Canada’s Mood & the Travels of Justin TrudeauMarch 20, 2016
By Bruce Anderson & David Coletto
Days before the Trudeau government releases its first budget, our latest poll finds that support for the federal government remains strong across the country. A majority approve of the federal government’s performance, the Liberals hold a 15-point lead over the Conservatives in ballot support, and a large majority of Canadians consider Mr. Trudeau’s trip to Washington to have been a success.
The results, in a nutshell, reveal:
• A steady 52% approve of the federal government performance, unchanged since November. The number of people dissatisfied has risen from 19% immediately after the election to 25% in January, and 27% this month.
• A majority in every region but Alberta approve of the government’s performance. In Alberta 38% approve and 48% disapprove.
• The Liberal government has made a positive impression with NDP voters, 55% of whom approve of the government’s performance. Among those who voted Conservative, 17% approve and 66% disapprove.
• During the election campaign Mr. Trudeau’s opponents argued that he was “not ready” for the job. We asked if after several months on the job Mr. Trudeau critics have been proven right (“that he was not ready to handle this responsibility” or if he has proven that he “is up to handling the responsibility”). By a wide margin 70% Mr. Trudeau has shown that he is up to handling the job. A majority in every region, including Alberta (53%) feel this way. Three out of four NDP voters and 35% of CPC voters say Mr. Trudeau has shown that he was ready.
• If there were an election tomorrow, the Liberal Party would win 44% of the votes, followed by the Conservative Party at 29% and the NDP 16%. These results are unchanged from our last survey and represent a gain of 4-points for the Liberals since the October election, essentially at the expense of the NDP.
• Regionally, we see gains for the Liberals in BC and in Quebec since the election. 7% of those who voted Conservative say they would vote Liberal today, while 4% of Liberal voters would go to the Liberals. 14% of those who voted NDP would shift to Liberals today, and 3% of Liberal supporters would go to the NDP.
• Mr. Trudeau’s visit to Washington DC captured some attention among 78% of Canadians, including 29% who followed it pretty closely or closely. TV news program stories were an important source for Canadians, but 41% said they followed some of the coverage live. Also worth noting is that newspaper websites were almost as important as actual newspapers. Facebook posts were a source of information for 25%. Twitter reached 6% and Instagram 3%.
• 82% considered the trip a success “from the standpoint of Canada”, while 18% said it was not very or not at all successful. The consensus that it was a success was broad in every region of the country, including 61% of Albertans, and 59% of those who voted Conservative in the last election.
• When asked specifically how they felt about the way Prime Minister Trudeau represented Canada in Washington, 73% said he did a good, very good or excellent job. Another 17% characterized it as “acceptable”. Only 10% said he did poor, very poor, or terrible in representing the country. Only 27% of Albertans, and only 26% of Conservative voters panned the PM’s efforts. A noteworthy 44% of Conservative voters and 55% of Albertans said the PM did a good job or better.
• Finally, we asked whether people felt that Mr. Trudeau’s travels since he assumed office have been “mostly a waste of time and money with too much focus on selfies and celebrity style promotion” or “adding positive visibility for Canada which will turn out to be valuable for our country in many ways. By a margin of 68% to 32% most felt that the visibility was of value for the country. This includes 54% in Alberta and larger majorities everywhere else. More than one in three Conservatives (38%) see more value than waste.
According to Bruce Anderson: “As they approach a key inflection point with their first budget, the government of Justin Trudeau continues to find fairly broad support. Clearly the Liberals’ agenda has drawn support away from the NDP, whose voters are quite well disposed towards Mr. Trudeau.
While Alberta was the weakest region for the Liberals, and this remains the case, it would be incorrect to assume that Alberta voters are broadly unhappy or resentful of the new government or of Mr. Trudeau. The results paint a much more nuanced picture than that.
While critics of the PM such as Preston Manning derided Mr. Trudeau’s visit to the US, Canadians generally saw things quite differently. The positive reactions to the DC visit are unusually strong and broad in an era where cynicism about politics can seem impossible to overcome.
So far anyway, Mr. Trudeau’s trips, selfies and all, are far from a source of dismay for most people: instead they seem to sense value in Canada’s profile being raised in a positive way.”
Our survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadians aged 18 and over from March 16 to 18, 2016. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of over 500,000 Canadians.
The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
ABACUS DATA INC.
We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD.