04/11/2013 12:45 EDT | Updated 06/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Nanos Number: Trudeau's Support Coming At A Cost To Mulcair

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: An exclusive poll done by Nanos Research for Power & Politics reveals how Liberal leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau stacks up against Tom Mulcair and Stephen Harper.

The results show Trudeau's uptick in the polls is coming at the expense of the NDP leader.

The poll is a national Nanos RDD Crowdsource random survey of 1,002 Canadians conducted between April 4 and 8, 2013. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone through the proprietary Nanos Crowdsource sample and administered a survey online. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,002 Canadians is to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

On the question of who is the most inspiring leader, the poll suggests Trudeau is connecting with Canadians, with 30 per cent of Canadians choosing him as the most inspiring leader. Harper was second with 17.8 per cent and Mulcair third with 11.6 per cent. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May came a close fourth with 10.3 per cent and Bloc leader Daniel Paillé was last with 1.5 per cent.

"Justin Trudeau, his presence on the national stage, his performance during the federal leadership race has actually made him look as an inspiring leader, at least compared to the other choices," Nanos said on Power & Politics Wednesday.

But while Trudeau is seen as the most inspiring, the poll also shows Canadians believe he is lacking experience. Only 8.6 per cent of Canadians feel Trudeau has the best experience to lead the country, compared with 41 per cent for Harper,17.6 per cent for Mulcair, 3.6 per cent for May and 0.5 per cent for Paillé.

Nanos points out that the Conservatives have already been trying to take advantage of this by "hammering Trudeau for his lack of experience."

The new polls reveal that particular message resonates, he added. And when you weigh which of these factors is more important for a political leader, experience is the winner, Nanos said.

"Winning is not neccesarily a popularity contest. Stephen Harper has won not based on his personal popularity or hugability, he's won because people have gone into the ballot booth and have made what they believe is the least risky choice," Nanos said.

Leader branding

The other thing the new poll reveals is none of the party leaders or prospective party leaders have a real advantage when it comes to their brands.

Nanos Research asked who would make the best party leader, a question that shows the ability of a leader to manage their brand.

Harper is in front with 29.1 per cent, Trudeau comes second with 25.6 per cent, Mulcair is third at 17.5 per cent, May is fourth with 7.7 per cent and Paillé was fifth at 1.2 per cent.

"It's interesting that Canadians are projecting onto Trudeau a party leader that can be reasonably comparable in terms of performance compared to Stephen Harper," Nanos said.

Mulcair on the other hand, is weaker on this question.

Shared values

Politicians talk a lot about values, and Trudeau mentioned values a number of times in his speech at the Liberal showcase on Saturday.

When Nanos Research asked Canadians which leading politician has values most like them, the results show that Harper is in the lead with 26.3 per cent. Trudeau is second with 22.8 per cent and Mulcair is third with 16.2 per cent. May came fourth with 10.6 per cent and Paillé was last with 4.1 per cent.

These will be the numbers to watch going forward, Nanos said.

If that number starts to move for the Liberals it could show that Canadians don't think the Liberal party is connecting with them, Nanos said.

Overall, the polls suggest the leader that has suffered most from Trudeau's emergence is Mulcair, Nanos said.

"[Mulcair's] got to work on his personal brand. He has to assert himself. He is very aggressive, he is very forthright, he's a capable campaigner, but he's got to build his personal brand. Because right now on the personality front he's trailing both Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau," Nanos said.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

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