Liberals, but with 33 per cent approval to the NDP’s 31 per cent, the lead is slim to say the least. The Conservatives sit at 24 per cent.

“[The Liberals] seem to be losing middle class supporters to the Conservatives, and they seem to be losing that millennial group of the population to the NDP,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Affairs. “So progressive voters are splitting again. And when progressive voters split, that’s when conservatives win.
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“Whatever the Liberals have been doing in terms of their targeting doesn’t seem to have panned out.”

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The province-by-province number breakdown also makes for worrisome reading for the Liberals.
The Conservatives enjoy a huge lead in the country’s most popular province, Ontario, where they enjoy 42 per cent of the decided vote. The NDP are second with 27 per cent, and the Liberals third just one point behind. Bricker puts the Ontario numbers down to “probably a combination of what’s happening provincially, but also people’s reactions to the federal government’s positions generally have swung over to the Conservatives.”

In each of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, over half of respondents said they’d vote Conservative, with Bricker labeling the prairies a “dead zone” for the Liberals.

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Indeed, the only regions in which the Liberals are competitive are Quebec, where they have 40 per cent of the decided vote to the Conservatives’ 22 per cent and the NDP’s 18 per cent, and Atlantic Canada, where they enjoy 47 per cent support compared to the Tories’ 26 per cent and NDP’s 22 per cent.

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“The only region they lead in is Atlantic Canada, but there aren’t enough seats there to make a difference,” Bricker said. “The new way to win in Canadian politics is when the West gets together with particularly suburban Ontario. That’s a winning combination.”

As for the causes behind the Liberals’ slide, Bricker says that while the government has generally had a difficult six months or so, it was the prime minister’s troubled trip to India that looks to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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“What it seems to have done is created a bit of a bursting of the dam. I think there was a fair amount of discomfort with the direction of the government, which had built up behind that dam over probably the last six months starting to back when they tried to change taxation policy for small business,” Bricker said.

“Outside of an election campaign, you tend not to see numbers move as quickly as these numbers have moved, and the trigger point seems to have been that trip to India.”

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The Liberals’ loss has to some extent been the NDP’s gain, with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s woes over alleged ties to Sikh separatists not preventing his party from enjoying a 2 per cent bump.

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“That shows that progressive voters are evaluating some of their choices at the moment and that’s very dangerous for the Liberal Party, because if the NDP becomes stronger and the Conservatives are where they are right now, it’s very difficult for the Liberals to win from there,” Bricker said.

But he also suggested that Singh and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer shouldn’t be too quick to pat themselves on the back.

“What all this shows is that this is basically about Mr. Trudeau and the government, it’s got very little to do with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, adding that Singh’s troubles haven’t yet earned him the wrath of respondents because “what they’re really looking at is the prime minister and his government.”

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And respondents aren’t happy with what they’re seeing. The proportion of Canadians who say the country is on the right track is 49 per cent — down eight points since early January. Meanwhile, the proportion of Canadians who say things are going downhill is up eight points to 51 per cent.

“What we’ve seen is a course correction for the government in the negative direction. Now 44 per cent isn’t tragic… remember, Justin Trudeau only won about 39 per cent of the vote in the last election. But it’s the trend that’s the problem,” Bricker said.

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“They need to find a way to reconnect with Canadians, because whatever was working for them back in 2015 — and certainly at least the first 18 months of their mandate — seems to have gone in the other direction. They need to find a way to reconnect with the Canadian population and adjust their priorities to match the priorities of the population overall.

“There’s a misalignment between the priorities that the government has and the priorities that Canadians have. And that’s what their challenge is going to be — how do they align those things back up?”

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 21 and 23, 2018, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,003 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.

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