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Conservatives miss out on post-leadership bounce with Scheer: poll

By Derek Abma      

‘It isn’t a concern right now. He still has two years to define himself in contrast to the prime minister,’ says Forum’s Lorne Bozinoff.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. The Conservatives have not gained any ground with Canadian voters since Andrew Scheer became leader, according to a new poll from Forum Research, while Liberal support has increased. The Hill Times photographs by Jake Wright

The newness of Andrew Scheer’s leadership of the Conservative Party alone isn’t making him a favourite to win the next election just yet and he’s got work to do familiarizing himself with voters if he’s going to challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019, according to a new public opinion poll.

The latest numbers from Forum Research, conducted a week after the May 27 leadership convention and shared exclusively with The Hill Times, shows support for the Conservatives among decided or leaning voters has slipped one percentage points since late April—before Mr. Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) became leader—to 34 per cent in polling done between June 6 and 8.

Mr. Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) Liberals, meanwhile, have seen their support rise seven points over that time to 42 per cent. Forum projected this level of support, if an election were held today, would result in a stronger Liberal majority government with 52 additional seats for a total of 204 out of the 338 in the House.

It’s a reversal of fortunes for the governing party, which saw its numbers slip from 42 per cent in January to 35 per cent in April, which is the lowest Forum has had the Liberals since they formed government in 2015. In fact, the April survey from Forum had the Liberals tied with the Conservatives for support, while a March survey showed them trailing the Conservatives 36 to 38 per cent.

“Justin Trudeau’s numbers have rebounded from April and he has recovered his comfortable lead going into the summer, which is generally a good time for a sitting government,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said in a news release. “Andrew Scheer’s introductory numbers don’t come as a surprise, with the majority saying they don’t know him. It isn’t a concern right now. He still has two years to define himself in contrast to the prime minister.”

The NDP, led by Tom Mulcair (Outremont, Que.) and in the process of picking a new leader, saw its support slip five points to 12 per cent this month, with most of that loss thought to be going to the Liberals. The Green Party was down one point to six per cent, while the Bloc Québécois was steady at five per cent.

The latest Forum poll showed Mr. Trudeau with a net favourability rating of plus-seven, derived at by taking the 48 per cent who approve of him and subtracting the 41 per cent who disapprove. The remaining 11 per cent didn’t know if they approved or disapproved of the prime minister.

Mr. Scheer’s favourability rating was even, as equal proportions of 23 per cent approved and disapproved of him, while the majority, 54 per cent, didn’t know.

Mr. Mulcair has a positive favourability score of seven, as 36 per cent approved of him, 29 per cent disapproved, and 35 per cent did not know.

The figures were based on interactive voice-response surveys done of 1,483 randomly selected Canadian voters earlier this month. The results were said to be accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Voter preferences this month, according to Forum Research:

Liberals 42% (up 7 points from April)

Conservatives 34% (down 1 point from April)

NDP 12% (down 5 points from April)

Green Party 6% (down 1 point from April)

Bloc Québécois 5% (same as April)

Source: Forum Research survey, June 6-8

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