Liberal support sags as PM’s image softens. His India trip hurt.

Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson

The results of our latest survey (February 23rd to March 4th, sample of 4,023 across Canada) reveals that the Liberal Party has seen its support drop to 36%, the lowest we have measured since the election in 2015. The Conservatives are close behind with 33% followed by the NDP with 18%. Most of the slippage for the Liberals is centred in Ontario, where the Liberals and Conservatives are basically tied (39% CPC/38% LPC).

Satisfaction with the direction of the country, the performance of the government and impressions of Justin Trudeau have all declined. For the first time since before he was elected, as many people have a negative view of the Prime Minister as have a positive view.

Impressions of Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh have not really changed during this period, suggesting that the challenges the Liberals see in these numbers are largely of their own making.

Performance assessments of Mr. Trudeau suggest that his trip to India had a lot more to do with the decline in support than the recent budget. Assessments of his handling of the economy, taxpayers’ money, and debt/deficits, are little changed from October 2017. However, his rating for how he has represented Canada internationally has dropped 16 points during that same time.


According to Bruce Anderson: “With less than two years to the next election, these numbers show that the Liberals will need to work hard to earn a second mandate. Of the various mishaps and mistakes that often occur for any government, few have had much impact on feelings about the Prime Minister, until now. There seems little doubt that reactions to his India trip have a lot to do with these numbers – probably coupled with concerns that we have seen in our research about the cost of living relative to wage growth. The message to the government is about sticking to the knitting – being focused on the real life economic challenges that mainstream Canadian voters experience.

According to David Coletto:“For the first time since the 2015 election, as many Canadians have a negative impression of the Prime Minister as have a positive impression. Perceptions about this ability to represent Canada internationally are down across the board and these perceptions are strongly correlated with one’s view of Mr. Trudeau.

We don’t have the appropriate data to confirm which aspects of his trip to India may have been most harmful to his image, but it’s likely that any combination of the images and videos of his appearances, process questions about invites to certain individuals, or the perception that he may have been snubbed by Indian leaders, could have left Canadians feeling discomforted. For some, the mocking Mr. Trudeau received from media and comedians clashed with their perceptions of him, making his actions hard to defend and in conflict with the pride they felt in Canada being noticed again on the world stage. The most powerful moments in shifting impressions are those that seem indefensible.

This may be a momentary shift in opinions or it could be the start of a longer-term shift in attitudes. Either way, the trip had a negative impact on the PM’s image which is novel in the life of this government.”


The survey was conducted online with 4,023 Canadians aged 18 and over, from February 23th to March 4th, 2018. 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 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 +/- 2.2%, 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 is the only firm in Canada that helps organizations deal with the unprecedented threat of generational change and technological disruption.

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.

Related Articles