The House

How long do political honeymoons last?

CBC polls analyst Eric Grenier is back to look at political honeymoons. Are they real? And if so, how quickly to they tend to come to an end?
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by crowds of hysteria as he leaves his closing news conference following the APEC summit in Manila, Philippines, on Thursday, November 19, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau's honeymoon appears to be in full swing. After capturing just under 40 per cent of the vote, the most recent post-election polls show that a majority of Canadians would now cast a ballot for the Liberal Party and consider Trudeau to be the best person to be prime minister. 

But honeymoons come to an end. When will Trudeau's begin to wane? We put the question to the CBC's polls analyst Éric Grenier.

Terry Milewski: How do you define a political honeymoon?

Éric Grenier: I define it as when your polling numbers are better than where they were on election night. And we're already seen that happening with the Liberal Party — there was one poll out that had them at over 50 per cent support, up about 15 points from the election. So I think we can safely say that Trudeau is in the midst, at least statistically, of a significant honeymoon period.

TM: Like all good things, when do they come to an end?

EG: It depends. Jean Chretien, during his tenure, had polling numbers always way above where the Liberals were on election night, and then they'd come down during an election campaign. There's other examples that were a bit shorter. Harper's honeymoon when he first came was significantly shorter, maybe about seven months. When [Pierre] Trudeau came in in 1980 again when he defeated Clark, his polling numbers were up for about a year. Mulroney in 1984, 1985, his numbers were higher for about a year. It can usually take about six months to 1.5 years before your numbers come down — unless, of course, you're Jean Chretien!

TM: What about when the bad news starts coming? Does that change the picture?

EG: There's the potential for erosion of the honeymoon. Going into the election, the Liberals' position on Iraq and on refugees weren't necessarily very popular, but they also weren't top-of-mind issues. Now they are. We're seeing in some polling that was done since the campaign that people still aren't on board with the idea of bringing that many refugees in a quick period of time. They are on board with the bombing mission in Iraq. So if those issues are going to be the ones people are really focusing on, it does have the potential to eat away at Trudeau's honeymoon.

TM: Can you predict how long Trudeau's honeymoon may last?

EG: You're usually looking at a little under a year, so maybe until next summer. But again, he could always be one who bucks the trend and his numbers are either down by Christmas, or his numbers could survive for several years. 

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