Thursday, April 17, 2014

Trudeau: One Year Later

Justin Trudeau has been leader of the Liberal Party for one year now. I wrote about the effect he had on the polls for The Globe and Mail earlier this week. I suggest you check it out if you have a subscription, as I go into the regional details there. Here, this is just a brief look at how the polls have broken down for the last two years.

I also suggest you consider checking out Tapping into the Pulse, my ebook on polling from 2013. It covers the last months of the Liberal leadership race and the first eight months with Trudeau at the helm of the party. The book also covers the wider federal scene, as well as each province individually. You can order it here from Gumroad, Amazon, and Kobo.

For those who want another trip down memory lane, I looked at the polls one year after Thomas Mulcair became leader of the New Democrats for The Hill Times here.

The chart below shows federal support in polls conducted one year since and one year before Trudeau became the Liberal leader. I've used a five-poll rolling average to smooth out the lines as much as possible. I've also added a linear trendline (the dotted, darker lines) to give an idea of how things have moved over the last 24 months.

The graph paints a pretty clear picture of the influence Trudeau has had on federal politics. The trendlines for both the Conservatives and New Democrats are negative, though both parties have more or less held steady for the last few months.

Stretching the chart back to April 2012 also allows us to take a look at Mulcair's honeymoon, when the NDP was polling in a tied or ahead of the Conservatives. It also lets us look at where his numbers have gone after two years as leader.

In late 2012, the Liberals were making gains as the leadership campaign rolled on, but you can see that in the months before Trudeau's victory became inevitable the polls were all over the map. This was, in part, because some voters' intentions included Trudeau as leader and others didn't. And Trudeau's quality as a potential leader was still murky at the time.

Since his victory the polls have been less varied, particularly over the last few months. You can see that since the beginning of 2014 the support levels of the three major parties have been relatively tight. Are the numbers stabilizing?

The chart also starkly shows how the Conservatives have not held a clear lead in the polls since over a year ago, and are trailing by a larger margin than they did when the New Democrats were doing so well in the spring and early summer of 2012. Never in the minority years of 2006 to 2011 did the Conservatives trail by such a large margin for such a long time. That the New Democrats have been solidly in third for the last year masks the fact that they have also been solidly over 20% - a level of support that was their ceiling prior to the 2011 breakthrough. Mulcair says it often, and he is right: the party's old ceiling is now their floor.

But the Liberals may be near their ceiling, particularly in this three-way race era. Only a couple of times has the party done better than 40%, the level of support they probably need to be comfortably in majority territory.

So that is the last 24 months in polls. Only 18 months remain before the next election is scheduled to take place. What will this chart look like by then?


  1. Justin Trudeau is popular because he comes with an established name brand.

    I have friends and family members, who don't really follow politics closely, but vote. They see it as Stephen Harper vs Justin Trudeau in the next election.

    Traditionally, it has been Liberal vs Conservative. I'm sure many people forgot the Liberals are a 3rd party rump in the House of Commons.

    They see the Harper government getting into too much trouble, Justin Trudeau is the alternative. They may recognize Thomas Mulcair as the beareded NDP guy, but won't recall his name.

    These so called "gaffes" Trudeau made are nothing. I doubt much of it will stick come election time.

    I could see the CPC and NDP support increase come election time. Voters may like the Liberal leader and want him to become PM, but they may not want to toss out their incumbent MP, whose been doing good things according to pamphlets and the local paper.

    1. At the moment people are parking their vote. In the hustle and bustle of a campaign gaffes can become deadly. If Trudeau does not hold up to the scrutiny of the campaign the Liberal polling numbers will plummet and the Tories will be the beneficiary. Unfortunately for Mulcair Canadians have already passed judgement and they'd rather have Trudeau as the alternative to Harper.

      For what it is worth I think Harper gave a very good eulogy on Wednesday. I do not know if it will win him votes buy it made the PM look more human which probably helps.

    2. Wasn't it the kitty that was supposed to make him look human? I think we're past that point, now...

    3. Why are Dippers always so negative chirumenga?

      Somebody makes a moving and personal eulogy and all you can do is criticise?

      This is why the NDP will never form government again provincially or federally in Canada; the NDP is against many things but, for nothing!

