Though Justin Trudeau's Liberals remain ahead of the pack in the latest federal poll, it seems the new leader's honeymoon may be wearing off.
The survey, conducted by EKOS Research for iPolitics earlier this month and surveying 2,900 Canadians, found support for the Liberals to be at 30 per cent, a drop of eight points since EKOS's last poll (April 30-May 2). This is not the first survey to show some weakness in Liberal support from the heady days just after Trudeau's leadership victory.
UPDATE: EKOS also released the results of a late May poll Thursday that had not previously been ublicized. That poll had the Liberals at 35 per cent, the Conservatives at 26 per cent and the NDP at 21 per cent. This further suggests the Liberal decline is part of a trend, while the Conservative and NDP movement has been within the margin of error
The Conservatives had 28 per cent support in the poll, up two points, while New Democrats were down one point to 23 per cent. The Greens had nine per cent and the Bloc Québécois were at six per cent support among decided voters. Undecided voters numbered about nine per cent of all of those surveyed.
The poll found the Tories and Liberals to be tied at 31 per cent apiece among men, but among women, Liberals were ahead with 30 per cent support to 27 per cent for the NDP and only 25 per cent for Conservatives — one reason why the party took pains to emphasize the new women named to cabinet in this week's shuffle.
The Liberals appear to have taken their biggest hit in Ontario and Quebec, with drops of nine and 11 points, respectively. The party remains in front in both seat-rich provinces, however, with 33 per cent in Ontario and 29 per cent in Quebec. Conservatives trail in Ontario with 31 per cent while the Bloc placed second in Quebec with 27 per cent support.
The Quebec numbers are particularly interesting, as both Liberals and NDP took statistically significant steps backwards (the New Democrats were down eight points to 23 per cent). The Bloc Québécois was the big winner, with an eight point gain. That might be an anomaly of the poll, though, as there has not been much of anything going on in the province that could explain the Bloc's increase in support.
And despite the slumping national numbers, there remains some good news for Trudeau. While his lead over Stephen Harper's Tories is within the margin of error, he does have the advantage among older voters: 33 to 28 per cent among those between the ages of 45 and 64, and 36 to 34 per cent among those over the age of 64. These are otherwise known as “people who vote.”
In addition, the numbers need to be placed in context.
It does seem the Trudeau honeymoon is on the wane, with polls no longer putting the party near the 40 per cent mark they were enjoying in May. But if we look at EKOS's poll from this time in 2012, when Trudeau's leadership run was just a rumour, the Liberals have still made some stellar inroads. In that poll, the party had only 20 per cent support — compared to 30 per cent for Conservatives and 32 per cent for the New Democrats (who were still in their own, Thomas Mulcair-inspired, honeymoon). In the last 12 months, the Liberals have picked up 10 points while Tories and the NDP have both slipped.
So, the modern version of Trudeaumania may be falling by the wayside to be replaced with a more modest enthusiasm for the new Liberal leader. It was always unlikely that his numbers were going to remain at 40 per cent for very long. But he has managed to put the Liberal Party back on solid footing, while the Conservatives have yet to show that they are making any sort of comeback. The cabinet shuffle dominated the headlines for part of this week, only to be shoved aside by new allegations of the PMO keeping a revelatory email about the Duffy-Wright affair from the RCMP, and talk of "enemy lists."
In other words, though Trudeau is slipping in the polls Harper does not seem to be in a good position to take advantage.
Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers every week. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.
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