Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's disapproval rating among Canadians has jumped above the 50 per cent mark for the first time since the 2015 election, according to a new poll.
The Angus Reid Institute's latest survey, released Monday, found the political flak from Trudeau's recent trip to India and increasing worry over government spending has widened the gap in approval ratings between the Liberals and Andrew Scheer's Conservative Party. The firm now says Tories have a shot at winning a majority government.
If an election was held tomorrow, the poll said, 40 per cent of respondents who were decided or leaning voters would back the Tories while 30 per cent would opt for the Liberals. Nineteen per cent said they would vote for Jagmeet Singh's NDP.
The poll also found another possible bad omen for the federal Liberals. Fifty-one per cent of respondents — an all-time high — say it's time for a change in government.
Though that view is strongest among previous Conservative voters, ARI noted, 23 per cent of respondents who voted for the Liberals in 2015 also agreed with that statement.
That shift in the Liberal's base seems to be a key factor in the slip in popularity for Trudeau and the party, the polling firm said. While a majority of the Grit base still approves of the PM, 31 per cent of respondents who voted for the Liberals in 2015 now say they disapprove of the party's leader.
The polling firm's results suggest the Liberal Party's voter retention is weaker than the Tories'. Fifty-eight per cent of its past supporters say they would vote for the Grits again, according to the poll, compared to 86 per cent of the Conservative Party's past voters. Fifty-three per cent of respondents who voted for the NDP in 2015 would do the same in the next election.
Scheer seen as better leader on economy
And as Trudeau's approval ratings take a dip, (some) things are coming up Scheer.
The Conservative leader, who was elected to his party's helm last May, is seen as a stronger leader on issues such as crime, relations with the provinces, health care and the economy, the latter being the most important issue in Canada today to 26 per cent of respondents.
The government's latest budget, which predicted a deficit of $18.1 billion and offered no date for any return to balance, also contributed to the Liberals' woes. Twenty-nine per cent of ARI's respondents said government spending and deficits were the most pressing issues in Canada. The firm noted that concerns about deficits have increased throughout the government's term.
But despite the drop in Trudeau's approval rating, Scheer is still not considered the leader who would make the best prime minister.
Twenty-six per cent of respondents said Trudeau would make the best PM, while 22 opted for Scheer. Only seven per cent chose Singh.
While 38 per cent of respondents said they approved of Scheer, 34 per cent said they disapproved and 28 per cent said they "don't know."
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The Tory leader also doesn't have the support of the majority of millennials, a key demographic that helped push the Liberals to a majority government in 2015. Fifty-five per cent of that group still approves of the PM, the firm said.
ARI's survey was conducted online between March 6-15 among a sample of 5,423 Canadian adults. The firm said a similar survey would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.