    4. The point was straight forward. Harper's been around for too long to be able to convince anyone of his humanity at this stage.

    5. chirumenga,

      Your comments come across as mean spirited-that is the point! Your comment above is written so as to deny Mr. Harper his humanity.

      Are Nerw democrats only capable of leveling personal attacks?

    6. While I hardly think it's a great tragedy or outrage to deny that Harper has any sense of human connection, that's not what I said. I was referring to the perception of his humanity, and noting that anyone who wasn't convinced by the kitten that he is humane, would not - at this late date - come round to the idea now. Is there anyone out there who wouldn't expect Harper to deliver a passable eulogy for a longtime colleague and friend?

      As for the NDP references. I only support the party in the absence of something more groundbreaking, so you can't really have me stand for them. Regrdless, it's disingenuous to claim that the NDP hasn't put forth positive policies and proposals or that they are only about negativity. No one here actua

    7. chirumenga you have done it again therefore The answer is "Yes". Once again you hurl insults and deny Harper's humanity.

      "While I hardly think it's a great tragedy or outrage to deny that Harper has any sense of human connection"

      I find writing like this rather disgusting. It is reminiscent of how tyrants describe their enemies. For a party that portrays itself as the compassionate conscience of Canada it certainly demonstrates their inconsistency and double standard!

    8. I don't speak for the NDP, so get over it. And if you think my comment about Harper is a terrible insult, you must have very thin skin. But I'll say this, if Harper had a meaningful connection with humanity, then he wouldn't implement the bulk of the policies he has. His priorities are not humane. And that's not an insult, that's a straightforward observation.

    9. chirumenga,

      Insults are the last refuge of the out argued.

      If you can not produce commentary without insults it does not say much about your writing skills. Nor does it say much about the NDP who without meaningful or well thought out policy use their minions to insult others instead of engage in polite debate.

      It amazes me that you continue to call Harper less than human. Publish some of your hateful comments under your real name! At least if you do so those you insult have recourse to the Courts.

      So increasing employment in Canada is not humane? Sending soldiers to stabilise a war-ravaged Afghanistan is not human? Cutting the GST thereby giving the poorest Canadians a small tax break is not humane? What is not humane chirumenga is denying another person's humanity!

    10. You've been in a particularly argumentative mood, it seems. I have no need to reply any further when you insist on putting words in my mouth and misrepresenting me.

    11. One has no business in politics whether as a politicians or commentator if they disrespect others' points of view or deny them either their humanity or right to disagree.

      Frankly, your writing regarding Mr. Harper is beyond the Pale. I would hope in the future you will treat your opponents with a greater deal of respect even if you disagree with their politics.

  2. I'll take a run at the last question.

    It will come down to the next campaign. I think that in Quebec and Ontario, voters are willing to vote for whoever can turf Harper, and if it looks like it will be Trudeau or Mulcair, so be it.

    I think if it's Mulcair, that might spook enough small-c conservative voters (as opposed to big-C Conservatives) to go over to the Liberals to stop it and cause a complete Conservative meltdown. You'll see the Liberals as Official opposition

    If it's Trudeau, I think the Conservative vote will stay intact and the NDP vote will wither to third party status.

    The question will be if these shifts will be large enough to produce a majority.

    1. I find it difficult to imagine a scenario where the Conservatives end up in third place. There are about 100 seats in the West and Ontario that will go Conservative no matter what.

      The Conservatives are sitting on a lot of cash. They play dirty too. This should be enough for them to defend their core base.

      The only one possibility I see if the seat count is split almost evenly in 3 ways and all three parties get around 100-120 seats. This could happen if the NDP hold most of the seats they have now, plus they expand in BC, Saskatchewan and Southwestern Ontario. The Conservatives hold to their rural base in the West and Ontario. While the Liberals make gains primarily at the expensive of Conservatives in Atlantic Canada, suburban Ontario, the Greater Vancouver Area and Winnipeg.

    2. What I think is a reasonable and logical vision is a minority govt with the Liberals having more seats than the CPC with the NDP drastically reduced.

      It is probable that the NDP will have enough seats to support the Liberals into majority territory on most bills and would abstain on anything that the Harper Cons want and look like winning . I suspect Que will move back to the Trudeau name and thus the Libs approach majority. If the Harper Cons manage to fubar much more then this view will change to their detriment !!

