02.04.2015 11:05 AM

If you read any poll this year, read this one

My friends at Abacus have come up with the most fascinating survey – and the most important one – of this election year.  It will make you smile, and it will make you think.  Here it is summarized in three helpful bullets.  The link is below the graphic:

  • Stephen Harper will win if the big issues are the economy and the future
  • Justin Trudeau will win if the big issue is who is most likeable
  • Tom Mulcair will win if everyone needs to borrow a hundred bucks in a hurry

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.03.48 AM


  1. BrianK says:

    That *is* interesting. More interesting than most polls I see. And I think it doesn’t bode well for the Libs or the NDP. My impression is that Canadians are ultimately pragmatists. Trudeau’s “hope and hard work” line always makes me cringe, because it’s such an obvious attempt to copy Obama, but the conditions that gave rise to Obama just don’t exist here. Canadians aren’t, en masse, feeling hopeless right now. Most Canadians recognize that Harper, whatever his flaws, managed the economy competently during a global recession. We also don’t deify our politicians like they do in the U.S. When asked to choose between the likeable choice and the sensible choice, I think most Canadians will go for the sensible choice. Trudeau’s got to show he’s steady and smart, in addition to being likeable. If he goes all in on likability as the decisive factor, it won’t be nearly enough.

  2. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Joe Clark and Ed Broadbent generally topped polls on the question of likability. Unfortunately for them (but fortunate for the country), most Canadians know that being a nice guy and actually having the ability to lead and manage the affairs of a nation are two entirely different matters.

    Here’s a test that’s easy to do: Next time Harper or Trudeau is being interviewed on TV, turn off the picture and simply listen.

  3. Jason says:

    There’s an element of trust in babysitting kids/pets- but I agree otherwise this isn’t great news for JT. Interesting that they thought he would be best to survive in the wilderness though, goes against the “Justine” slur/princess writing in the Tory ads. Would have thought “the grizzly” would have come out on top for that.

    • Tiger says:

      Conservative who likes Stephen Harper a lot here.

      Trudeau went canoeing with his dad up north, was trained in outdoor activities that way. He was a (good) camp counsellor. He was a winter sports (snowboarding) instructor.

      Of course he’d be best to survive in the wilderness — at least from the public information we have. (Who knows, maybe the Harpers or the Mulcairs spent summer vacations doing survivalist things.)

      • Tiger says:

        Harper for mobilizing government to fight zombie uprising. Trudeau for surviving zombie uprising.

      • GFMD says:

        I also suspect the impression of virility is what was at play there. I doubt the average respondee had the background knowledge to know about Trudeau’s active role in Katimivik – the big tell its impressionistic rather than well-thought-through is that Mulcair didn’t win for best one to review a contract.

        • Tiger says:

          Wasn’t “review a contract”. Was “negotiate a contract”.

          The leader who’s broken a party (PCPC for Reform), quit, come back to lead a party (CA), brokered a re-merger (CPC), won that leadership, negotiated his way through three hung parliaments, finally brokered a parliamentary majority coalition — you don’t see how/why a plurality of people would consider that guy the best negotiator?

        • GFMD says:

          They’d certainly be ignorant of the “I simply can’t manage a parliament so obviously I must break my word on fixed elections” gambit.

        • Tiger says:

          And it was a calculated risk that worked!

  4. edward nuff says:

    Wow. Lot of water being carried around here. Thing is it can spill quickly (JT) or evaporate (Harper) or someone finds a diviner but it ain’t polls, kinsella or me who has a clue. Carry on.

  5. Marg says:

    The difference between polled “popularity” and political “electability”…. big difference!

    Personally, I think these leader polls should be banned because they mislead and are subject to pushing and thus not objective nor reliable.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Yeah Warren, I remember what the polls said — and “conventional wisdom” lapped up: Pauline would get a majority— Philippe was a lousy leader. Katheen would lose, etc.

    Might as well come out and predict a Liberal win due to the Conservatives overplaying their hand. That strategy only works with unpopular leaders, read Dion and Ignatieff.

    It won’t cut the mustard with the new guy who happens to be consistently well liked. The CPC are screwed, they simpy haven’t awakened to that fact yet.

    • Marg says:

      So you’re depending on Liberal election victories provincially, and Justin will just ride the Liberal “Cherry Coke” wave to federal victory (after the Orange Crush wave fizzes out)?

      Yes, I can see that encouraging extrapolation from provincial to federal politics. However projecting election victory from now to October is fraught with unexpected events. Justin is clearly sailing along high, but what happens when the tide goes out after an election campaign? Can Justin sustain his spectacular popularity and become the prime minister of Canada?

  7. Lance says:

    Or comfortable, or convenient.

  8. James Smith says:

    Mr Likeable won in 1957 & 1958
    Lesser Evil won in 1962, 1963, & 1965
    Mr Likeable won in 1968, 1972, 1974,
    Lesser Evil won 1979 & 1980
    Mr Likeable won 1984, 1988, 1993, 1997, & 2000
    Lesser Evil won in 2004, 2006 & 2011
    However; Mr Likeable took his party from 4th place to 2nd in 2011 (& caused many Liberal voters to vote Reform/Tory in Ontario)

    What do Regan, Slick Willy, W & Obama have in common? I’d argue they are were all the Mr Likeable.

    • Marg says:

      Okay, but do you think “Mr Likeable” will survive an election campaign with vicious attack ads from both sides and leader debates too?

      Will Canadians still “like” him after he is politically wounded? Depending on “like” (aka “love”) is risky … n’est-ce pas?

      • James Smith says:

        DUNNO, I’d say he’s not been scratched – yet. As for the debates; Ms W in Ontario was the looser last year & won the election.
        Who knows how all these men will do & what the EMOTIONAL MEME will be in the fall.

        • Marg says:

          Okay, how about vicious attack ads from both the NDP and CPC tearing down Justin strip by strip.. will “like/love” conquer all? I wonder, particularly after Dion and Ignatieff.

          As it looks now, the NDP will end up in third place losing MPs across Canada. Will Mulcair just lay back and capitulate to Trudeau or will he go down fighting, because losing to Justin would be the end of his political life?

          • graham watt says:

            There is nothing harder to stop than a trend.

          • Marg says:

            Trends can go up and trends can go down….. so is Justin a ‘trend’ or just a ‘fad’? I reserve my judgment until 10-14 days to voting. Then we shall see who is ascending and who is plummeting.

          • James Smith says:

            Like I said, Dunno if the attack ads from either side work this time; but we’ll see. Mr K may be correct and the present PM may be able to scare people into voting for him. (Fear moved votes, but didn’t win the 1988 election BTW.)
            If the NDP get too desperate and the leader’s frustration or ANGRY TOM is the perception, we could be looking at NDP numbers lower than the Grit 2011 numbers.
            In one respect this election is still a lifetime away.

          • Marg says:

            @Graham — The question is: is Justin’s support a trend or just a fad? I believe polls only indicate current popularity and the challenge will be to convert popularity into votes. It’s called GOTV.

  9. Adam says:

    Al, how do you turn off the TV and just listen? Put a blanket over the screen?!

  10. Kre8tv says:

    But isn’t this really just a new way to present the old axiom of choosing competency/not the time to change horses versus time for a change?

  11. graham watt says:

    I agree with you Marg that trends can go up or down, but the one JT is riding isn’t all Jt. In fact, I believe it’s Mr. Harper who is the main propellent of this trend. Jt is a change agent. The Nanos display for the past year or so isn’t
    JT as much as SH. If you’re in agony with toothache, you can’t wait for the needle you always fear when you’re well. Lots of people seem to be in agony/

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