OTTAWA - A new poll suggests Canadians would be almost twice as likely to vote Liberal with Justin Trudeau at the helm than with other lesser-known prospective candidates for the federal party's leadership.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates 33 per cent would be certain or likely to vote Liberal if the party was led by the Montreal MP and eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
That's considerably more than the vote-drawing power demonstrated by nine other putative contenders, who polled between 10 and 18 per cent.
The poll appears four months before the race is set to officially begin and before any candidate has actually entered the contest.
Doug Anderson, Harris-Decima's senior vice-president, says the impressions of the various possible contenders are "undoubtedly soft" and could change dramatically once the contest is actually under way.
Consequently, he says the results are useful only as "a sort of starting grid" of public opinion, by which to measure the progress of the race.
The telephone poll of just more than 1,000 respondents was conducted June 14-18, and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
Trudeau initially ruled himself out of the contest but pressure has mounted on him to change his mind since Bob Rae's surprise announcement last week that he will not seek to turn his job as interim leader into a permanent gig.
With his youth, telegenic looks and family pedigree, Trudeau is the highest profile federal Liberal in the country. The poll results likely reflect recognition of his name as much as any perceived leadership qualities.
The poll tested the initial appeal of nine other putative contenders, with Montreal MP Marc Garneau placing a distant second to Trudeau. Eighteen per cent said they'd be certain or likely to vote Liberal if Canada's first astronaut took the helm.
Another Montreal MP, Denis Coderre, came in at 17 per cent; former cabinet minister John Manley and former MP Gerard Kennedy at 16 per cent each; Ottawa MP David McGuinty at 15 per cent; Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney at 14 per cent; New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc at 13 per cent; former MP Martha Hall Findlay at 12 per cent; and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi at 10 per cent.
Manley has ruled out running while the candidacies of Carney and Nenshi fall into the category of wishful thinking by Liberals desperate to find prominent stars to help restore their once-mighty party to its former glory.
The Liberals were reduced to a third-party rump in the 2011 election, surpassed by the ascendant NDP for the first time in history. Michael Ignatieff lost his own seat and resigned as leader almost immediately.
The poll suggests Trudeau has the greatest early potential to maintain the Liberals' current support and draw support from other parties. Even so, 67 per cent of respondents said they'd be unlikely to vote Liberal — a number that rose to 82-89 per cent with other possible contenders at the helm.
Surprising Justin Trudeau Facts
With talk of Trudeau making a bid for the Liberal leadership reaching a fever pitch (again), HuffPost takes a look at some surprising facts about Canada's perpetual PM-in-waiting. (CP)
11. Politics On Mother's Side Too
Trudeau's maternal grandfather <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Sinclair_(politician)" target="_hplink">James Sinclair</a> was a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in Louis St.-Laurent's government in the 1950s. (House of Commons) <em><strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slide incorrectly said Sinclair was a Progressive Conservative MP.</em>
10. Born In Office
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau was only the second child ever to be born while a parent was prime minister</a>. The first was John A. Macdonald's youngest daughter Margaret Mary Macdonald. Trudeau's younger brothers, Alexandre (Sacha) and Michel were the third and fourth. (CP)
9. Educated Enough?
Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill and a Bachelor of Education from UBC. He also studied engineering at the Université de Montréal and environmental geography at McGill, but never finished degrees in those fields.
8. Enemies To Friends
While fathers Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau were rivals, sons Justin and Ben are friends. Mulroney attended Trudeau's wedding to Sophie Grégoire. Grégoire has worked as Quebec correspondent for CTV's eTalk, which is hosted by Mulroney. (CP)
7. Let Them Eat Anything But Cake
Trudeau didn't have cake at his wedding, with <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Sophie arguing that people never eat it anyway</a>. (Shutterstock)
6. Born On Christmas
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau entered the world on December 25, 1971</a>.
5. Two Tattoos In One
Trudeau has a large tattoo on his left shoulder. <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/justinpjtrudeau/statuses/179973685136998400" target="_hplink">The planet Earth inside a Haida raven</a>. Trudeau got the globe tattoo when he was 23 and the raven when he turned 40. (Media Ball)
4. Keeping It In The Family
Trudeau and his wife Sophie have two children, Xavier James (4) and Ella-Grace Margaret (3). Both are partially named after family.<a href="http://www.chatelaine.com/en/article/4970--the-littlest-trudeau" target="_hplink"> Xavier James is named after Trudeau's maternal grandfather James Sinclair</a> (the politician) and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Gr%C3%A9goire" target="_hplink">Ella-Grace Margaret is named after Trudeau's mother Margaret and Grace Elliot, Trudeau's paternal grandmother</a>. Xavier also happens to share a birthday with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. (CP)
3. Politician And Actor
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0846011/" target="_hplink">Trudeau played Talbot Mercer Papineau</a> in the 2007 CBC miniseries "The Great War."
2. .. And Video Game Star
<a href="http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/06/in-deus-ex-justin-trudeau-is-the-pm-and-canada-has-a-problem-with-illegal-immigrants-from-the-u-s/" target="_hplink">Trudeau is prime minister in the dystopian future portrayed in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution</a>. (CP)
1. Childhood Sweathearts
Sophie used to visit the Trudeau family home when she was a child. She was a classmate and friend of Trudeau's youngest brother Michel, who died tragically in a B.C. avalanche in 1998. Justin and Sophie made contact again at a fundraiser in 2003 and soon after began dating. <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Trudeau was so smitten</a> that he declared they would spend the rest of their lives together on the very first date. (CP)