  3. Given the party polls as distinct from the leader polls we've seen in the past few months we're looking right now at a Liberal resurgence and a CPC collapse. That's also not counting the mounting troubles within the CPC between the extreme right and the progressive right. We won't get a clear answer until the actual vote.

  4. Michael den Tandt story in today's (Saturdays) National Post brings out the fact that the CPC actually has less than 30% solid support and apparently even that is starting to show signs of slippage.

    Anybody for a Liberal majority ??

    1. Not unless the Liberals can knock the NDP into the mid-teens. Otherwise the NDP/Liberal "vote split" will likely deny a majority.

    2. I believe we will see the Liberals win a minority (and plurality) in 2015.

      I think Mulcair will probably do better than Trudeau in Quebec, despite gains from the latter.

      Even in Ontario, I don't see the Liberals winning a majority of the seats. The NDP is holding steady. They may lose some seats, but they have the ability to win some seats too. The Tories also have many entrenched incumbents that may be able to hold on with a narrow margin.

      I think the Whitby-Oshawa and Trinity-Spadina by elections will be a test for the Liberal strength in Ontario. The Liberals lost both seats in 2006 when they lost power.

    3. bede does it really matter?? As long as the Cons no longer rule a Lib-NDP arrangement or a Lib majority will yield the same thing. Good Govt !!

    4. Peter,

      I've said it before and I will repeat myself. The Liberals or NDP will walk into political suicide if they cooperate with one another. If the Liberals must depend on the NDP then they give away the title as "Canada's natural governing party". If the NDP co-habitate with the Liberals they no longer are able to call themselves the party of the working man-they become the establishment.

      Do not expect a coalition, co-habitation, or any other Liberal-NDP arrangement should the Tories win a plurality of seats in 2015. it is in neither party's interest which is why with the exception of Saskatchewan and Ontario it has never happened.

      As for good government I would not look to either the Liberals or NDP to provide it. The sponsorhip scandal, siphoning off EI premiums to manufacture surpluses, over taxing Canadians, giving away Canada's interest in the oil sands to Alberta and Saskatchewan, introducing an unamendable constitution, provoking Quebec separatism with a constitution meant to quell such thoughts, all these are the results of poor Liberal governing. As for the NDP their ineptitude at governing is well known from Fudgit budgets to Rae days.

    5. Yeah, that doomed stench of appeasement sure crushed the Liberals and NDP in 1974, didn't it? Oh, one party did suffer severe burns there, and the other one took its win too literally, but i dont think a minority gov't will be shunned by the plurality -- by that time the Burgermeister-Meisterburger's clothes will be tattered and worn, and all the kids will be enjoying life again!

    6. Rockfish,

      You do realise the Conservatives won the next election right?

    7. Rockfish,

      You have used the term "appeasement" incorrectly.

      Secondly, the NDP lost half their caucus in the 1974 election.


    8. Bede Dunelm,

      I have not allowed your comment that you have tried to post again and again in reply to the one by Rockfish because you have made an error and I don't want to have to post your comment to correct you.

      Burgermeister Meisterburger is a reference to the character in Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and nothing more sinister. I suggest you look at the following Wikipedia page:

    9. That character symbolises German military aggression in the 20th century.

    10. Rockfish's statement that "by that time the Burgermeister-Meisterburger's clothes will be tattered and worn, and all the kids will be enjoying life again" makes it clear he was referring to the story in the children's TV show.

      No more on this.

  5. Haroon Siddiqui in today's (Sunday) Toronto Star has a really interesting piece which shows the parallels between Marois's collapse and Harper's slow fall. Worth the read.

  6. Ah, but there are certain issues that are going to force voters to decide. Take the Keystone XL and other pipelines. Anyone against further pipeline construction, or tar sands development won't be able to vote Conservative or Liberal.

    There are a bunch of other 'Key' issues, and the big question is how will these play out?

    Take the Long Gun Registry. It cost the Liberals a lot of votes. Now it is out of play, a lot of those votes will come back.

    What Key issues will arise between now and the election that we haven't spotted yet?

    This could be a really exciting election.


    1. From what I've seen in a variety of US media Keystone is dead. Everybody get used to it.

      Same applies to Northern Gateway I think after the Kitimat vote !!

