Is Kevin O’Leary the Winner Conservatives Are Looking For?

Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson

Last week, we surveyed several thousand Canadians and asked them questions about some of the prominent names in the Conservative leadership race (O’Leary, Bernier, Raitt, Leitch, and Scheer).  We also explored for perceptions of some of the names that come up most often in discussions about the NDP leadership.

Here’s what we found:


‌• Among the Conservative candidates we tested, O’Leary has the largest number of positive impressions at 18%, ahead of Bernier (12%), Raitt (10%) Leitch (6%) and Scheer (5%).

‌• However, O’Leary also has, by a wide margin, the highest negatives at 41%. Leitch has the second highest negatives (21%), followed by Bernier (14%), Raitt (10%) and Scheer (5%)

‌• Perhaps the most important thing in this wave of data is the shift in views of O’Leary. Since our survey in December, his negatives jumped by a remarkable 19 points. Leitch’s negatives rose by 4 points during the same period. The other three saw their negatives drop a bit or hold steady.

Among Conservative voters, here’s what the numbers show:

‌• O’Leary’s positives rose by 5 points but his negatives rose by 12. Today 40% of Conservatives like him and 26% don’t.

‌• Leitch trails Bernier and Raitt in terms of positive opinions, although her positives rose by 4 points since December. Her negatives also rose by 4 points.  Today 14% of Conservative voters have a positive view of her, and 19% have a negative view.

‌• Lisa Raitt has the best ratio of positive to negative opinions, with 3 positive views for every negative one.

‌• Andrew Scheer struggles with the lowest profile of the candidates we tested in this round of surveying. Two-thirds of Canadians and even two-thirds of Conservative voters don’t know who he is, and most of those who do say their view of him is “neutral’.


‌• The names we tested were Jagmeet Singh, Peter Julian, Nathan Cullen, Guy Caron, and Charlie Angus.

‌• The majority of those surveyed did not have an opinion of any of these individuals. Two-thirds of NDP voters said they didn’t have a view.

‌• Jagmeet Singh has slightly higher positives (10%) and negatives (9%) compared to the other names tested. The differences among the others tested were all within the margin of error of the survey.

‌• Among NDP voters, the range of positive opinion is 4% for Peter Julian and 11% for Jagmeet Singh. The range of negatives is even narrower, between 3% and 6%.


According to Bruce Anderson:

“The Conservative race is heading into a critical period of reflection for party members.

While Kevin O’Leary clearly offers the advantage of a high-profile, with only 18% positive opinion (Rona Ambrose is at 23%) and a striking 41% negative opinion among the public, if Conservative Party members were to choose him they would be betting that he would become a lot better at making a case for himself as a future Prime Minister.

Along the same lines, it may be the case that Kellie Leitch has found resonance with a subset of Conservative voters, but she is gaining no ground among Canadians in general – losing it in fact.  Among Conservative voters, she’s hardly surging in popularity, per our numbers.

Given the way that Conservatives will choose leaders, it’s impossible to say how reflective Conservative voters are of those party members who will ultimately cast a ballot.  But if those who cast a ballot are listening to their friends and neighbors, what they are hearing about Leitch and O’Leary may give them pause about supporting those two high-profile candidates.

In our next survey on this subject, we will explore for second choice support, which may become the most important way to evaluate this race in its final couple of months.

For the NDP, the numbers show that the race is wide open – none of the names we tested have a deep well of positive feelings to draw upon, but neither do they start with any notable level of resistance.”

According to David Coletto:

“As the Conservative leadership race enters the final month to sign up new members, Kevin O’Leary is clearly the most well known of the major candidates.  His formal entry into the race has not endeared him to Canadians.  In fact, negative impressions of Mr. O’Leary have almost doubled with the general public and among those who voted Conservative in the last federal election.  While the other candidates remain largely unknown to most Canadians, Mr. O’Leary is known and most of those who know of him have a negative impression of him.

For the NDP, the party’s leadership race is only now beginning with the entry of BC MP Peter Julian.  Our data finds that none of the possible leadership candidates have much profile, even among those who voted NDP.  We will continue to track these numbers as the election gears up.”


Our survey was conducted online with 4,173 Canadians aged 18 and over from February 10 to 16, 2017. 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 4,173 is +/- 1.6%, 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.


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, Ph.D.

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