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In a nationwide online survey of 2000 Canadian adults, with fieldwork during the month of October, we asked “which of these do you think has been a better Prime Minister” and offered a series of paired choices, focusing on those leaders who had served in office for a similar length of time as Justin Trudeau.
Among Liberal voters strong majorities believe Justin Trudeau has been a better PM than Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper, and smaller majorities give Justin Trudeau the nod over his father and Jean Chretien. Conservative voters are almost unanimously of the view that all four other PMs tested were better in the job than Justin Trudeau.
The challenges facing the current Liberal leader are further underscored by looking at the results among women and voters under 30, two groups that Justin Trudeau counted heavily on in his election wins to date. Most women say Trudeau has underperformed each of these predecessors. Opinion is similar among younger voters.
Bruce Anderson: popular opinion about incumbents ebbs and flows, and how people look back at politicians years after their time in office can sometimes be more generous than it was at the time they left politics. It is entirely plausible that 10 years after his time in politics is over, more people will see Justin Trudeau as better than his predecessors. And so, it makes sense to look at these as being more interim assessments of the current incumbent, compared to final marks on the others.
Still, the numbers highlight the challenges facing Justin Trudeau today, an incumbent battling a sense of fatigue and a desire for a shift in focus towards more economically oriented politics. His perceived record among younger voters and women is a sharp reminder that people may not recall what government has done that might have helped them, and are generally looking forward and wondering what you might do, that comes next.
spark*insights is lead by Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading and most experienced public opinion researchers, along with Alex Kohut, former Senior Manager of Research & Advertising in the Office of the Prime Minister. From polling and research to analysis and guidance, we help organizations, uncover the factors driving or influencing public perception to gain valuable insights into the shape and movement of the landscape.