NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has emerged as the most likable of the federal party leaders as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s popularity sinks amid the election campaign, a new poll suggests.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found Singh was the only party leader who was viewed more positively than negatively, with 45 per cent approval versus 39 per cent disapproval among those surveyed.
Trudeau, by contrast, had the highest unfavourability rating of any leader at 53 per cent, while 41 per cent said they viewed him favourably.
“(Singh) represents the most serious challenge to Justin Trudeau and his leadership,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“Those (progressive) voters, which is the largest group of voters that we have in the Canadian electorate, they’re now dividing their loyalties between the two of them. And that’s not a situation Justin Trudeau has faced since 2015.”
The poll, which surveyed 1,500 Canadians online last weekend, suggests Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul are struggling to connect with voters — even within their own parties.
Only 28 per cent of respondents said they viewed O’Toole favourably while 48 per cent viewed him unfavourably, though 24 per cent said they don’t know the new party leader well enough to have an opinion.
Yet only 69 per cent of likely Conservative voters were favourable about O’Toole, compared to 93 per cent of Liberal voters saying the same about Trudeau and 92 per cent of NDP voters supporting Singh.
“One of the things that’s really uncommon in an election campaign is to see a political leader who’s offside with his party,” Bricker said. “So he’s in a difficult position with both his party and with the Canadian electorate.
“But the dissatisfaction level with the prime minister at the moment is making the possibility of Erin O’Toole improving those numbers very realistic.”
The poll results show Paul is in an even worse position. Although she had the highest number of respondents say they didn’t know her well enough, at 42 per cent, just 15 per cent said they viewed her favourably versus 43 per cent unfavourably. And only 54 per cent of Green voters had a positive opinion, with 22 per cent negative and 24 per cent unsure.
Bricker says Paul, who is still trying to get a seat in the House of Commons, is struggling to replicate the appeal and awareness that former leader Elizabeth May had. That, coupled with recent infighting within the party, has put more pressure on her than most of the other leaders to perform well at the upcoming debates.
“If she does a good job, you’ll probably see some of these numbers start to turn around,” Bricker said. “But right now, she’s not the asset to the party that Elizabeth May was, it’s very clear.”
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet was the only leader to see equal numbers viewing him both favourably and unfavourably, at 39 per cent of those surveyed in Quebec, while 89 per cent of likely Bloc voters saw him in a positive light.
Maxime Bernier, who leads the People’s Party of Canada, had the widest gulf between favourability and unfavourability. Just 14 per cent viewed him positively versus 52 per cent negatively.
Trudeau in trouble
Just a week ago, Trudeau was seen as the best choice for prime minister among those surveyed by Ipsos, even though a plurality of voters found him untrustworthy.
But new polling this week has shown the Liberals have lost their advantage over the Conservatives, with the two parties statistically tied in the popular vote. The NDP, meanwhile, is gaining ground and has the potential to win back at least some of the seats it lost in 2019.
The most recent survey shows Singh is outperforming Trudeau among voters aged 18 to 34 — 53 per cent of whom viewed the NDP leader favourably, versus 44 per cent for Trudeau — and those aged 35 to 54 (42 per cent versus 37 per cent). Both demographics are key to the Liberals’ success.
Bricker says that, combined with the ground gained by the Conservatives in just a week of campaigning, spells trouble for Trudeau.
“What we’re seeing at the moment is that the Liberal Party is struggling with fighting on two fronts, and it hasn’t had to really do that to the same extent as it did back in, say, 2011, as they are right now,” he said.
“Something has to be done (by the Liberals) not just to slow down Mr. O’Toole, but in particular for Justin Trudeau — given the importance of his leadership to the Liberal Party — something also has to be done to reduce the level of appeal for Mr. Singh. And what that is, is not obvious.”
O’Toole, meanwhile, will face a challenge from Blanchet in seat-rich Quebec, given Blanchet’s popularity compared to the Conservative leader. That will be particularly apparent during the French language debates, Bricker says.
“O’Toole has made some commitments about what he’s going to do for the province of Quebec,” he said. “And nobody can challenge him like a hometown hero like Mr. Blanchet. So it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with that.”
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As for Singh, Bricker says he now has plenty of momentum — particularly given that early polling at the start of the election found the NDP was a clear second choice among many undecided voters.
“He’s a credible alternative right now to Justin Trudeau,” he said. “So he’s absolutely an asset to the NDP ticket.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 20 and 23, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 1,500 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. Quotas 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 polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here: https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/