Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trudeau continues to have majority support as PM

With detailed posts becoming less frequent here — at least until the provincial elections in Manitoba and Saskatchewan kick-off — I thought it might be useful to do shorter posts to alert readers of and summarize new polls on various topics that have come out in the previous 24 hours. I'd appreciate your thoughts in the comments section about whether this is worthwhile.

The latest poll comes from Nanos Research, as part of its weekly rolling poll. The latest numbers show Justin Trudeau at 51.5% on who Canadians see as the best choice for prime minister, followed at length by Rona Ambrose at 13.7% and Thomas Mulcair at 12.8%. Elizabeth May and Rhéal Fortin (interim leader of the Bloc) scored 5% and 1.2%, respectively. All seem to be holding steady after the post-election re-alignment.

You can read the full report from Nanos here.

Ambrose is suffering from a lack of familiarity (41% say they do not know if she has the qualities of a good leader), but Mulcair is clearly at a low ebb, as Nanos has not had him this low since the tracking began in 2013.


  1. Hi Eric - I appreciate these kinds of posts. Quick snippets with this information is a nice break to the longer posts you've done. Keep 'em coming! :)

  2. The Trudeau "good leader" tracker is an interesting metric. It looks like he bottomed out around the end of July. Does this indicate the CPC use of their financial advantage outside the election period was poor used? If his numbers don't improve in the short-term as the LPC honeymoon wears off, then he's going to be a liability for the NDP in 2019.

    Meanwhile, Mulcair didn't suffer overly in a loss of approval as a "good leader", but a shift from unsure to negative. That to me indicates that Mulcair's performance was as key to the LPC win as the Liberal surge.

    Finally, what has May done lately to move her into a "net positive" position for the first time in two years? If anything, I'd say the LPC action on the Environment file undercuts their base position of being the responsible choice for stewardship.

    Eric, shorter posts to fill the gaps would be much appreciated, unless they will effect the length between the more detailed postings.

    1. Mapleson,

      I do not understand the meaning of your your first paragraph: Why would Trudeau be a liability for the NDP in 2019 and what does the CPC "financial advantage have to do with either the Grits or Dippers?

    2. Whoops, the last sentence of the first paragraph should have been at the end of the second.

      The CPC ran a lot of pre-election attack ads that set a low bar for Trudeau to pass as a "good leader", thus more early spending resulted in more late momentum for the LPC.

    3. That's an interesting theory: Early lowering of Liberal numbers helped bring stronger momentum later on. Intuitively it makes sense: The bigger they are the harder they fall and all that. Whether that is a preventable strategic failure, or merely coincidence is more difficult to discern. On the one hand the result suggest it to be a strategic failure. On the other hand; the Tories had the ability to out-spend the rest of the field so there was little strategic sense "holding back" early in the campaign.

    4. My theory is that the CPC would have been better served to mix their messages (rather than a majority anti-LPC, to include a more sizable pro-CPC set). This would have served to reinforce the view of the CPC being the best choice of government. With the NDP as the Official Opposition, a sizable portion of historically "depressed" liberal voters were willing to consider the NDP as an alterative, and making the middle of the race a three-way tie. If those liberal voters were just to say home (as in 2006, 2008, and 2010), then we might have had a fourth electoral win for Harper.

      Of course, how the CPC conducted the election is only half of the story, and a strong data-based team run by the LPC was definitely a change from the last few outings (I would say that the LPC hadn't run a strong campaign since 1993).

      The CPC chose a historically long election period to maximize their financial advantage, but that choice allowed the LPC more time to recover from the pre-writ low.

    5. I agree the Conservative message lacked a positive spin. I imagine the problem for the Conservative War Room was the balance between focusing on the "CPC being the best choice of Government". While at the same time realising Harper was deeply unpopular. To me this would have afforded an opportunity to raise the profile of Lisa Raitt and other ministers. At the same time I imagine the Tories' thought the best strategy was what worked in the past: depressed Liberal turnout.

      I also agree in hindsight the election was too long (for the Tories), however, I would have never of thought so at the beginning of the campaign.

    6. Was the election too long for the Conservatives or not long enough?

      I can't prove it of course but, my gut feeling is had the campaign gone on for another two weeks Liberal support would have waned and Conservative and NDP support risen. Election Day corresponded to the nadir of NDP support during the campaign which in my opinion disproportionately helped the Liberals. The polls suggest a shorter campaign may have well benefited the Tories.

      I don't believe the NDP did a good job as Official Opposition: If one views the poll average since, Mulcair became leader, the NDP held first spot briefly just after Mulcair's election as leader and briefly once more during the early campaign. I don't believe the NDP ever understood the need to portray themselves as a government-in-Waiting was as important as holding the Government to account. This inability to be taken "seriously" as a [potential government doomed the NDP to third party status long before the writ was dropped. This strategic blunder is why I believe Mulcair should resign as leader. This is particularly important now as so many future NDP leaders were defeated in October and the NDP lacks representation from four provinces, all three territories, Greater Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary or Surrey.

    7. The Late Paul MacEwan
      One (gigantic) problem with your theory is that the dynamics of the polls and campaign did not occur independently of the election date. Had the election date been two weeks later, it's very likely that all of the dynamics would have changed--you can't merely take what happened up to October 18 and then say "now, let's actually vote two weeks later". If one interpretation seems clearer than all others, it is that the approaching deadline of voting day caused voters to start moving in large numbers in the last two weeks. I agree that the previous 8 weeks mattered, as they would in your scenario, but there's no reason to believe your gut feeling is anything other than too many Christmas cookies.

