Conservative attack ads aimed unapologetically at Justin Trudeau have not had any impact on national voting intentions, as federal Liberals gain ground and move ahead of the Tories.
A new poll from Ipsos-Reid for Postmedia and Global TV (April 26-30, surveying 1,059 online panellists) found the Liberals under Trudeau to have the support of 35 per cent of Canadians, a gain of three points since Ipsos-Reid was last in the field just prior to his leadership victory. Conservatives had 32 per cent, up one point, while New Democrats were down two points to 25 per cent support.
If Stephen Harper was hoping Conservatives could blunt the effect of Trudeau’s arrival as Liberal leader, the early indications are that they failed. In fact, of the 39 per cent of respondents who said they saw the ads, Liberals held a 10-point advantage over the governing Tories. The two parties were tied among Canadians who hadn't seen the commercials.
Not only has the ad campaign apparently backfired in the polls, it appears to have helped boost Liberal fundraising. Trudeau announced in a video released Monday that the party had raised over $1 million from 14,000 donors since he became Liberal leader less than a month ago.
But it comes as no surprise that poll respondents reacted negatively to the attack ad. Other surveys have shown similar results, only for the message contained in the ads to seep its way into how viewers perceive those on the receiving end of the attacks. It is possible that, over time, the ads will take their toll on the new Liberal leader.
However, the practised casualness of the video in which Trudeau announced the fundraising milestone takes the Conservative attack head-on. Instead of trying to prove the attack ads’ claims wrong, as Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff tried and failed to do, Trudeau is attempting to own them. Young and inexperienced? Rather than appearing in a suit-and-tie in an attempt to give him more gravitas, Trudeau wore a t-shirt and cargo shorts. The message is clear — this is supposed to be a different kind of leader, and the Liberals think that is what Canadians want.
By one measure, though, the Conservative ad campaign had some success. A quarter of respondents said the ads made them less likely to vote for the Liberal Party (though only 8 per cent of Liberal supporters said so). But most of those would have come from voters already in the Conservative camp. And, generally speaking, Ipsos-Reid said the ads performed poorly compared to others put through their market research tests.
Perhaps, this time, the attack on a new Liberal leader will fall flat.
That would be bad news for the prime minister if these current numbers hold. The Liberals edged out the Tories in British Columbia, were within two points of Conservatives in Ontario, and held statistically significant leads in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. That is the kind of broad electoral coalition that could put Trudeau in the prime minister’s office by 2015.
Pushed to the side in this equation is the NDP, whose support has fallen back to 2011 levels in British Columbia, the Prairies, and Atlantic Canada. The party is down a few points in Ontario and has shed almost half of the new support the party captured in Quebec. With these sorts of numbers, the best that Thomas Mulcair could hope for is a position of influence in a minority legislature.
However, 2015 is a long way off. Both Harper and Mulcair have plenty of time to make their parties more appealing to voters once again, and take advantage of any stumbles Trudeau might make over the next two years. But both would rather be leading the pack than having to play catch-up.
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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Coming For MacKay
Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay (left) is chased by Liberal MP Justin Trudeau in a motorized wheelchair during a wheelchair race relay on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Twenty-five MPs and senators used a wheelchair for the day in support of the Canadian Paraplegic Association's Spinal Cord Injury and CPA awareness month.
Come At Me, Bro
Justin Trudeau trains at Pan Am Boxing Club in Winnipeg on Friday Feb. 1, 2013.
Justin Trudeau & co. making faces.
Justin Trudeau splits his pants while pushing the "scrum machine" in support of Prostate Cancer Canada in Toronto Thursday, July 21, 2011.
Justin Trudeau gets his geek on at Montreal Comiccon in September 2012.
So Long 'Stache
Justin Trudeau has his moustache shaved off to raise money for the Judy LaMarsh Fund, that supports female candidates, at the Liberal Party convention in Ottawa on Saturday, January 14, 2012.
All For One, One For All
Justin Trudeau all dressed up for the Montreal Movember Gala in 2010.
Pierre Trudeau's sons, Sacha, left, and Justin, tackle their mother's paperboy in Ottawa in this undated photo.
'Family... And A Cow.'
He Can Certainly Take A Punch
Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau delivers a right hook to his older brother Justin during a play fight in 1980 at Ottawa airport as the boys await a flight with the return of their father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau.
Be Honest With Me, Who's Cuter?
Justin Trudeau strikes a pose with an adorable baby.
A Very Furry Christmas
Justin Trudeau poses with his family on his 2010 Christmas card.
Former Liberal MP Ken Dryden, left, and Justin Trudeau play table hockey as they visit Sun Youth, a community organization, Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 in Montreal.
Yanking Their Chain
Then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, left, watches as his 11-year-old son Justin swings on a chain during a tour of an old fort in the Omani town of Nizwa Dec. 2, 1983. Trudeau and Justin spent the day visiting the towns of Jebel and Nizwa 165 kilometres south of Muscat.
Justin Trudeau in Muskoka, Ont.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, centre, has his cowbay taken by his son Xavier, 4 years-old, while his wife Sophie Gregoire, second from left, holds daughet Ella-Grace, 3 years-old, while they attend the party's annual Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Saturday, July 7, 2012. This is the 100th anniversary of the Stampede.
Like Mother, Like Son
Eleven-month-old Justin Trudeau, urged on by his mother Margaret Trudeau, crawls up the steps of an aircraft in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 1972 to meet his father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau on his return from Britain.
