Trudeau’s Potential Reach exceeds that of Harper and Mulcair

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The latest Canadian Press-Harris/Decima survey on the leaders of the major federal parties reveals that Justin Trudeau has a real opportunity to reach into NDP support, and that Mr. Harper’s hold on questions of judgment, experience and the economy make him a formidable opponent for the other parties.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is the extent to which these attribute numbers have remained relatively consistent over time, suggesting little has happened since Mr. Trudeau has become Liberal leader for Canadians to change their opinion on him. While Mr. Mulcair continues to trail both Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau on these questions, his strength in the province of Quebec is worth noting given the importance that region could prove to be to the future success of the Liberals.

  • Nationally, almost four in ten (36%) say they have a favourable impression of Stephen Harper, while 56% say their impression is unfavourable.
  • A majority (54%) have a favourable impression of Justin Trudeau, while 31% have an unfavourable impression.
  • More than one in three (36%) say they have a favourable impression of Thomas Mulcair, while 30% say their impression is unfavourable.
  • In the province of Quebec, BQ leader Daniel Paillé is viewed favourably by 23%, and unfavourably by 20%.
  • Green Party leader Elizabeth May leaves a favourable impression on 37% of Canadians, and an unfavourable impression among 27%.
     

Harris/Decima also delved deeper into opinion on Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair, asking which of these three leaders is best suited to a series of attributes.

Shares Your Values

When asked which of Mr. Harper, Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Mulcair “shares your values”, 33% select Mr. Trudeau, 24% Mr. Harper and 17% Mr. Mulcair. At a topline level, these numbers have remained relatively unchanged through three waves of study in April, June and August.

Some demographic differences to note include:

  • Mr. Trudeau enjoys consistent popularity across all regions on this question, and among both men and women. Those under the age of 35 are more likely than those over the age of 65 to say Mr. Trudeau “shares your values”.
  • Mr. Harper is more likely to earn support on this question west of Quebec, and is more popular among those over the age of 65 than among those younger.
  • Mr. Mulcair is more popular on this question among residents of Quebec, and is less popular in Alberta than in other regions of the country.
  • While Liberals (65%) and Conservatives (69%) are likely to prefer Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Harper, respectively, Thomas Mulcair hold onto fewer NDP supporters (51%) on the question of “shares your values”. Among New Democrats, 24% say Mr. Trudeau most “shares your values”.

Best Prime Minister
Nationally, 33% feel that Justin Trudeau would make the best Prime Minister, followed by Mr. Harper (29%) and Mr. Mulcair (14%). Similar to the question on sharing values, these numbers have remained relatively consistent over time.

Some demographic differences to note:

  • Mr. Trudeau’s support on this question is relatively consistent across age, region and gender, although those in Quebec (37%) are more likely than those in Alberta (25%) to feel Mr. Trudeau would make the best Prime Minister.
  • Once again, Mr. Harper finds more popularity west of Quebec. Additionally, those over the age of 65 are more likely than those under the age of 45 to feel he’d make the best Prime Minister. Additionally, men are more likely than women to feel Mr. Harper would make the best Prime Minister.
  • Mr. Mulcair finds more popularity in his home province of Quebec than elsewhere in the country.
  • Conservatives (78%) are more attached to their leader than Liberals are to Mr. Trudeau (63%), however once again New Democrats (41%) are less likely to see their leader as the best choice on this question. Three in ten (30%) New Democrats feel Justin Trudeau would make the best Prime Minister.

Cares about people like you
Three in ten (32%) say Justin Trudeau “cares most about people like you” while 21% prefer Stephen Harper and 17% prefer Thomas Mulcair. Similar to the previous two attributes mentioned, the numbers of this question has remained relatively consistent over the three waves of research.

Some demographics differences to note:

  • Mr. Trudeau enjoys more support on this question in Ontario than in BC and Quebec. Additionally, he enjoys more support on this attribute among those under the age of 65 than among those older.
  • Mr. Harper is more popular outside of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and among those over the age of 65.
  • Mr. Mulcair is once again most popular in Quebec on this question, but more generally, enjoys more popularity outside the province of Alberta than in it.
  • While six in ten Liberals and Conservatives prefer their own leader on this question, less than half (46%) of New Democrats feel Mr. Mulcair “cares about people like you”. Almost three in ten (28%) New Democrats feel Mr. Trudeau “cares most about people like you”.

