Liberal Leadership Selection Has Potential to Redefine Voter Pools

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Our study tested ten potential candidates to see whether Canadians would be likely to vote Liberal in the event the candidate were leader. According to Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson, “At this early stage in the federal Liberal leadership race, without even a single official candidate, impressions of various potential candidates are undoubtedly soft. These results are a sort of starting grid in terms of public opinion. While these results are not strictly among those who will be selecting the next Liberal leader and therefore not a true measure of the race itself, they provide an indication of how the party’s pool of potential voters may be impacted.”



  • Justin Trudeau galvanizes the most support among the candidates tested. One in three (33%) would be certain (10%) or likely (23%) to vote Liberal if Mr. Trudeau were Liberal leader. Roughly one in five (19%) would be unlikely to vote Liberal with Mr. Trudeau at the helm, with 26% saying they would be certain to not vote Liberal if Mr. Trudeau were leader. A further one in five (21%) did not offer an opinion. Mr. Trudeau could also likely count on the support of 75% of self-identified Liberals, along with 42% of New Democrats, 14% of Conservatives, 22% of BQ supporters, and 29% of Green voters.  Residents east of the Prairies are most inclined to say they’d likely vote Liberal if Mr. Trudeau were leader, while men and women are equally likely to vote Liberal if Mr. Trudeau were leader.
  • After Mr. Trudeau, the numbers for each candidate become very similar and the proportion that reserves their opinion climbs. Among all others we tested, several are within one or two percentage points of each other in terms of the proportions that are likely to vote Liberal.  Nationally, 18% of Canadians are certain or likely to vote Liberal if Marc Garneau were leader, with Denis Coderre (17%), John Manley (16%), Gerard Kennedy (16%), David McGuinty (15%), Mark Carney (14%), Dominic Leblanc (13%), Martha Hall Findlay (12%) and Naheed Nenshi (10%) all ranked fairly tightly together.
  • The Liberal leadership choice clearly has the potential to attract new supporters and the potential to lose some current Liberal supporters. These early numbers show that Mr. Trudeau represents both the greatest potential to draw support from other parties and the greatest potential to maintain current supporters. That being said, since so many Canadians have yet to form an opinion about the other Candidates, it would be premature to conclude their potential to attract supporters is limited to what we are measuring today.  Overall, the majority of Canadians indicate being no more likely to vote Liberal regardless of the leader being discussed.  That being said, for any leader in question, about one out of five Canadians – between 16% and 24% – indicates that they would likely change their partisan support. This suggest that there are potentially quite a significant number of votes for any party to gain or lose, based upon the evolution and outcome of the federal Liberal leadership race.

In terms of national voting intentions:

  • Nationally, the NDP and Conservatives are neck and neck. Over the last two weeks, the NDP stand at 32%, the Conservatives 31%, the Liberals 23%, the Greens 7%, and the BQ 5%.
  • The NDP continue to hold a strong lead in Quebec. The NDP is at 36%, the BQ 21%, the Liberals 19%, the Conservatives 15%, and Greens 8%.
  • A tight three-way race exists in Ontario. The Conservatives are at 33%, the NDP 32%, the Liberals 29%, and the Green 6%.
  • The NDP and Conservatives are fighting a close battle in BC. The NDP stands at 36%, the Conservatives 33%, the Liberals 20%, and the Greens 10%.
  • The Conservatives are well in front on the Prairies. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Conservatives are at 47%, the NDP 30%, the Liberals 18%, and the Greens 5%. In Alberta, the Conservatives stand at 62%, the NDP 16%, the Liberals 13%, and the Greens 8%.
  • In Atlantic Canada, the NDP and Liberals are neck and neck. The NDP stands at 36%, the Liberals 35%, the Conservatives 22%, and the Greens 5%.


Each week, Harris/Decima interviews just over 1000 Canadians through teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey. The most recent data (on Liberal leadership) were gathered between June 14 and June 18, 2012 for just over 1,000 completes. A sample of the same size has a margin of error of 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The vote intention data was gathered over two weeks between June 7 and June 18, 2012, for just over 2,000 completes. A sample of the same size has a margin of error of 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.