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Canadians Noticing Mulcair… and Warming to Him


[Ottawa – July 23, 2013] If there has been one issue plaguing Thomas Mulcair since he was elected Leader of the NDP more than a year ago, it is not the “Angry Tom” label used by his political opponents, nor it is his questionable driving tactics. Rather, it is simply that Canadians are not familiar with him. For months, when asked whether they approve or disapprove of his performance, nearly half of Canadians have not felt confident enough to express an opinion.

In this latest poll, however, we see evidence that Mr. Mulcair in beginning to penetrate public awareness and so far, he is producing more favourable impressions than negative ones. One-third of Canadians now approve of his performance, which slightly exceeds the 29 per cent who now disapprove of him. Love him or hate him, it seems that “Mulcair” is slowly becoming a household name. Indeed, the next time Mr. Mulcair asks “Don’t you know who I am?”, Canadians can confidently say “Yes”.

In contrast, Stephen Harper has made little headway in winning over the approval of his people. In fact, his disapproval rating has increased over three successive polls. Even at a time where his party is closing the gap with the resurrected Liberals, Mr. Harper has been unable to escape his 26-point approval rut and more than half of Canadians disapprove of him.

Turning to Justin Trudeau, we see mostly good news with a dash of bad news. For five consecutive polls, his approval rating has risen and he now rivals even the late Jack Layton, who consistently enjoyed the affection of nearly half of Canadians. Mr. Trudeau has also improved his awareness with Canada’s younger generations and those who are aware of him are giving him good approval ratings. Indeed, if Mr. Trudeau can improve his awareness even further, he may be able to sway the youth vote, an achievement that was key to Barack Obama’s success in both 2008 and 2012.

Mr. Trudeau’s disapproval rating, however, has surged seven points. It is not immediately clear what his behind this sudden rise in negativity, but it may simply be a product of increasing awareness. In any case, history has shown that approval is far more important than disapproval. Indeed, as Mr. Harper has proven, it is not disapproval that matters (indeed, Mr. Harper won a majority government with a 50-point disapproval rating), but it is a committed base of loyal approvers that means the difference between victory and defeat.

Another interesting finding is that Trudeau has succeeded in transcending his own base. In contrast to Mr. Harper who, while he remains a star within his own party, has found little in the way of approval outside his party ranks, Mr. Trudeau receives the approval of the plurality of both NDP and Green supporters. Only Conservative supporters have expressed disdain, with the majority disapproving of Mr. Trudeau.

Mr. Mulcair, meanwhile, fares quite well with Liberal and Bloc Québécois supporters, although Green Party enthusiasts are still not sure what to make of him. He has also improved his standing within his own party, alleviating concerns that arose in April when his in-party approval rating had fallen to 51 per cent. For now, Mr. Mulcair sits 10 points behind Mr. Trudeau in terms of approval, but if he can maintain his momentum, he may very well succeed in taking the mantle as the progressive alternative to the ruling Conservatives.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (July 23, 2013)

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