6 months in, Justin Trudeau's Liberals still riding high in polls

Six months after winning a majority government in last year's federal vote, the Liberals continue to poll above their showing on election night. But the honeymoon can't last forever.

Is there an end in sight for the Liberal 'honeymoon'?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still polling above his party's results in last year's federal election. (Codie McLachlan/Canadian Press)

Six months after winning a majority government in last year's federal vote, the Liberals continue to poll above their showing on election night. But is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's honeymoon with voters over?

Short answer: no.

Long answer? Well, still no. In fact, there are very few negative indicators for Trudeau's Liberals in the polls in this early stage of their four-year mandate. But there are some signs that the Liberals may face some headwinds in the future. 

The party has averaged 46.5 per cent support in polls conducted over the last month, an increase of seven points over the Liberals' result on election night. Both the Conservatives and New Democrats have taken a step backwards, the Tories down three points to 29 per cent and the NDP down seven points to 12.5 per cent.

The Liberals have experienced gains throughout the country, modest on the Prairies but significant in British Columbia and Quebec. Not coincidentally, those were two provinces the NDP was counting on for a strong showing, and it is from the NDP that the Liberals have poached the most new supporters.

Other indicators are also broadly positive for the Liberals. A majority of respondents to a recent EKOS poll said they felt the country and government were heading in the right direction, whereas a majority were saying the opposite in the last months of Stephen Harper's tenure.

EKOS also found that trust in the government is at its highest level since the 1970s.

Trudeau winning the popularity contest

Six months after Trudeau was elevated from leader of the third party to the leader of the incoming governing party, his personal approval ratings remain high.

A recent poll by Forum Research pegged his approval rating to be 58 per cent, with just 33 per cent of Canadians polled disapproving of him. The source of his popularity is his ability to draw support from across the aisle — a majority of NDP and Green voters also approve of the prime minister.

His numbers have improved while in that job. The last poll conducted by Forum before the October vote put Trudeau's approval rating at 48 per cent, with 39 per cent disapproval.

On who Canadians prefer to be prime minister, Trudeau continues to poll head-and-shoulders over his rivals. He has averaged 48 per cent support on this question over the last month, followed at length by Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose at 15 per cent and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair at 10 per cent.

Nothing but blue skies?

The strength of Trudeau's polling numbers are considerable. The only other Canadian leader with comparable numbers would be Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. But the key to Wall's success has been durability — his party was just elected for the third consecutive time earlier this month with a big majority government, despite having governed the province since 2007.

Can Trudeau hope to match Wall's political endurance?

While Trudeau's approval ratings remain high, his disapproval ratings have inched upwards since dipping after the election. And while a majority of Canadians say the country and the government is heading in the right direction, that proportion has fallen from its post-election highs.

Other issues may come to prove more trying for the Liberals as their time in office increases. The party may have so far avoided some public opinion pitfalls on the doctor-assisted dying legislation, but its defence of a sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia despite human rights concerns is less popular.

And in Ambrose and Mulcair, Trudeau faces an interim leader and another leader on his way out. Trudeau may not stack up so positively against whoever the Conservatives and New Democrats next choose to lead them — but Canadians won't know who that will be for more than a year, perhaps as many as two years in the case of the NDP. 

So for now, in the polls at least, the Liberal skies look sunny and clear. But that doesn't mean that storm clouds aren't lurking somewhere over the horizon.

The poll by EKOS Research was conducted for iPolitics between April 14 and 15, interviewing 1,176 adult Canadians via interactive voice response. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The poll by Forum Research was conducted for the Toronto Star between April 4 and 5, interviewing 1,455 adult Canadians via interactive voice response. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.


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