The summer has been far from a quiet one in Canadian politics, but nevertheless polls are showing that support for the federal parties remains static. And for the Liberals, who have been ahead in the polls since Justin Trudeau became leader, that is a positive sign.
The latest weighted average of all federal polls released over the summer show that the Liberals remain in front with 36 per cent, unchanged from the last aggregation that included polling up to June 23. That is also where the Liberals stood in May, shortly after Mr. Trudeau's leadership victory.
The Conservatives picked up a single point and have 30 per cent support, while the New Democrats remain stuck at 23 per cent, where they have been since the spring. The Bloc Québécois and Greens follow with 5 per cent apiece, a drop of one point for Elizabeth May's party.
Steady Liberal lead
The Liberal lead in the polls has been remarkably consistent, with the party placing first in 19 consecutive national polls and every poll since Mr. Trudeau was named leader. Both the Conservatives and New Democrats have struggled as a result, with the Tories placing under 30 per cent in six of the last nine polls and the NDP under 25 per cent in the last five. But exactly where the parties stand has been less consistent: while the Conservatives have polled in a relatively tight range of between 26 and 32 per cent support since April, the NDP has been pegged between 19 and 28 per cent and the Liberals between 29 and 44 per cent support.
But the six-point lead for the Liberals in the aggregate does not translate into a seat advantage, with the party likely able to win about 115 seats with these numbers – tying them with the Conservatives. The NDP would likely win about 71 seats, the Bloc could retain their five, and the Greens could win two. Compared to the June seat projection, this represents a drop of five seats for the Liberals and an increase of three for the Tories.
The Liberals would have an easier time winning a plurality on the 338-seat map that will be in use in the 2015 election, however. They should be able to win around 131 seats to 126 for the Conservatives and 77 for the New Democrats. The Liberals benefit from the 15 new seats in Ontario, picking up 10 of them.
Tories just behind Liberals in Ontario
Mr. Trudeau remains the favourite in Ontario, leading with 39 per cent. The Conservatives are up to 34 per cent while the NDP has slipped to 20 per cent in the province. The Liberals have led or been tied for the lead in 15 of 18 polls in Ontario since getting their new leader, while the Tories have consistently registered in the mid-30s. The NDP, however, has been at 23 per cent or lower in 14 of those 18 surveys.
In Quebec, where the Liberals have led or been tied for the lead in 21 of the 22 polls under Mr. Trudeau, the party has slipped three points to 37 per cent support. The NDP is up two to 28 per cent (they have been below 30 per cent in five of the last six polls) while the Bloc remains in third at 20 per cent. The BQ appears to be struggling, as they have registered below their 2011 support in the last four polls, including two by Quebec-based pollsters. The Conservatives remain well behind at 12 per cent.
Stephen Harper has rebounded in Atlantic Canada, however, up nine points since June – the largest increase anywhere. The Conservatives still trail in second with 28 per cent, however, though that is a far cry from where they had previously been. They have been pegged at 26 per cent or more in the last four polls after slumping to 22 per cent or lower in the 14 of the previous 15 surveys. The Liberals lead here with an average of 45 per cent support, while the NDP has fallen to third with 24 per cent.
The New Democrats' only lead comes in British Columbia, where they share it with the Liberals at 31 per cent apiece. That represents a three-point gain for the NDP since June. The Conservatives have fallen to 27 per cent, while the Greens are at 11 per cent support – their best in the country.
In Alberta and the Prairies, the Conservatives have not relinquished their towering lead. They have 56 per cent support in Alberta and 42 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, putting them well ahead of the Liberals and NDP, who remain second and third respectively in the region.
On a personal level, Mr. Trudeau still has the best numbers of the three leaders, with an approval rating hovering in the mid-40s and a disapproval rating in the mid-30s. Mr. Harper's approval stands at only about 30 per cent to 60 per cent disapproval, while Thomas Mulcair's approval and disapproval ratings both sit in the mid-30s. For all three, this is generally unchanged since the spring. Questions on who would make the best Prime Minister generally mirror the voting intentions, with Mr. Trudeau comfortably ahead of Mr. Harper.
Where those numbers will be in a few months' time will be a major test for the Liberal leader. Both Mr. Mulcair and Michael Ignatieff were leading in the polls at around this stage of their leadership before dropping back to second and eventually third place (Stéphane Dion's honeymoon was shorter). But both of these leaders led by narrower margins than does Mr. Trudeau.
The last three federal opponents to surge past the Conservatives during their honeymoon phase have subsequently faltered. Will Justin Trudeau break that streak?
ThreeHundredEight.com's vote projection model aggregates all publicly released polls, weighing them by sample size, date, and the polling firm's accuracy record. The seat projection model makes individual projections for all ridings in the country, based on the provincial and regional shifts in support since the 2011 election. Projections are subject to the margins of error of the opinion polls included in the model, as well as the unpredictable nature of politics at the riding level.
Éric Grenier writes about politics and polls at ThreeHundredEight.com .