Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trudeau Leads for Best PM Now, but A Storm is Coming...

I am starting to understand the Conservative's current fixation on Justin Trudeau, as Harris-Decima's new poll on the federal leaders is showing the young Trudeau not only competing well with Harper (if not outright beating him in several key aspects), but completely trashing Thomas Mulcair like some sort of wonderful sideshow attraction.

This poll is actually pretty big, so I'll only focus on a few things and for the rest you can check it out yourself. But first up, here's the Best Prime Minister numbers:

The race for Best PM is pretty tight according to this poll, but Trudeau has managed to edge out Harper, 33% to 31%. That is an excellent start and, given some of the other things in this poll, something of a feat to pull off, but we'll get into that in a second.

Trudeau leads for Best PM in BC (34%) and Atlantic Canada (42%), and is tied with Harper in Ontario (36%). He comes second to Harper in Alberta and Saskitoba, and second to Mulcair in Quebec (37% to 34%). Trudeau also leads among the 18-34 and 50+ demographic, as well as among female respondents, those with income under $60K and above $100K, and of course leads among Liberals.

Actually, take a closer look at those party numbers. While Harper dominates among Conservative respondents with 85%, Trudeau comes second with 68% among Liberal respondents; Mulcair sits at only 52% among NDP respondents! I believe I found this same correlation somewhere before, probably in an EKOS poll, where Mulcair is clearly not the inspiring leader NDPers would love us to believe he is, not even among their own supporters. And while 68% isn't the greatest number ever either, the fact is that we just got our new leader - the NDP have had theirs for a year now, and he still isn't delivering the goods.

Moving on, here's why Trudeau shouldn't necessarily be leading in Best PM numbers right now:

Oy. This, in conjunction with HD's numbers in who has the best experience to be PM (Trudeau sits at 19%, tied with Mulcair but far behind Harper), should tell you that Liberals are going to have to work their asses off to ensure Trudeau stays popular. It would be very easy to start painting Trudeau as an economic illiterate, or as the Conservative ads have put it, "in over his head." The fact is that Canadians are more apt to believe Harper can walk the talk he does on economic issues, simply by virtue of the experiences of the economy over the past few years. We are doing pretty well, Harper hasn't done anything major to cause a crash in the system; Liberals are going to have to go to the people and sell Trudeau, and there is only so far "positive politics" will get you. We need to show that either Harper isn't all he is cracked up to be, or Trudeau is no lightweight himself.

The good news on that front is that Mulcair, whose narrative so far has focused on the economy, jobs, etc., clearly doesn't have anyone's attention. His biggest support comes from Quebec and BC, where people keep on drinking Orange Crush despite signs that its patently unhealthy for you.

As I mentioned, there are some other tidbits in there so give them a look. So far, people are willing to give Trudeau the benefit of the doubt and seem to like this fresh new face. But it won't last forever, and there are clear areas where we have a deficit even from the outset. Once the honeymoon period ends, our answer on the economy and on experience will matter even more as defining issues.

In other words, the roller coaster is currently at its first peak, it will be downhill from here. Whether we survive to the next one will be up to Trudeau and Liberals everywhere to work towards.


  1. Interesting poll. Did not see voting intention question though. I am curious to see how the air war is going to shake out over the next few weeks. The economic issues advantages for Harper are going to be subject to exogenous events (economic performance). I am guessing, purely speculative you know, but that honking big defecit is pretty dangerous for him. Employment numbers too.

    1. HD didn't provide them, unfortunately, but you can roughly correlate the Best PM numbers to voting intentions in every province except possibly Quebec, since the Bloc aren't represented.

      I agree that the deficit and unemployment will be stains on Harper's record, but they were last time as well. The problem is that the message that Harper essentially coasts has yet to really filter through. Our goal must be that by 2015, that message will saturate the airwaves - Harper doesn't do diddly-squat except misspend your money, so on and so forth.

    2. It would be cheaper to saturate the inboxes of dedicated CPC fiscal hawks than saturating the airwaves, lol. One of the beauties of micro-targeting. Scalpel-like precision in message delivery, effecively zero cost. Match that with precision in hitting pro-lifers inboxes ( Harper will NEVER restrict abortions, so why not take another look at the Christian Heritage...), and you cut off the CPC's donations at the source, and an appreciable fraction of their voters sit the next election out. And it all happens under the radar, so less worries about spoiling Trudeau's 'positive politics' meme. Gotta build those mailing lists up!

  2. I keep hearing how trudeau will win over Quebec using love and optimism, but from this poll and others show that Mulcair is if not love, respected in quebec. I think that Mulcair may end up following in the footsteps of Gilles Duceppe who followed Bouchard, "another man with a cane" while gilles duceppe wasn't as carismatic he is respected in quebec and perceived as defending quebec's interests in canada to many quebecois

    1. Thats entirely possible, Graeme. In fact its slightly more probable than a complete collapse of the NDP in Quebec, which is what we're hoping for; however, Mulcair needs to endear himself more among Quebecois than he has so far. Yes, he's up there sticking his neck out for Quebec or whatever, but its only been a year since he has head attention really paid towards him. Duceppe wasn't that popular until the 2004 election.