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Liberals surging in polls; O'Toole lags far behind

According to new Abacus Data survey released Thursday, the Liberals have widened their lead over the conservatives by a significant margin.

The Hill Times reports that 38 per cent of Canadians would back the Liberals, if an election were held now, well enough for the governing party to reachieve majority status in Parliament. By contrast, only 30 per cent would tick off Conservative on the ballot, making this the largest lead held by the government over the opposition since October. The NDP is down at 17%, and the Greens have also fallen slightly to 6%.

So what's going on? First and foremost, the Liberals are performing well in Ontario and Quebec, which hold more than half of the country's seats. In Ontario, the Liberals are leading by 16% over the Conservatives; in Quebec, where the Bloc came out on top back in 2019, the Liberals now hold a seven point advantage at 37%.

“I think people are more optimistic about the vaccines, and when they’re going to be able to get one,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, in a phone interview. “We even see far more people think they’re going to get it by June than did even a few weeks ago. So that explains some of the improvement that the Liberals have seen and their vote.”

Coletto also noted the general lack of enthusiasm about the Conservative leader. “Erin O’Toole has had a tough few weeks, coming out of a convention that should have given him a nice bounce and focus,” he said. However, it hasn't, as his push to move the party more towards the center has alienated many constituent groups like social conservatives and the more libertarian-minded, the latter of whom voted down a proposal that would have recognized climate change as real. Climate change continues to be one of the most popular issues affecting voter choice. O'Toole is therefore losing support from both the right and the left.

Only 19 per cent of respondents had a positive impression of O'Toole; the lowest rating since Abacus started tracking his popularity. The biggest drop came from those on the left (likely due to the climate change debacle).

“That’s the signal that something happened in between the two weeks of our survey that caused some people to say, ‘Well, I liked him last week, but I don’t really like this week,’ ” Coletto said. “Experience over the years shows that the voters tend to not like, or find appeal with, the leader and a party that doesn’t seem united internally,” he said. “It’s almost like Canadians are saying, ‘Get your own house in order, before you ask us to give you the keys to the country.’ ”

Contrariwise, 39 per cent of respondents gave Trudeau a positive impression.

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