    8. The Tory campaign, and some of the post-mortems, struggled with a key fact: 65% of Canadians wanted them gone more than anything else, including electing their preferred party. I still see the arguments about it being the "wrong tone", or "we couldn't escape the change vote", as though "the change vote" is a random effect, not connected to actual people actually wanting change. (Meaning: they were dead set against the CPC)

      The CPC started with the most challenging strategy: niche marketing to a niche barely large enough to elect a slim majority, couple with suppressing the votes for other parties. They compounded this by failing to recognize that even amongst their supporters, they were turning people off with not only tone, but also policies, and shenanigans. And this was brought home, perversely, by cosying up to the Ford brothers during the last week. Subsequent polling showed what should have been obvious: Ford voters are not "the base", but a small subset of the base. And each Ford voter that was energized actually turned off another prospective CPC voter.

      Add in the fact that the Liberal platform, campaign, candidates and leader were all very appealing, and it should have been inevitable. The only reasons it wasn't were the hole the Liberals were in at the outset, and the mountain they had to climb to go from 30+ to majority. For that they can certainly thank Adrian Dix. Because it was his campaign that Mulcair ran on.

    9. I guess I was too subtle for you: My point is simply timinmg is everything.

      Also, it is clear you do not understand the CPC's strategy in the last election and so I would suggest you refrain from commenting on it. Niche market? You mean French speaking Quebeckers? Oh what a niche...78% of Quebec's population!

    10. @Ghost,
      I can agree with the concept that an even longer campaign might have aided the CPC, but two weeks more would have exceeded the 1872 as the longest election writ to closing of voting (2015 was 78 days, 1872 was 89 days). I would say in addition to our ‘fixed term’ election laws and minimum campaign lengths, we should be setting a maximum campaign length as well. I would set this at 50 days (giving us 5 to 7 weeks of campaigning plus 1 day of voting).
      It could be argued that in a longer campaign voters are not encouraged to be decisive and thus the NDP nadir only occurred because it was the end of the election, not anything intrinsic about their actions in October (beyond not performing at/above expectations).
      I’m willing to give Mulcair another chance, but their strategy must be updated. I agree with your critic of the NDP’s failure in positioning.

      The issue with that “fact” is that is doesn’t separate the dislike of the Harper Conservatives from the CPC. A different campaign might have tried to tackle that problem instead of just playing to the base. The CPC retained the vast majority of their 2011 votes, but they failed to energize any new support. Combining that with several last-ditch efforts that probably hindered as much as helped, and the stage was set.
      I would definitely not characterize the CPC strategy as niche marketing, more like carpet-bombing. They brought in higher TSFA limits, child benefits until 18, and income splitting. All of these were attempts at vote buying with taxpayers own money. As a Red Tory, I would have even supported these measures if the majority of the benefit went to the majority of Canadians. However, execution was so scatter-shot that the effects were diluted or concentrated in existing CPC voters.

  3. I think your writing style on the CBC is different from the one you had here.

    1. It is - the audience is a little broader and it has to be a little more of a fully-formed article, rather than a dryer dive into every aspect of an individual poll. I think more about the lede and the conclusion than I do here.

      But I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

    2. Eric,

      Enjoy the shorter posts as well as the (not so dry!) deep dives.

      Can I encourage you to post a link to your CBC stories here? It drives traffic for both sites and allows those of who want to read your work there to be notified when it goes up.

      Thanks in advance - your commentary is very enlightening.

    3. I get what you mean, though I find the CBC pieces harder to read because there's less information per line, and less information in the article overall.

      They're less matter-of-fact - here's what we know and what we don't - but they also cover the polls in less detail.

      I read your articles to learn things, and I learn less from the CBC pieces.

    4. jmeasor,

      A link to my latest articles are in the right-hand column, just under the banner ad.


      Hmm, too much lyrical goodness, I take it. But really, that is a useful critique. Less fluff, more stuff.

    5. To be fair, you're writing more articles more often, as well. There is only so much new information you can present.

      I used to work at a think tank where their communications strategy was that all ideas should be reduced to something you could tweet, or at the very least describe in an op-ed, because "no one wants to read an 85 page study".

      I like 85 page studies.

  4. I was quite taken with his speech at the T@C Report presentation. Compassionate and hopeful.

    1. The report was great but, it takes more than words it takes action to solve the problem. Trudeau has made some laudable and lofty commitments, I hope when budget time rolls around those words will be met with concrete action. Thus far, it doesn't look promising for Indigenous people: The Missing Women Inquiry is woefully underfunded. Wally Oppal estimated a national inquiry would cost 100 million dollars-Justin gave just 40 million! To me it smacks of more of the same from the Liberals: They talk a good game but, skimp and save on the execution.

  5. Pre-PM Trudeau didn't impress me much but as PM he has been doing solidly. His mistakes are minor and he has been saying the right things as he goes along. It'll be interesting to see if this honeymoon can hold up for 4 years (or more). Harper & Chretien rarely impressed me as PM's, and never were as smooth as Trudeau was, you'd think he was trained from birth for this or something :)

    1. Also, drama teachers make excellent orators.

      More policy wonks should study theatre. It would be extremely valuable for getting their ideas across.

    2. Doesn't Plato or Socrates warn us about actors as politicians?

    3. Of those two, it would have to have been Plato. Socrates's advice was rarely so specific.

    4. In some ways, Justin Trudeau's post election period reminds me of John Tory's.

      The electorate finds them a breath of fresh air and are not too worried about the specifics.

      They both succeed polarizing and controversial incumbents (loved by 1/3 of the electorate, loathed by 2/3 of the electorate).

    5. Plato and Mark Twain are probably the two most frequently misattributed writers in the world. The closest part from Plato's The Republic would be In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill... we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”

      I much prefer "The measure of a man is what he does with power” or “Those who tell the stories rule society”.


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