While the Liberals have consistently bested all other political parties in the polls the entire year, calling an election today wouldn’t leave them in any better standing than they currently enjoy, according to a new poll from Ipsos.
“It’s like the ‘Blursday’ of political polling. I mean, it’s the same thing month after month after month after month where we see the Liberals holding on to a slight lead,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, referring to an online meme.
“They haven’t trailed any other political party for the entire year. But where they are is not enough to, I would say, call an election with certainty that they’re going to be able to win a majority.”
In the latest Ipsos polling, the Liberals rounded off the year with support from 35 per cent of those polled, giving them a slight lead over the Conservatives, who pulled in 32 per cent support.
If an election result were to mirror that polling, the Liberals would secure a minority — putting them in no stronger of a position than the one they hold today.
The NDP would still be in a position to prop up the Liberals, based on the polls. The party is currently polling in third place, with 18 per cent of the vote, while the Bloc Quebecois has dipped to just 7 per cent support after besting the NDP during the 2019 federal election. The Green Party is also polling around 7 per cent.
In addition to that, the areas where the support has picked up is generally where the Liberals already have seats. Bricker said that this reality makes an election call less appealing, from a strategic perspective, given that the current support levels don’t point to a majority win for the Liberals.
“What they’re doing is just better in the seats that they already have, rather than expanding to a new collection of seats that would put them in a position to form a majority,” Bricker said.
“So unless you have that going for you, there’s really no reason to call an election, particularly when you have a minority government [where] opposition parties are prepared to allow you to govern the way that you want to govern.”
Much of what has earned the Liberals their staying power in the polls can be attributed to their handling of the pandemic, Bricker said.
“The way that the government responded to the pandemic early on, particularly when it came to making sure that people were able to pay their bills through the various programs that they put in place, the public basically supported that approach,” he said.
However, he said the public appears to be approaching the government as a sort of “public service agency” as opposed to a political entity — which means Canadians’ happiness with the handling of the pandemic isn’t necessarily translating into a boost in the polls for the Liberals.
“So what we’re seeing right now is the public responding to what government is doing almost like it’s a public service agency, as opposed to being a political agency. So even though the government is performing well in terms of dealing with this, it really hasn’t boosted their political support that much,” explained Bricker.
“The surprising part is that even though we see that the prime minister’s approval levels are up, his party’s support level is not up that much.”
Over the course of 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating skyrocketed by 13 points since February, landing him an approval rate of 56 per cent.
That figure is “almost as good as what he was doing in the first year of his first term,” said Bricker.
“So he’s actually looking pretty strong in terms of personal appeal. Now, whether that is a reflection of people actually being satisfied with what he’s doing or hoping that that he’s going to be providing the leadership that we need right now, it all adds up to the same thing, which is really strong approval levels for the prime minister.”
Trudeau’s approval ratings are the highest in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia — but plummet below 40 per cent in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
Ipsos also found that while Trudeau, businesses and hospitals are getting rave reviews from Canadians in terms of their handling of the pandemic, one organization has fallen behind: long-term care homes.
“If there’s an agenda that’s going to emerge from this pandemic, an agenda for change, it’s probably going to relate to that,” Bricker said.
The pandemic hit long-term care homes particularly hard, with the vulnerable population residing within these facilities accounting for a disproportionate share of the deaths.
“That’s something that Canadians are horrified by. It’s something that they believe should be addressed and fixed,” Bricker said.
“I would expect that you’re going to see governments act on that when they get out of dealing with this emergency situation.”
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14, 2020, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.
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