    2. Keystone is dead, Northern Gateway is dead, Alberta is seriously ill!

    3. Northern gateway continues to be a pot on the stove, although Harper is standing as far back from the power switch as humanly, or chickenly, possible. Have to laugh when he continues to toss bon mots at Obama for letting politics interfere with the wants of Big Oil... since he doesnt have the political balls to do his own dirty work here. Maybe he can take another trip to Switzerland and tell the press there where he stands (ala pension reforms)...

    4. That's too bad Peter. Trudeau supports Keystone XL.

    5. Rockfish,

      As someone who works with the Aboriginal community in BC let me assure you Northern Gateway has 0% support.

      The good people of Kitimat have rejected Northern Gateway in a referendum and the Haisla nation, whose territory the pipeline must cross are strongly opposed.

      The courts have been clear; Aboriginal consultation must be meaningful and Aboriginal title is a form of ownership. If the Haisla were the only First Nation impacted a new route may be possible but, Keystone must cross 49 First Nations most if not all of whom have no interest in the pipeline except as a means to demonstrate their Aboriginal title and sovereignty.

      At the moment the application is before the National Energy Board. Why you want political interference in this regulatory process is beyond me but, you insults against Mr. Harper only demonstrate your lack of knowledge in this realm and demonstrate the pettiness of the left in this country, who, unable to develop policy British Columbians support produce ad hominem attacks ad nauseum.

    6. Everyone except Barack Obama supports Keystone XL. A bunch of Democrat Senators recently sent him a letter asking him to approve Keystone.

      Northern Gateway will be tougher to get done, but the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline shouldn't be easy, and the reversal of the eastern link to Ontario is a complete no-brainer. There's no reason for anyone to oppose that.

    7. Daniel - Why would anyone want Alberta to be ill? And why would anyone think it was true? Look at their GDP per capita. Alberta continues to generate vastly more wealth than the other provinces do.

      I am moving to Alberta next month. The money there is staggering.

    8. Ira,

      I do not wish illness or poverty or plague upon Alberta.You have misconstrued my comments, I say without those two projects Alberta (economy) is ill. How will they export oil without them?

      The fact is 90% of Alberta's economy is based on oil sands without the ability to export this resource there is no economy!

      Alberta has failed to diversify its economy and failed to save money. At $100 per barrel Alberta still runs a deficit. Fracking has increased oil reserves dramatically for Alberta's biggest market-America. In a year or two the USA may no longer need to import Alberta crude.

      I strongly recommend against moving to Alberta. The weather is awful unless you like 6 months of Winter. I really do not have anything good to say about the people especially when behind the wheel and the quality of life one can expect is significantly lower than other places in Canada. Food and rent are less expensive in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. fresh vegetables and fruit are particularly problematic and of poor quality.

      Then there are the moral questions; is it right Alberta extracts a resource through the depletion of scarce water in the Province? Is it morally acceptable to mine bitumen causing a host of environmental pollutants? Is it right these things occur when the owner HMTQ in Right of Alberta do so without setting aside adequate resources for remediation of the environmental impacts?

      If one must go it is infinitely better to live in Calgary than Edmonton. Much nicer city, better weather, much more to see and do and cheaper flights to get out of there!

    9. The elephant in the room is that the refineries fed by Keystone are owned by the Koch brothers. So approval of Keystone means more money donated to Republicans to defeat Democrats. Meanwhile our economy is held hostage.

    10. And Warren Buffet who endorses Obama and hosted several fundraisers for him got a presidential medal of freedom.... makes millions moving oil on railcars and so opposes the pipeline. ... more money donated to democrats to defeat Republicans.

      The oil is getting to those refinery's anyway. Koch's don't care if it gets built.

      If you are going to run around screaming about evil conservative capitalist boogeymen you could atleast understand the subject material instead of just spewing fear and smear talking points.

  7. I'm pretty much resigned to the likely reality of having young Trudeau as PM someday. I hope that he matures into the job quickly, for the sake of my country. I fear he may not be ready yet, and hope it can be postponed a few years, for the man to gain some seasoning.

