Donald Trump in the White House? Canadians are increasingly worried about it

A new poll shows that Canadians are growing increasingly concerned at the prospect of Donald Trump in the White House. But while Canadians widely agree that Trump would be bad for Canada, there is less agreement on the merits of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

78 per cent of Canadians say a Donald Trump presidency would be bad for Canada

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers an economic policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club on Monday. But just across the border, Canadians are giving him a thumbs down. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

A new poll suggests that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, with almost four out of every five Canadians saying a Trump White House would be bad for Canada.

In the survey, conducted by Insights West last week, 79 per cent of respondents said they are "very concerned" or "moderately concerned" about the possibility of the Republican nominee becoming the president of the United States.

By contrast, only 42 per cent said the same thing about his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. In addition, concern about a Clinton presidency was far less intense. Just 20 per cent said they were "very concerned," compared to 65 per cent who felt that way about a Trump victory.

Canadians widely believe that President Donald Trump would be bad for Canada. Fully 78 per cent of respondents said that a Trump presidency would be "bad" or "very bad" for Canada, an increase of 16 points from when Insights West polled on this question shortly after Donald Trump entered the race for the Republican nomination a year ago. Only 13 per cent of respondents thought President Trump would be good for Canada.

While there is far less worry about what the Democratic nominee would mean for Canada (and given the choice between the two, Canadians would opt for Clinton in a landslide), opinions on the former first lady and secretary of state are still divided. Just under half, or 47 per cent, of those polled thought that a victory by Hillary Clinton would be good for this country, while 37 per cent thought it would be bad for Canada.

This has changed markedly over the last year, with those thinking a Clinton presidency would be a boon for Canada down 10 points and those thinking it could be a problem up 17 points.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters before taking the stage for a campaign rally at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday. (Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times/Associated Press )

While Donald Trump has said he would pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if it cannot be renegotiated to his liking, Hillary Clinton's campaign has also been pushed closer to the anti-free-trade rhetoric of her erstwhile rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders.

Canadians tuned in

This concern about the U.S. presidential race has led to increased interest from Canadians: 48 per cent of respondents to the poll said they were following this election campaign more closely than ones in previous years. Just nine per cent said they were tuning out more.

Accordingly, Canadians also said that the media is not giving the U.S. vote too much coverage. A majority said that newspapers, television and radio have been giving the campaign the right amount of attention — or not enough.

That attention span, however, will be tested. The vote for the American presidency will finally be held on Nov. 8, only 91 short days from now.

The poll by Insights West was conducted between August 1 and 4, 2016, interviewing 1,002 adult Canadians via the internet. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 3.1 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.