A new poll suggests Canadians harbour some doubts about the hype surrounding Justin Trudeau and wonder whether he would be getting so much attention if not for his famous father.
It also suggests that Canadians don't seem to mind all that much.
They offered both good news and bad for the presumed future leader of the Liberal Party.
The good news: 61 per cent of Canadians agree that, under Trudeau, the Liberals will represent the best chance of beating Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. That is very damaging to Thomas Mulcair’s hope of making the NDP the primary anti-Harper vehicle for progressive voters, as even 59 per cent of NDP supporters agree the Trudeau Liberals have a better shot.
More than two-thirds of Canadians, meanwhile, agree the Liberals will eventually return to power — up from 56 per cent four months ago. Even a slim majority of Tory voters agree that their party will be ousted by the Liberals at some point in the future.
But there are some mixed results, as well.
While 57 per cent agree that Trudeau represents a refreshing new way of doing politics, a large proportion disagree (43 per cent), including 39 per cent of the 18- to 34-year-old the Trudeau campaign hopes to galvanize. And the country is split 50-50 on whether they know what Trudeau stands for and where he would take the country as prime minister. A silver lining on that question, though, is that 75 per cent of Liberals agree they know where he stands, suggesting that support for him is not entirely blind.
However, respondents do feel he has been handled with kid gloves. Fully 69 per cent of Canadians think that the leadership race has been too easy and that he has not had to prove himself, including 57 per cent of Liberal supporters. A majority (53 per cent) agrees that Trudeau is nothing but media hype, though much of that comes from Conservatives (78 per cent, compared to 23 per cent of Liberals).
Perhaps worst of all, 73 per cent of Canadians agree that nobody would be interested in Trudeau or would consider him a serious candidate for the party’s leadership if he was not Pierre Trudeau’s son — and that includes nearly two-thirds of Grit supporters.
But it does not seem to be hurting him.
The polling numbers for the party have improved considerably. Ipsos’s poll shows that 41 per cent of Canadians think Trudeau would make the best prime minister, compared to 36 per cent for Harper and 23 per cent for Mulcair.
Trudeau also beat the other two on being someone Canadians can trust, who will get things done, has what it takes to lead Canada and wants to be prime minister for the right reasons. He also leads on having a vision for Canada they can support, would lead an open, responsible, and ethical government, would represent Canada best on the world stage, has values that represent their own, and would promote democracy. He had the lowest number on the question of having a hidden agenda (25 per cent think he does, compared to 50 per cent who think Harper does).
He was only beaten by Harper on the question of managing the economy in tough times, but did score better than Mulcair.
These are strong numbers, all the more remarkable considering that Canadians agree that a lot of Trudeau’s appeal is undeserved. It makes Trudeau hard to tear down: how will the other parties manage to effectively go after him when Canadians appear to agree with their likely lines of attack — but do not seem to think they matter?
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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