No significant movement for any party in first half of federal electioncampaign: poll

Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer SunMedia

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By Joan Bryden


OTTAWA — Despite a frenzy of cross-country travel, policy announcements, attack ads and controversies, political leaders were essentially running in place over the first half of the federal election campaign, a new poll suggests.

A Leger survey conducted Sept. 27 to 30 for The Canadian Press suggests the Liberals and Conservatives remained locked in a tie at the mid-point of the campaign, each with 34 per cent support.

The New Democrats and Greens remained well back, battling it out for third place with 14 per cent and 11 per cent support respectively. The fledgling People’s Party trailed with just two per cent.

Leger’s national numbers have shown no significant movement since the start of the campaign on Sept. 11, despite the parties’ best efforts to move the needle.

According to the poll, 69 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as Liberal supporters and 74 per cent of Conservatives said their choices are final. But fewer than half of those who supported the NDP and Greens indicated their votes are locked in.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said that suggests a lot of progressive voters could be parked for now with the smaller parties, waiting to see if they need to vote strategically for the Liberals to stop the Conservatives. He predicted that’s a message Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will hammer during the second half of the campaign.

Overall, 43 per cent — including 59 per cent of NDP supporters and 59 per cent of Green supporters — said they’re most fearful of the Conservatives resuming power. An almost equal number — 42 per cent, including 85 per cent of Conservative supporters — said they most fear another four years of the Trudeau Liberals.

The holding pattern may also indicate that voters are waiting to see if they’re inspired by any of the leaders during tonight’s French debate on Quebec’s TVA network or during next week’s official English and French debates.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they plan to tune in. As to what they most want to hear the leaders talk about, 30 per cent said affordability and the level of taxation, 22 per cent said the environment and climate change, 13 per cent picked health care and 11 per cent chose social programs and fighting poverty.

Embarrassing photos and video of Trudeau wearing brown- or blackface makeup, which surfaced at the end of the campaign’s first week and for which he is still apologizing, had little impact on respondents.

Just six per cent said they would certainly not vote Liberal because of the scandal, compared to 41 per cent who said it won’t deter them from voting Liberal and 38 per cent who said they wouldn’t have voted Liberal in any event.

In terms of who would make the best prime minister, Trudeau remained on top, the choice of 26 per cent compared to Conservative Andrew Scheer’s 21 per cent. New Democrat Jagmeet Singh was the choice of 11 per cent, the Greens’ Elizabeth May was chosen by eight per cent and the People’s Party’s Maxime Bernier was picked by just three per cent.

The poll surveyed 1,558 eligible voters selected from Leger’s online panel; internet-based surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they are not considered random samples.

In regional results, which are somewhat less reliable because of the smaller sample size, respondents continued to give the Liberals the edge in the two provinces that account for almost 60 per cent of the 338 seats up for grabs on Oct. 21.

In Ontario, Liberal support stood at 39 per cent, compared to 30 per cent for the Conservatives, 17 for the NDP, 11 for the Greens and 2 for the People’s Party.

In Quebec, Liberals had the support of 34 per cent, compared to the Conservatives’ 25 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois’ 21 per cent, the NDP’s 10, the Greens’ 8 and the People’s Party’s 2.

The Liberals also enjoyed a 25-point lead in the Atlantic provinces.

The Conservatives, however, were in a commanding lead in Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan.

And they were ahead in British Columbia, with 36 per cent to the Liberals’ 28, the NDP’s 20, the Greens’ 15 and the People’s Party’s 1 — but with no party very far out in front and even the fourth-place Greens well into double digits, some ridings could see real four-way fights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2019.