Abacus Data Poll: Big Conservative Lead Stablizes as Evaluations of Trudeau Government Performance Drop

From February 29 to March 6, 2024, Abacus Data conducted a national survey of 1,500 adults exploring several topics related to Canadian politics and current events as part of our regular national omnibus surveys.

In this edition of our Canadian politics tracking, we report on our usual metrics along with some updated data comparing perceptions of the Trudeau government’s performance in areas such as housing, healthcare, managing the economy, and managing government finances.

Conservatives lead by 18 over the Liberals. It’s been 658 straight days that the Conservatives have led the Liberals in Abacus Data polling.

If an election were held today, 42% of committed voters would vote Conservatives with the Liberals at 24%, the NDP at 18% and the Greens at 4%. The BQ is at 34% in Quebec.

Since our last survey, the Conservatives are up 1, the Liberals are unchanged, and the NDP is down 1. Since the beginning of the year, we have seen stability in vote intentions with the Conservatives consistently in the low 40s and the Liberals stuck in the low to mid 20s.

Regionally, the Conservatives are well ahead in the Prairies, lead by 22 in BC, and 13 in Ontario. In Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives are 15-points ahead of the Liberals while in Quebec, the BQ leads by 8 over the Liberals with the Conservatives just two points back and statistically tied with the Liberals for second.

If we isolate British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada only, we find the Conservatives holding at 43%, the Liberals up 1 to 27%.

Demographically, the Conservatives lead among all age groups with the Liberal vote share correlated with age. The Liberal vote share rises as the age of the respondent increases. The opposite is true for the NDP. For a deeper analysis of how millennials have shifted their preferences over the past 8 years, see my substack here. And tune into (and subscribe!) Eric Grenier’s podcast later this week as we deep dive Canadian polling trends and breakouts by demographic, regional, and political groups.

The Conservatives continue to capture a larger share of the vote among both men and women. Liberal vote share is the same among men and women while the NDP does 9-points better among women than it does among men. For a deep dive on the differences between men and women, check out this analysis by my colleague Oksana Kishchuk released on Friday.

When we ask people if they would consider voting for each of the main political parties, 50% say they are open to voting Conservative (down 2 since earlier this month) while, 39% are open to voting NDP (down 1), and 39% are open to voting Liberal (unchanged) and the lowest we have measured for the Liberals since they were elected in 2015.

We continue to measure voter motivation by political party.

We find that Conservative supporters are more likely to say they would vote than Liberal or NDP supporters. Enthusiasm for voting NDP is down 5 from last month while Liberal enthusiasim is up slightly by 3 points.

What else are Canadians thinking?

The mood of the country hasn’t changed since earlier this month and has been fairly consistent since the start of the year. Today, only 1 in 4 think Canada is headed in the right direction and only 15% feel optimistic about the direction of the world as a whole. This mood continues to be very sour.

The federal government’s approval rating is improved slightly from last month at 26%, up 2. 58% disapprove of the job performance of the federal govenrment led by Justin Trudeau, down a single point and within the margin of error.

Impressions of Justin Trudeau have improved marginally. 58% have a negative impression of the Prime Minister and 25% have a positive view for a net score of -33.

In contrast, impressions of Pierre Poilievre are also largely unchanged with 38% viewing him positively and 34% negatively for a net score of +4. Any attempts by the Liberals to shift perceptions about Poilievre have yet to bare any fruit.

Feelings about NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are also largely unchanged. Today 35% have a negative impression compared with 33% who have a positive one for a net score of -2.

15% of Canadian adults believe Justin Trudeau and the Liberals deserve to be re-elected, unchanged from last month while those who think it’s time for a change and feel there’s an acceptable alternative is back up to 54%, the high point in our tracking. We will continue to monitor this perception as it may be a leading indicator for vote intention.

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The view that the Conservatives will win the next election continues to grow. Today, 47% think the Conservatives will win the next election (up 2 since last wave) and up 8 points since October 2023. 19% think the Liberals will win, while 8% think the NDP will win. 1 in 4 Canadians are unsure or say another party will win.

Finally, in this survey we reasked questions we asked in March 2023 evaluating how Canadians feel about the Trudeau government’s performance in some specific policy areas.

The results reveal several things.

First, negative impressions are up right across the board, increasing from 6 to 9 points. This reflects the movement we’ve seen in government approval since last spring.

Areas where the Trudeau government get relatively better evaluations are in its handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (51% positive or acceptable), dealing with the provinces (44% positive or acceptable) and running an ethical government (40% positive or acceptable).

But it gets low scores for its handling of housing (23%), dealing with the rising cost of living (26%), and managing government finances (33%). When it comes to managing the economy, 35% think the federal government has done a good or acceptable job while 61% describe it as negative with an 8-point rise in negative impressions.

The Upshot

According to Abacus Data CEO David Coletto: “Public opinion about Canadians politics is firmly in a new normal with an unpopular Prime Minister, a poor performing federal government, and a relatively popular leader of the opposition. Since last spring, perceptions of the government’s performance in several policy areas have all become markedly negative – especially in areas where the government has tried to put a great focus including housing, inflation, and the economy.

It really does feel like the Trudeau government is pushing against a thick, tall wall where nothing it does is seen positively by its detractors. Whether it is closed minds or distraction, Canadians are not being persuaded that Mr. Trudeau or his government are effectively managing the anxieties in their life. This might change if micro- and macro-economic conditions improve, but as my colleague Eddie Sheppard will report later this week, expectations for the rest of 2024 are not great. Low expectations are easier to meet and exceed, but it means that the public remains deeply skeptical, anxious, and in the Prime Minister’s own words, “grumpy”.”

Looking to conduct polling or market research in 2024? Have budget left to spend before the end of March? Send Yvonne an email to connect with the Abacus Data team today!


The survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults from February 28 to March 6,, 2024. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.5%, 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.

This survey was paid for by Abacus Data Inc.

Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here:  https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/


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