Best Represent Canada on the World Stage
On the question of who would best represent Canada on the world stage, 32% select Mr. Harper, 32% Mr. Trudeau and 14% Mr. Mulcair. Once again, these numbers have remained relatively consistent over three waves of research.

Some demographic differences to note:

  • Mr. Trudeau is most popular on this question in Quebec than he is on the Prairies.
  • Mr. Harper’s popularity is once again more pronounced from Ontario to BC, particularly so outside of the province of Quebec. The Prime Minister is also more likely to be seen as best representing Canada internationally, among men.
  • Mr. Mulcair once again finds himself more popular in Quebec than elsewhere, particularly compared to those on the Prairies.
  • Across the political spectrum, Conservatives (78%) are most loyal to their leader on this question, followed by the Liberals, 61% of whom feel Mr. Trudeau is best suited to represent Canada on the world stage. Less than four in ten (37%) New Democrats feel Mr. Mulcair is best suited to represent Canada on the world stage, while 30% of New Democrats prefer Mr. Trudeau.
     

Tackling Economic Issues
Canadians are almost twice as likely to feel Stephen Harper is most capable of tackling economic issues as Justin Trudeau. Nationally, 39% prefer Mr. Harper on this question, while 20% prefer Mr. Trudeau and 15% Mr. Mulcair. Like the other attributes, there has not been considerable shift on this question since April.

Some demographic differences to note:

  • Those in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are twice as likely as those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to feel Justin Trudeau is most capable of handling economic issues.
  • Mr. Harper is once again most popular outside of Quebec, and among men.
  • Mr. Mulcair is more popular in Quebec than elsewhere, but is also more popular on this question among those over the age of 45, than those younger.
  • Conservatives are much more likely to feel their leader is most capable of tackling economic issues than other partisans. Fully 78% of Conservatives feel Mr. Harper is most capable of handling economic issues. By way of comparison 41% of Liberals feel Mr. Trudeau is most capable on this question, while 37% of New Democrats feel it is Mr. Mulcair. Nationally, 32% of Liberals and 31% of New Democrats feel Mr. Harper is most capable of handling economic issues.
     

Best Judgment
Opinion is more split on which leader has the best judgment. Nationally, 28% prefer Mr. Harper, 24% Mr. Trudeau and 17% Mr. Mulcair. These numbers have remained relatively consistent over time.

Some demographic differences to note:

  • The sense that Mr. Trudeau has the best judgment remains relatively consistent across age, region and gender.
  • Mr. Harper is most popular west of Quebec, and among men.
  • Mr. Mulcair is almost twice as popular in Quebec than he is elsewhere, and once again enjoys more popularity among those over the age of 45 than those younger.
  • Conservatives are once again more loyal to their leader than other partisans. Three in four Conservatives (75%) feel Mr. Harper has the best judgment, while 49% of Liberals feel Mr. Trudeau has the best judgment and 43% of New Democrats feel it is Mr. Mulcair.

Experience required to be Prime Minister
More than four in ten (43%) feel Mr. Harper is the leader who has the type of experience required to be Prime Minister, while 21% select Mr. Trudeau and 15% Mr. Mulcair. Once again, there has been little change on this question compared to when Mr. Trudeau first became leader of the Liberals.

Some demographic differences to note:

  • Mr. Trudeau is more likely to be the preferred choice on this question in Ontario and BC than he is in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
  • Mr. Harper’s popularity on this question is most pronounced on the Prairies than elsewhere.
  • As with all other attributes, Mr. Mulcair is most popular in the province of Quebec.
  • Almost nine in ten Conservatives (88%) feel Mr. Harper has the experience required to be Prime Minister, while 44% of Liberals feel Mr. Trudeau has this experience, and 39% of New Democrats feel it is Mr. Mulcair. Overall, 34% of Liberals and 29% of New Democrats feel Mr. Harper has the type of experience required to be Prime Minster.

According to Chairman Allan Gregg:
"In many ways, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau appear to be the mirror opposites of each other. The Prime Minister is seen as experienced, and a superior economic manager who lacks compassion and holds values that most cannot embrace. The Liberal leader cares, holds values that many share but is seen as inexperienced and lacking in economic credentials. The extent to which they are opposites however also would suggest that they are both also seen as incomplete and lacking in important dimensions of leadership."


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 August 22 and August 25, 2013 for 1,010 completes. A sample of the same size has a margin of error of 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.