Federal Election: Party Leader Favourability Ratings

As the party leader continues their cross-country tour, a new national survey by Ottawa-based Abacus Data finds that, except for Jack Layton, the main party leaders are viewed unfavourably by Canadians.

The Abacus Data survey asked Canadians whether they had a favourable or unfavourable impression of the three main party leaders.  Overall, Jack Layton was viewed favourably by 38% of Canadians surveyed and unfavourably by 25% of respondents.  Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff were far more polarizing figures.  A majority of Canadians surveyed (52%) said they had an unfavourable impression of Mr. Harper with one in three (32%) saying they had a favourable impression.  Mr. Ignatieff did not fare any better, with only 23% of respondents saying they had a favourable impression and 49% saying their impressions were not favourable.

“What’s interesting here is the polarizing effect of Mr. Harper contrasted with the favourability scores of Mr. Layton”, said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.  “With Mr. Harper, we see very low rates of ‘unsure’ or indifferent’ responses; most Canadians have formed an impression about him.  Unfortunately for Mr. Harper, over two in three Canadians have a very unfavourable impression.”

Among their own party supporters, the leaders are well regarded.  Eighty-eight percent of Conservatives supporters have a favourable impression of Mr. Harper, 67% of Liberal supporters have a favourable impression of Mr. Ignatieff, and 69% of NDP supporters have a favourable rating of Jack Layton.

“The good news for Layton, as he seeks to convince former Liberal supporters to his cause, is that 66% of Liberal supporters have a favourable impression of him,” said Coletto.  “They certainly have to like you before they’ll consider voting for you.”

Abacus Data also asked Canadians to rate their impressions of a number of high-profile celebrities and personalities.  The party leaders faired well against the likes of Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, and George W. Bush trailed significantly behind U.S. President Barack Obama, hockey star Sidney Crosby, and Rick Mercer, host of CBC’s the Rick Mercer Report.

Read the full report here.

Between March 24 and 28, 2011, Abacus Data Inc. conducted an online survey among 1,000 randomly selected Canadian adults from an online panel of over 100,000 Canadians. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is comparable to +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.

Results of the survey were statistically weighted by gender, age, region, immigrant status, and language using census data from Statistics Canada and by past vote using Elections Canada results from the 2008 General Election. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

For more information about the survey findings, please contact Dr. David Coletto, CEO Abacus Data Inc. at (613) 884-4730 or david@abacusdata.ca

Throughout the campaign, Abacus Data will be releasing national survey results on a wide range of issues.  Visit the Abacus Data website regularly for all the latest results.