Don’t underestimate Poilievre


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Fasten your seatbelt for some numbers.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/08/2022 (232 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Fasten your seatbelt for some numbers.

If a federal election was held today, there is a 55 per cent likelihood the Conservative Party of Canada would emerge with a minority government, and a four per cent chance it would form a majority government.

There is only a 40 per cent chance the incumbent Liberals will be re-elected with another minority government, and no hope of a Liberal majority government.

Those are the current projections on the website, which compiles all political polls conducted throughout the country and produces real-time predictions of outcomes based on that polling data.

The latest predictions are impacted by two large national polls that were conducted in the past few weeks. On July 17, Mainstreet Research found that the Conservatives had a big 38-28 lead over the Liberals, with the NDP trailing at 18 per cent.

Eight days later, Abacus Data found that the Tories led the Liberals by a 35-30 margin, with the NDP back at 19 per cent.

The Abacus poll also found that “33 per cent of Canadians think the country is headed in the right direction, which is 8-10 points below where things were a year ago,” and that “34 per cent approve of the government’s performance, down four points this month, while disapproval has spiked to 51 per cent (up five points in two weeks), the highest number ever recorded since the Trudeau government was elected in 2015.”

That poll also revealed that 51 per cent of respondents had a negative view of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which is the highest number recorded by Abacus since 2015. Just 31 per cent had a positive impression of the prime minister.

Finally, Abacus found that “the Conservative Party is holding onto 92 per cent of its past vote while gaining a little from the Liberals, NDP, and a considerable portion of past PPC voters,” and that “the Liberal party is holding 81 per cent of its past vote (losing nine per cent to the NDP, and six per cent to the Conservatives) while gaining seven per cent from the NDP.”

All of those numbers tell us that Trudeau and his Liberal caucus are lucky they made a deal with the NDP to prevent another election from being held before 2025. Otherwise, several Liberal MPs would be in danger of losing their jobs.

The poll results also reveal that Trudeau has become a serious drag on his party’s popularity. While his personal popularity carried the Liberals to a surprise majority in 2015, he has worn out his welcome with many Canadians, to the point where he is hurting his team’s re-election hopes.

Finally, the numbers tell us that the Conservative party is winning back voters from the People’s Party of Canada. That’s clearly the result of all the populist rhetoric we have heard during the current CPC leadership contest.

That brings us to the subject of this week’s visitor to Brandon: Conservative party leadership front-runner Pierre Poilievre.

For months, leadership rival Jean Charest has insisted that his campaign is “built to win” a federal election, and that the Conservatives cannot win with Poilievre as leader. I’m not sure that’s true.

Poilievre has been recognized as the likely winner of the Conservative party leadership race for at least two months. In the minds of many Canadians, he is already the perceived leader of the CPC, and the party is holding a genuine, stable lead in the polls over Trudeau’s Liberals.

Indeed, the Abacus poll found that “among those who voted Liberal in 2021, only 39 per cent have a negative view of Pierre Poilievre, and 12 per cent have a positive view — the plurality (49 per cent) are neutral towards the presumed Conservative front runner. Among those on the centre of the spectrum, Poilievre is 15 per cent positive, 20 per cent negative, meaning a lot of centrist votes are up for grabs — and his -5 net score with this group compares favourably to Trudeau’s -23.”

In other words, Trudeau is far less popular among Canadians than Poilievre. Six out of 10 respondents who voted for a Liberal candidate in the last election either have a positive or neutral opinion of Poilievre. The alarm bells should be ringing at Liberal party headquarters.

But there’s more: as good as the numbers look for Poilievre right now, they don’t reflect other big advantages he has in his favour. He is surrounded by a team of experienced, aggressive advisors who like to play rough and, unlike past campaigns, won’t be pushed around by the Liberals during an election campaign.

Even more importantly, Poilievre and his team have shown they are able to raise huge amounts of money and attract massive numbers of volunteers and supporters — critical commodities in winning elections.

Several years ago, American author Tim Fargo wrote: “Don’t estimate the power of being underestimated.”

It’s time to stop underestimating Pierre Poilievre. It’s time to start viewing him as the next leader of the Conservative party and, if the Trudeau Liberals don’t get their act together, the next prime minister.


» Twitter: @deverynross

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