  8. The NDP's ceiling is now it's floor and Mulcair is right about that. The main reason the NDP has been able to stay well above 20% is because of its support in Quebec. As long as it stays 1st or 2nd there, that level of support in the 2nd-biggest province will serve it well in the national numbers.

    The downside for the NDP is that it means they would not grow from the level of support they had under Layton. So the polls also mask the fact that once you take Quebec out of the picture, the NDP is less competitive in the rest of the country.

    1. What the NDP national numbers conceal is not simply they are losing competitiveness in the RoC but, they are down significantly from the last election in the West (with the exception of BC where they are even) and Atlantic Canada. T this point they will only lose 10 seats or so but, the numbers deny the NDP any chance of forming government and hence the cache of being a "national party". If the next election is viewed as a fight between Trudeau and Harper the NDP will be the loser and I suspect they will dipped below their "floor".


    2. Ah, but they are set to gain ten seats too.

      The problem is that the polls aren't able to pick out the patterns for individual ridings. Yes, there are ten ridings going Orange next election. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have a hope in them.

      There are also ridings going Liberal. The NDP has no hope in them.

      And there may be a riding or two going Green, and possibly a couple going Conservative.

      While there are National Trends, there are also individual riding trends, and those tend to be more important in the long run.


    3. Wayne,

      With all due respect the NDP is set to lose seats. At present the NDP is not set to gain seats in any province with the exception of maybe BC (after the last BC election I think one needs to take NDP numbers with a grain of salt. My feeling is a lot of NDP supporters in BC do not turn up to vote but are captured by polling firms).

  9. Lawrence Martin has an excellent piece in today's Globe and Mail about why the Cons can't beat Trudeau !

  10. And then the tide shifts AR poll has the Cons 34 Libs 27 and NDP at 27.

    A poll like that , at this point in time, before the Cons balance the budget points to a Cons Majority and the Liberals close to extinction.

    The Liberals gambled huge on Trudeau and other than a few short-term gains in the 2 year out polls will pay dearly for that mistake.

    I don't know if Martha Ann Findlay will be able to re-build the Liberal party but it would have made more sense to have her on the job now rather than in 2016

    1. Angus Reed had those numbers? I must say I'm a bit surprised. They have been the best pollster at the federal level for years.

      Much as I wouldn't mind the extinction of the LPC I very much doubt Trudeau will lead them to a worse result than the last election.

      He may not be the savior they think he is, but he certainly has given them some enthusiasm. Much more than MHF or Garneau would have been able to generate.

      We will see how Canadians react if JT gaffes his way through a campaign, but for the moment they seem OK with putting him in the PMs chair. It's kinda depressing IMO.

    2. Martha Hall Findlay as the leader of the Liberals? That's a good joke. Findlay is a weak politician, and a small-C Conservative that will cause left-leaning Liberals to go to the NDP.

      Like him or not, Trudeau brought in millions into the Liberal Party. Something his predecessors couldn't. The Liberal Party is in better shape now then it has been in a decade.

      The Angus Reid poll, is likely a result of good press the Conservatives are getting after the death of the likeable and competent Jim Flaherty. Remember the NDP was polling at 33% after the death of Jack Layton, only to plummet months later.

    3. Angus Reid's numbers aren't quite that dramatic. BCVoR is quoting their "likely voter" numbers, rather than their "eligible voter" numbers.

      Without the likelihood adjustment, AR reports:

      CPC: 32
      LPC: 30
      NDP: 26

      Still a very strong poll for the Tories, but not so different from other recent polls as to be shocking.

      AR also reports that 56% of Canadians say it's time for a change in government, which is actually lower than I expected.

    4. BCVoR doesn't even relay the likely voter numbers faithfully. They're actually 34 CPC 29 LPC 27 NDP.

      We'll see if this trend persists or not.

  11. Canadians like to claim that we value substance over style politically. Why then does Trudeau generate so much excitement?

    I think the truth is that while we like to laugh at the Americans for voting in a man much less intelligent than his father, based on little more than a last name, we still seemed poised to do the same thing.

    Electing people based on family name recognition is best left to countries like India and Italy. I certainly don't want to see it here.

  12. We may be starting to see an erosion of Trudeau's support. Today's Angus Reid poll is showing the Conservatives ahead with the Liberals barely beating out the NDP.

