Liberals hold post-election gains in summer polling

The latest quarterly polling report suggests that the Liberals continue to hold on to the new support they gained after last year's election — support that has primarily come at the expense of the NDP.

Latest quarterly report shows Liberals still holding wide lead, NDP slipping

Average of federal polls conducted between June 1 and August 31, 2016.

A year after the Liberals began the 2015 federal election campaign in third place, support for the party is holding firm — maintaining the gains the Liberals made in the immediate aftermath of last fall's vote.

Over the last three months, the Liberals have averaged 47.3 per cent support in federal polls, representing a gain of 7.8 points since the October election. Compared to the previous quarter, however, the Liberals are up just 0.6 points. This suggests that the party's support has leveled off and that —10 months after being sworn into power — the initial Liberal "honeymoon" has settled into a new normal.

The Conservatives also saw their support hold steady over the last three months, with an average of 28.9 per cent support. That's down three points from the last election, but virtually unchanged from where the party stood for the previous six months.

The New Democrats, however, continue to see their support slide. The party has averaged 13 per cent over the last three months, down 6.7 points from the last election and the third consecutive quarter of decline. 

Both opposition parties lack a permanent leader, leaving the field open to the Liberals. Justin Trudeau's approval rating has increased over the last three months by more than five points, to an average of 61.8 per cent over the last three months. His disapproval rating has dropped nearly three points to 31.1 per cent.

On the opposite side of the aisle, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose has seen her approval ratings improve dramatically. It has increased by over eight points over the last quarter to 37.7 per cent, while 32.3 per cent of Canadians say they disapprove of Ambrose.

Tom Mulcair's disapproval rating has jumped by almost seven points to an average of 40.4 per cent. With an average approval of 36.2 per cent, that gives him a net negative rating — something Mulcair has not experienced outside of a few individual polls since first becoming leader of the NDP in 2012.

Liberals make further inroads in Quebec

The most significant gains the Liberals have made since the last election have been in Quebec, where the party has averaged 50.6 per cent support over the last three months. That is up almost 15 points from the election, and an increase of nearly three points since the last quarter.

The party's recent caucus meeting in Saguenay, Quebec, where the Liberals unexpectedly won a seat last October, is emblematic of the Liberals' outreach to the province. A recent CROP poll put the Liberals in first place among Quebec's francophones by 38 points.

The Liberals also continue to make gains in British Columbia. The party leads there with an average of 47.1 per cent support, up 12 points from the last election and two points from the previous quarter.

In the Prairies, the Liberals have jumped into first place with 42.5 per cent support. Elsewhere, however, the Liberals' support has decreased slightly over the last quarter, to 59.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 49.8 per cent in Ontario, and 30.3 per cent in Alberta.

All of those tallies are nevertheless better than the Liberals' electoral performance last fall.

Conservatives rebounding in Ontario

The Conservatives remain stuck below their levels of support from the last election. Their most significant decreases have occurred in some of the parts of the country where they had the most to lose: Alberta, the Prairies, and British Columbia.

Compared to the last election, the Conservatives are down 3.9 points in Alberta to 55.7 per cent, 4.8 points in British Columbia to 25.1 per cent, and 4.9 points in the Prairies to 37.8 per cent. Only in Alberta do the Tories still hold a lead.

The party is trending upwards, however, in Ontario. Though, at 32.8 per cent, the Conservatives are still polling below their electoral haul last year, the party has made gains over the last two quarters.

Two factors may be helping the Conservatives in Ontario: the unpopularity of the provincial Liberal government, and the preponderance of contestants hailing from Ontario in the federal party's leadership race. Three of the four official contenders (Michael Chong, Tony Clement, and Kellie Leitch) come from Ontario.

NDP continues to struggle

It is no coincidence that the New Democrats have lost the most support in the two provinces that the Liberals have made the greatest gains: British Columbia and Quebec. In B.C., the NDP is down 8.4 points since the election to 17.6 per cent. In Quebec, the New Democrats have dropped 10.4 points, putting them down to just 15 per cent.

The New Democrats have dropped in three consecutive quarters in Quebec as well as Ontario where, with the exception of Alberta, the NDP's support is at its lowest in the country: 11.3 per cent.

If an election were held today, the NDP would struggle to achieve the 12 seats needed for official party status.

Greens stagnate in B.C.

The Greens, who have held steady over the last three months at 5.1 per cent nationwide (up 1.7 points over the last election), have seen their support drop two points and back to last October's levels in British Columbia. The party has averaged 8.3 per cent there.

The party's second-strongest region, Atlantic Canada, where the Greens have 6.9 per cent support, also happens to be the only other part of Canada where the Greens have representation at the provincial level (in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick). 

Bloc wobbles at new support level

The Bloc Québécois averaged 15.2 per cent support in Quebec over the last three months, good enough for second place in the province. The party is down 4.2 points from its election performance. And though the party has dropped over the last quarter, this was after a quarter in which they made gains — suggesting the Bloc may have reached its new range of support in the mid-teens.

This article reviews trends in national public opinion surveys, and includes all polls conducted and published by different pollsters between June 1 and August 31, 2016. Methodology, sample size and margin of error if one can be stated vary from survey to survey and have not been individually verified.

About the Author

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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