Who has what it takes to be Prime Minister?

New data from a nationwide public opinion survey shows that many voters believe that either Justin Trudeau or Tom Mulcair would be acceptable as Prime Minister.

While 28% believe Stephen Harper does a good or excellent job in the office today, and another 29% would rate his performance as acceptable, fully 42% say he does a poor or very poor job.

In contrast, only about a quarter of those polled believe that either Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Mulcair would do a poor job if they held the office of Prime Minister.

35% think Trudeau would make a good or excellent Prime Minister, highest among the three leaders and 8 points better than Mr. Mulcair.



Our poll also explored some of the potential vulnerabilities of each leader, based on the criticisms they have faced from their political opponents. The results reveal:

  • Fully 59% think Justin Trudeau has good ideas for the future of the country, including a majority in every region of the country (52% in Alberta), one in four of those who intend to vote Conservative, and 58% of those planning on voting NDP, and 58% among those who are undecided about how they will vote.
  • 53% think Mr. Trudeau has sound judgement, including 27% of Conservative voters, and 53% of NDP voters.
  • Half (49%) believe Tom Mulcair has a good grasp of how the economy works, and the same number (50%) believes he has the right temperament to be PM.  Doubts about Mr. Mulcair’s economic approach are considerably higher west of Quebec.
  • For Mr. Harper, 32% believe he is honest and accountable, and 38% believe he governs according to values they share.  Majorities in every region exhibit doubts about Mr. Harper on honesty/accountability including 52% in Alberta and 25% among those who intend to vote Conservative.  Among undecided voters, 75% do not think Mr. Harper has shown honesty and accountability.


According to pollster Bruce Anderson Chairman of Abacus:

These results reveal a few important things:

  • First, pretty large numbers of Canadian voters believe that either Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Mulcair would do an acceptable or better job as Prime Minister.  This sheds more light than the classic “best PM” question because for many people competency rather than superiority might be the test they apply, especially if they are looking for a change in direction of the country.
  • Mr. Mulcair enjoys an open mind among many voters as a potential leader of the country.  Resistance to him is more likely to have to do with concerns about his economic policies, especially in Ontario and the western part of the country, rather than whether he is temperamentally suited to the job.
  • Mr. Trudeau has faced a number of different types of criticisms since taking on the job of Liberal leader last year.  To date, he remains a figure that a wide cross section of Canadians are open to and feel positively about, including about a quarter of Conservative voters and about a half of NDP voters.  He has solid growth potential in part because he has been a less polarizing figure.
  • For Mr. Harper, the data are a sobering reminder that with a high degree of partisanship comes a risk of extensive polarization.  Polling at 28% now, and having watched 30% of the voters who helped create their majority drift away, mostly to the Liberals, the Conservatives cannot afford to assume that incumbency will work to their advantage in 2015 – they need to either make a more persuasive case about the weaknesses of their opponents or a more compelling case about their own merits.






The survey was conducted online with 1,996 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a representative panel of Canadians.  The survey was completed from January 14 to 18, 2014.


Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated.   The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.


The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1,996 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.


The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


For more information about the poll’s methodology or the results, please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.