    AR, Nanos and Ekos have recentlt found similar numbers indicating a softening of support for both Trudeau and his party.

    Tom Mulcair has emerged in the AR poll as the most popular leader with his numbers growing while Trudeau's are falling His approval is 46 to 35, Trudeau's is barely even - 45 to 44.

    Quebec is emerging as a major problem for the Liberals . AR shows the NDP with a growing lead. Mulcair is favoured over Trudeau as best PM by 30 to 16.

    EKOS recently had similar results and also showed the NDP and Mulcair were favoured by Bloq voters b ya ratio of 5 to 1 . Given that the Bloq is still polling about 1/5th of the vote this may result in a windfall for the NDP if the Quebec vote polarizes.

    Quebec will likely decide which of the NDP or the Liberals comes ahead in the next election. The cards are starting to line up in the NDP's favour.

    Trudeau's support throughout the country is slowly declining. Mulcair's is slowly rising. I suspect Mulcair's support is more solid because he has earned it. Trudeau's is softer because it is largely based on name recognition.

    1. Well CPC 32 LPC 30 NDP 26 is still pretty bad news for the governing party. Any CPC lead which does not yield a majority for them is not a good result. There is no way the NDP, LPC, BQ or GPC would want to be seen propping up a government which is widely loathed by their base. (And all Canadians except staunch CPC partisans).

      I agree with your point that the cards in Quebec are lining up in favour with the NDP. Mulcair has somewhat positioned himself as the defender of Quebec. He took risky policy positions that would risk party support in the RoC, just to curry favour in Quebec. The NDP has been playing their cards right in the provinces. They may some seats to the Liberals, but I could see them holding 40+ seats.

      I feel Trudeau can win a minority (and plurality) in 2015, despite Mulcair winning the majority of seats in Quebec. Liberals can sweep Atlantic Canada, take back their former strongholds in Ontario (which is a lot), along with a handful of ridings around Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. They could also win a few in Calgary and Edmonton.

    2. And nobody here is allowing for the "Flaherty flip" !!

      But other polls have shown it. Wait a week and poll again !!

    3. Big Jay,

      If you look at the regional breakdown of the Angus Reid poll with likely voters the Tories are close to a majority-43% in Ontario for example.

      I agree Quebec polls of late are looking more favourable for the NDP but, they are still down 7 points from the last election and the Liberals are up 16. I think 40 seats would represent about their maximum.

      With the exception of the Calgary-Skyview I do not think the Liberals can win a seat in Alberta. With AR putting the Tories at 60% in that province the chances they can usurp Deepak Obhrai are slim to non-existent. The North-east Calgary community love Deepak, he is quite frankly the Conservative's biggest asset in that riding.
      In Edmonton they may have a chance in Edmonton-Centre but, once again with the Tories at 60% and Liberals at 20% the chances are very slim.

      The AR poll should be a wake up call for young Trudeau- only 20% of eligible voters pick him as best PM-that is anemic. It means he is a drag on the Liberal party since 29% of Canadian would vote Liberal. Trudeau must begin to attack Mulcair because the continued Liberal-NDP vote split will only lead to another strong, stable, majority Conservative Government.

  13. The "Flaherty flip" ?

    You think that the realization and admission that Flarhety , in the Harper cabinet, was the Best Finance Minister ever will not have a lasting impact on the rational preference for a strong stable Conservative majority .....

    Especially when contrasted with the budget somehow being able to balance itself under JT.


  14. Bede,

    According to the flat numbers, yes. But according to individual ridings, things change.

    After all, according to the flat numbers, the NDP should never have had more than five or six seats, but they consistently got close to twenty because of their popularity in certain parts of Canada.

    That's what I'm talking about here.


    1. Wayne,

      The flat numbers are a summary of local ridings. Today the NDP is below their 2011 support in every province-they are set to lose seats. The reason they get more than 5 or 6 seats is because their votes are concentrated in certain localities but, with their vote share down across the country they are down in all these local areas.


    2. Bede,

      But you are talking about today, and I'm talking about Election 2015. That's an eighteen month difference.

      I may be wrong, if my guesses about which issues are important are off, but I think I'll be fairly close.

      To the best of my knowledge, I was the first person to call the NDP as winning over a hundred seats in the last election. I had people laugh at that. Until the election.



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