Justin Trudeau Most Popular Federal Leader; Prime Minister Leads on Economy, Experience and Judgment

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The latest Canadian Press-Harris/Decima survey asked about the leaders of the major federal parties.

Four-in-ten Canadians hold a favourable impression of Stephen Harper. Nationally, 40% express this view, while 57% say they have an unfavourable impression of the Prime Minister. Mr. Harper’s highest favourability is in Alberta (55%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (61%). Mr. Harper enjoys strong support among his base, with 90% of Conservatives saying they have a favourable impression of him.

A majority (57%) say they have a favourable impression of new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, while 30% say their impression is unfavourable. Mr. Trudeau enjoys a net positive favourability rating in all regions of the country, including in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Alberta, where 48% apiece say their impression of Mr. Trudeau is favourable. Mr. Trudeau is seen favourably by 85% of Liberals, 32% of Conservatives, 54% of New Democrats, 39% of BQ supporters, and 67% of Greens.

Just over four in ten (42%) have a favourable impression of Thomas Mulcair, while 28% say their impression is unfavourable. Mr. Mulcair is most popular in the province of Quebec where 63% say their impression is favourable.

In Quebec, one in four (25%) view Daniel Paille favourably, while 22% view him unfavourably. Elizabeth May enjoys a strong net-positive rating with 45% viewing her favourably, and 24% unfavourably.

Respondents were also asked to choose which of Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair are best on a specific battery of questions. In general, these statements reveal that Mr. Trudeau is most popular in Eastern and Central Canada, among young people, and Liberal voters. In comparison, Mr. Harper is most popular in Western Canada (while importantly still being competitive on almost all questions in Ontario) and among Conservatives. Mr. Mulcair maintains support among New Democrats and in the province of Quebec.

When asked which of the three “shares your values”, 33% say Mr. Trudeau, 25% say Mr. Harper and 19% say Mr. Mulcair.

  • Mr. Trudeau is strongest on this question east of Manitoba, among those under the age of 25, and among Liberals. Mr. Harper is strongest on the Prairies, among men, and among Conservatives. Mr. Mulcair performs strongly in Quebec where a plurality feels he shares their values and among New Democrats.

When asked who “would make the best Prime Minister” 33% say Mr. Trudeau, 31% Mr. Harper and 18% Mr. Mulcair.

  • Once again, Mr. Trudeau is most popular among those east of Manitoba, among younger Canadians, and among Liberals. Mr. Harper is most popular west of Quebec, among men, and Conservatives. Of note, 36% in Ontario feel Mr. Harper would make the best Prime Minister, the same number who say the same about Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Mulcair is the choice of a plurality of those in Quebec, and a majority of New Democrats.

One in three (33%) say Justin Trudeau “cares most about people like you”, while 23% say Stephen Harper, and 21% say Thomas Mulcair.

 

  • Mr. Trudeau is particularly strong on this question in Atlantic Canada and Ontario. Almost half of those under the age of 25 feel he cares most about people like them, as do a strong majority of Liberals. More than four in ten Albertans feel Mr. Harper cares most about people like them, as do almost three in ten men, and seven in ten Conservatives. Once again, Mr. Mulcair’s popularity is most prevalent in the province of Quebec and among New Democrats

Almost four in ten (37%) feel Mr. Trudeau “would best represent Canada on the world stage”, while 34% say Mr. Harper and 14% Mr. Mulcair.

  • Women, those east of Ontario, and Liberals are more likely than their counterparts to feel Mr. Trudeau would best represent Canada internationally. For Mr. Harper, his support is most likely to reside in Western Canada, among men, and among Conservatives. While Mr. Mulcair’s popularity is highest in Quebec on this question, he still trails Mr. Trudeau here (41%-28%).

While Mr. Trudeau leads on a majority of the measures tested, Mr. Harper is seen as stronger on; judgment, handling the economy, and experience.

Almost four in ten (37%) feel Mr. Harper is “most capable of handling economic issues”. A further 23% prefer Mr. Trudeau on this question, while 18% cite Thomas Mulcair.

  • Mr. Harper is the choice of at least a plurality of respondents east of Quebec, and enjoys the support of 45% of men, and 86% of Conservatives on the question. Mr. Trudeau is most popular in Atlantic Canada, and among Liberals. A plurality of those in Quebec feel Mr. Mulcair is most capable of handling economic issues, as do 49% of New Democrats.

 

Three in ten (31%) feel Mr. Harper ”has the best judgment”, while 24% say Mr. Trudeau and 21% say Mr. Mulcair.

  • Mr. Harper is most popular on this question in Alberta where almost half feel he has the best judgment. Men are more likely than women to feel he’s best in this space, while more than four in five Conservatives feel he has the best judgment. Justin Trudeau is seen as having the best judgment in Atlantic Canada, and among Liberals. Once again, Mr. Mulcair is popular in Quebec on this question with four in ten feeling he has the best judgment.

More than four in ten (45%) feel Mr. Harper “has the type of experience required to be Prime Minister”. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair enjoy the support of 19% apiece on this question.

  • A majority of those west of Quebec feel Mr. Harper leads on this question, as do a majority of males. Mr. Trudeau’s highest marks on this question are among Atlantic Canadians, women, and those under the age of 25. Mr. Mulcair retains his strength in the province of Quebec where nearly four in ten feel he has the type of experience required to be Prime Minister.

According to Chairman Allan Gregg:
"On first blush, there is some good news in these data for each of the three main party leaders. Stephen Harper is seen as the most experienced, the most able to manage the economy and continues to engender rock-ribbed loyalty among Conservative supporters. Thomas Mulcair continues to be very popular in his home province and outscores both other leaders in Quebec when it comes to favourability, who would be the best PM and who shares your values. Against this, it is also clear that in Justin Trudeau, both Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair face a leader the likes of whom they have not dealt with before. Not only are his favourability scores far superior to the other leaders, his popularity (at least for the time being) marginalizes Thomas Mulcair as "the third leader" and makes it very difficult for him to claim that he is a Prime Minister in waiting. Similarly, for any opposition leader to challenge an incumbent Prime Minister on measures such as whom can best represent Canada in the world or who would be the best PM is without precedent. In some ways, even more remarkable is the finding that Canadians feel they already know Justin Trudeau - almost 9 out of 10 Canadians already hold an opinion of him (compared to 55% who expressed an opinion of Mr. Mulcair after he became leader of the NDP or even the 73% who held an opinion about Bob Rae immediately after he became interim leader of the Liberals), suggesting his image is significantly more defined than past new Leaders. To the extent that Mr. Trudeau may have an Achilles heal it is in the area of judgment. Needless-to-say, his Conservative opponents already seem to know this but these findings suggest it will be far more difficult to define Mr. Trudeau in their terms than it has been in the past".

Each week, Harris/Decima interviews just over 1000 Canadians through teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey. The most recent data were gathered between April 18 and April 21, 2013 for 1,006 completes. A sample of the same size has a margin of error of 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.