Cutting A Rug
Justin Trudeau dances with wife Sophie Grégoire before his speech at the Liberal showcase on April 6, 2013.
Next: What Is Pierre Trudeau Doing?
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing what someone called his "Mandrake the Magician outfit," walks down the grandstand steps to present the Grey Cup trophy to the victorious Montreal Alouettes in this Nov. 28, 1970 photo.
Hey, It Was The '70s
Pierre Trudeau leans over to kiss an unidentified young lady to the seeming surprise of his recent bride Margaret. Trudeau and Margaret spent Saturday March 27, 1971 at maple tree farm here near Montreal at a sugaring out party.
Fur Wasn't Always Controversial
Pierre Trudeau accompanies Margaret Sinclair, at the annual Governor General's skating party for members of Parliament in Ottawa Jan. 14, 1970.
Ditto For Seal Hunting
Pierre Trudeau looks through the scope of his rifle while on a seal hunting trip in Baffin Island's Clear Water Fjord, July 29, 1968.
A Leg Up
Pierre Trudeau shoes off his frisbee catching style while waiting to board his plane in Vancouver May 16, 1979.
Calisthenics Were Still Cool
Pierre Trudeau had no trouble keeping himself occupied during a break from a boat trip down the Northwest Territories, Nahanni River, Monday Aug. 4, 1970.
Pierre Trudeau takes a wary look at an ice crevice, decides to chance it and makes the leap successfully during a midnight seal- hunting expedition at Clearwater Fjord in Canada's Arctic, July 29, 1968.
When in France...
Pierre Trudeau receives a kiss from his wife Margaret during a tour of St. Pierre, France, Aug. 1971.
Pierre Trudeau in Guayana 1974.
Friendlier With Reporters Than You Know Who
Pierre Trudeau sticks his tongue out to Canadian Press Photographer Peter Bregg during the 1972 election campaign. This photo was taken aboard the campaign plane where such antics were considered off the record. The photo was not made available until after the death of the prime minister
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dances in Montreal Oct. 21, 1979.
Acting like a Beatle
Pierre Trudeau sprints away from a crowd of female admirers in Ottawa April 22, 1968. They surrounded him outside the Parliament Buildings on his third day in office.
Posing with a Beatle
John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, meet with Pierre Trudeau Dec. 24, 1969 in Ottawa.
'I See Cigars And Rum In Our Future'
Pierre Trudeau looks on as Cuban President Fidel Castro gestures during a visit to a Havana housing project in this Jan. 27, 1976 photo.
Acting Out A Tory Fantasy?
Pierre Trudeau pretending to strangle himself with a tie given to him as he was presented with honorary membership in the National Press Club in Ottawa Sept. 17, 1968.
Pierre Trudeau amuses a group of people in Fortune while on tour through Newfoundland, Aug. 3, 1971.
Oh Captain! My Captain!
Pierre Trudeau takes a ride on the Bluenose, Aug. 1972.
Nice Form Pierre
Pierre Trudeau works out at an Oshawa health club during a break in his 1968 election campaign.
Are The Flowers Too Much?
Pierre Trudeau, with a garland around his neck and a Hindu greeting symbol in paste on his forhead, rides a camel Jan 12, 1971 in the village of Benares, India, where he dedicated a water well.
I Do Love Flowers
Pierre Trudeau kids around with a carnation while waiting for voting results at the Liberal convention in this April 7, 1968 photo.
Indiana Jones Of The Great White North
Pierre Trudeau tries cracking a dog sled whip while visiting Baker Lake in the Arctic, March 10, 1970.
Never Afraid To Dance
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Sheik Yamani, left, and Pierre Trudeau, right, dance a traditional Arabian dance while camping out in the desert in Madein Saleh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 18, 1980.
Or Rock A Skirt
Pierre Trudeau, seen here taking part in Maori ceremonial dance in Wellington, New Zealand May 13, 1970.
Got The Moves
Pierre Trudeau does a dance after his campaign bus broke down in Montreal June 6, 1968.
Feather In The Cap
Wearing a "feather in his cap," Pierre Trudeau attended the official opening May 20, 1983, of an archaeological excavation in Hull, Que.
Ballet: Act 1
Pierre Trudeau, shown performing his famous pirouette during a May 7, 1977, picture session at Buckingham Palace in London, England.
Ballet: Act 2
Pierre Trudeau, in a moment of joy over patriation of Canada's constitution, preformed his now famous pirouette at Uplands Airport on April 18, 1982 following the Queens's departure for London after the 4-day state visit which climaxed with the proclamation of the Constitution Act.
He Got It From His Father
Pierre Trudeau is saluted by RCMP Officer as he carries son Justin to Rideau Hall in 1973.
Next: Justin Trudeau Through The Years
Prime Minister Trudeau and his then-wife Margaret leave the city's Notre Dame Basilica Sunday afternoon after the christening of their 22-day old infant Justin Pierre James, Jan. 16, 1972. Tasseled shawls kept the baby hidden from photographers and the 10-degree-below-zero weather.
March 1979 photo of the Trudeau children: Michel (front), Alexandre (Sacha) and Justin (rear).
It was a big day for Dad, but a long day for the three Trudeau children. Left to right, Justin, Michel and Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau attended the swearing in ceremonies of their father Pierre Elliott Trudeau as Prime Minister March 3, 1980 at Government House.