Among decided and leaning voters surveyed by Ipsos, the Liberals had 36 per cent support compared to 35 per cent for the Conservatives. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP were well back at 20 per cent. Other parties, including the Greens, were polling under five per cent.
And while those numbers are certain to change as each party gets into campaign mode over the next 12 months, Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker believes a Trudeau repeat is not automatic.
“Looking at the numbers right now, it’s going to be a pretty competitive election,” Bricker said. “That [Scheer] is basically tied with someone who’s a rock star in Canadian politics has to be concerning for the Liberal Party.”
Trudeau, an incumbent prime minister at the head of a majority government, is a global celebrity with wide name recognition in Canada. By contrast, four in 10 of the Canadian adults surveyed by Ipsos could not name Scheer as the opposition leader and nearly half — 49 per cent — of those surveyed could not name Singh as NDP leader.
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Meanwhile, Trudeau’s disapprovals, at 52 per cent, are now slightly higher than his approvals at 48 per cent. That approval rating has declined by seven percentage points since July. Ipsos has found a lower approval rating for Trudeau only once since the fall of 2016 and that was in March when it drooped to 44 per cent in the wake of a widely panned official visit to India.
“What’s making the election situation competitive is the fact that the Liberals seem to be out of step with what the public is looking for,” Bricker said.
For example, the prime minister and his cabinet have spent considerable time and energy in recent weeks speaking about gender equity, climate change and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And yet, when survey respondents were asked to choose their top three issues, 35 per cent picked health care, 28 per cent picked taxes, and 27 per cent picked the economy.
Climate change was the fifth-most frequently picked at 18 per cent, while Indigenous issues and women’s issues were the choices of just five per cent of those surveyed.
“So there’s a misalignment,” Bricker said.
On an issue-by-issue basis, the Trudeau Liberals earn their highest approval rating on their handling of crime and the justice system (51 per cent approval), on their renegotiation of NAFTA (50 per cent) and on the way they have managed relations with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump (49 per cent).
The lowest approval ratings for the Trudeau Liberals are on housing affordability (40 per cent), on immigration (41 per cent) and on delivering the “real change” they promised in 2015 (43 per cent.)
Still, the Liberals are doing relatively well for any government in the third year of its mandate. It won its majority in 2015 with just under 40 per cent of the popular vote, and, as Bricker noted, the Liberals are not far off now from that level of support.
That 2015 victory, though, was powered by a record-high turnout among millennials, voters aged 18 to 34.
For the first time ever, millennials will be the biggest demographic group on election day next year, eclipsing the boomers, voters who are 55 or older.
The trick for Trudeau and the Liberals will be to repeat their success of 2015 in convincing millennials to cast a ballot.
“If they do the same thing this time around, that may be enough to help him win,” Bricker said. “But the traditional pattern that we’re seeing in most places, is that they are the most unreliable voters in the electorate. So if Trudeau’s relying on them to show up, he’s really going to have to motivate them.”
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 October 5 and October 9, with a sample of 2,001 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.
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