How do Canadians react to Pierre Poilievre’s campaign narrative?
April 13, 2022
Abacus Data recently completed a national survey with a sample of 2,000 Canadian adults from April 4 to 9, 2022. In that survey, we showed respondents who completed the survey in English the campaign launch video of Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre as a way to test reaction to his campaign’s central argument and message.
This is the video that was shown to respondents:
DO CANADIANS AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH WHAT HE SAID IN THE VIDEO?
Overall, half of English-speaking Canadians said they either strongly agree (23%) or agree (29%) with “what was shared in the video”. 24% disagreed (13% strongly) while 24% neither agreed nor disagreed.
Mr. Poilievre’s video was far more appealing to those who currently support the Conservative Party or the People’s Party with 79% of Conservatives and 83% of People’s Party supporters saying they agreed with what they say.
But there was also a sizeable minority of Liberal Party (36%), NDP (40%) , and Green Party (37%) supporters who also agreed with what was shared in the video.
Only about 1 in 5 Liberal and NDP supporters said they strongly disagreed with that Mr. Poilievre said in the video.
Most striking was the reaction to the video by age. Those aged 30 to 44 were the most likely to agree (59%) while those aged 60 and over were the least likely to agree (45%).
Unlike in other political behaviours or attitudes, education isn’t strongly related to reaction to the video largely because age is a greater predictor of reaction and younger Canadians, who are also more likely to have higher education levels, reacted more positively to the video.
There was also a relationship between vaccination status and agreement with the video. Those who did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine or those with one shot were the most likely to agree while those with three or more shots were the least likely to agree (and most likely to strongly disagree).
Earlier in the survey, we asked people for their overall impression of Mr. Poilievre. Among those who had an initially positive impression of him, 91% agreed with the video. Among those with a neutral view, 60% agreed, while only 20% of those who had a negative view of Mr. Poilievre agreed with the video.
DOES THE POILIEVRE CAMPAIGN MESSAGE PUSH OR PULL VOTERS?
Respondents were then asked whether they would consider or not consider voting for Mr. Poilievre if he was the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Overall, 49% said they would definitely or probably consider voting Conservative while 39% said they wouldn’t. Given that the accessible voter pool for the Conservative Party is currently at 41%, this suggests Mr. Poilievre’s message and a campaign could increase the appeal of the party.
The video did little to repel current Conservative voters (5% say they would probably not or definitely not consider voting Conservative) and could actually attract a small portion of current Liberal, NDP, and Green supporters. Most striking, 78% of those who currently support the People’s Party say they would definitely consider or probably would consider voting Conservative if Mr. Poilievre was the leader after watching the video.
The potential of Mr. Poilievre’s message to increase Conservative support among younger voters is clear from the survey. 51% of 18 to 29-year-olds and 57% of those aged 30 to 44 say they would definitely or probably consider voting Conservative.
In this same survey, the accessible Conservative vote share among those age groups is 37% and 43% respectively. This means that if successful, Poilievre could substantially increase the accessible Conservative voter pool among two demographics that have been a weakness for the Conservatives in the past three federal elections.
According to David Coletto: “Earlier this month, we shared polling data that found Pierre Poilievre has a clear advantage when it comes to both his image and support among Conservative Party supporters, a potential indicator of his support within the Conservative Party.
This test, while imperfect and limited, demonstrates that Mr. Poilievre’s broader message and argument may not be as offensive or unappealing to the general public as some may have assumed. In fact, his arguments about the housing market and taking back control of one’s life resonates the most with younger Canadians – a demographic that the Conservatives have struggled to connect with in the past.
However, one flag in the research is the more negative reaction older Canadians have to his message. So on the one hand Mr. Poilievre may grow the Conservative universe among younger Canadians, but he could also risk support among more reliable older voters. His message is likely unlike anything Canadians have heard before and his leadership of the Conservative Party has the potential to realign Canadian politics. For those who say Mr. Polievre can’t win a general election, these results, at least, for now, suggest otherwise.”
And check out this recent piece I wrote about some core audiences in Canada that I think you’ll find interesting. To better understand Mr. Poilievre’s appeal, I think this should be required reading.”
The survey was conducted with 2,000 Canadian adults from April 4 to 9, 2022. 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 +/- 2.1% 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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