Another poll emerged over the weekend showing that Justin Trudeau is the front-runner for the Liberal leadership race and could transform the national political landscape. But behind the numbers are a few signs Trudeau's popularity may be on the down-swing.
A poll by Léger Marketing for Le Devoir and the Montreal Gazette put the Conservatives ahead in national voting intentions with 35 per cent to 30 per cent for the New Democrats and 18 per cent for the Liberals.
But with Trudeau at the helm, the Liberals would take 31 per cent of the vote. That put them in a tie with the Conservatives, while the NDP fell to third with only 24 per cent support.
The Trudeau Liberals would jump to over 50 per cent in Atlantic Canada and would be tied (or almost tied) for the lead in Quebec, Ontario and the Prairie provinces. Overnight, the Liberals would be re-cast as a leading contender to form the country's next government.
However, these numbers may not be as good as they appear at first glance. Though Trudeau clearly transforms the Liberals' chances, the 31 per cent registered in this poll is far below the 39 per cent that a Trudeau-led Liberal Party took in a mid-November poll by Forum Research, or the 42 per cent who told Harris-Decima they would be certain or likely to vote Liberal if Trudeau was leader.
Both of those were conducted before the recent spate of gaffes by the leadership candidate, suggesting the incidents may have put a dent in Trudeau's appeal.
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The poll by Léger also shed some light on what Canadians think of Trudeau as a potential prime minister. While a large proportion (46 per cent) said he has the qualities to be PM (against 31 per cent who said he does not), respondents were more split on whether he has the competencies (40 per cent said yes, while 36 per cent said no). And only 27 per cent said he is ready to lead the country, compared to 50 per cent who said he is not.
Nevertheless, Trudeau stands head and shoulders above his rivals. Echoing the results of the Harris-Decima poll that found 20 per cent of Canadians certain or likely to vote for a Liberal Party led by Marc Garneau, Léger reported that the Garneau Liberals would take only 19 per cent of the vote. That put him well behind the Tories and NDP. Martha Hall Findlay did even worse, with 12 per cent support for a Liberal Party led by her.
Trudeau has the name recognition that his opponents lack. Only six per cent of Canadians, when asked whether they had a good or bad opinion of the leadership candidates, did not know who he was. That is in contrast to the 27 per cent who drew a blank for Garneau or the 51 per cent who did not recognize Hall Findlay. Canadians also have a good opinion of Trudeau: 49 per cent said so, compared to 21 per cent who have a bad opinion of him. Garneau split 38 per cent to eight per cent on this question.
Most tellingly, 38 per cent of Canadians (and 60 per cent of Liberal voters) thought Trudeau was the best choice for leader, while Garneau placed second at 16 per cent (20 per cent among Liberals). No other candidate did better than three per cent, and most scored zero. But while Trudeau remains the leading light for the Liberal Party, there is some indication that the lustre is beginning to wear off.
Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.
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