Charest has a lead in Ontario over conservative leader rival Poilievre, according to opinion polls

A new poll released today suggests that former Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest has the advantage of the all-important election campaign in Ontario over Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, his main opponent in the Conservative leadership.

The Angus Reid Institute study, which surveyed 5,105 Canadians from March 10 to 15, also found that Charest is the preferred candidate among people who have previously voted liberal.

These results seem to suggest that the former prime minister is the leading candidate best placed to rally dissatisfied centrist voters in the next federal election campaign – the voters that big parties must reach to have a chance of forming the next government.

“Pierre Poilievre has massive appeal among the existing Conservative base, but also among former People’s Party voters. Poilievre is truly the spiritual guide for right-wing and hard-right voters in this country,” Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute (ARI), told CBC News.

“For Jean Charest, it is he who gets one side glance and another look, not only from a majority of former Conservative voters, but we also see two-fifths of former Liberal voters say, ‘Yes, that guy is appealing to me.’ ” So Charest has more potential, more of a path to growth. “

While Charest could be able to expand the party beyond its traditional support base, the poll showed that Poilievre is clearly favored among the current Conservative voters for the top post.

About 54 percent of those polled in the poll, who voted conservatively in the 2021 federal election, said Poilievre was the most appealing candidate, while only 15 percent said the same about Charest.

Still, a majority of the Conservative voters surveyed told the Angus Reid Institute that they would support Charest as leader. About 80 percent of the 1,446 previously polled Conservative voters said they would consider voting for Poilievre if he won the leadership, while 66 percent said the same about Charest.

The poll showed that a Conservative party led by either Charest or Poilievre would be more attractive to voters: 42 per cent of all respondents said they would consider voting for the party if it was led by both men – a significant increase over the party’s current stand in many polls.

But Poilievre and Charest would draw on various sources of support.

Poilievre has strong appeal among people who voted for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) in the last election, the poll showed.

Jean Charest speaks to the participants during the launch of his campaign for the leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party at the Wildrose Brewery in Calgary on March 10, 2022. (Oseremen Irete / CBC)

Approximately 74 percent of respondents who voted for the PPC said Poilievre is the most appealing candidate in this leadership – a percentage 20 points higher than the percentage of conservative voters who felt the same way (54 percent). This suggests that Poilievre has the best chance of consolidating the right-wing vote, which was shattered in the last parliamentary elections.

Charest, meanwhile, has much more appeal among Canadians who did not support the Conservative party in the September election. About 32 percent of all Liberal voters surveyed in 2021 said Charest was the most appealing Conservative leadership candidate, while only 10 percent said the same about Poilievre.

Charest also beat Poilievre among NDP voters polled – 19 per cent of new Democrats said they preferred the former Quebec prime minister, while 6 per cent said they liked the Conservative MP best.

Poilievre’s Prairie Force, Charests Ontario side

While Poilievre is the preferred candidate among all polled voters in the prairies, the poll showed that the more centrist Charest has greater appeal to voters in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

In Ontario, 46 ​​percent of respondents said Charest was the most appealing candidate compared to 41 percent who supported Poilievre. In Nova Scotia, 42 per cent of respondents said Charest was the most appealing, while 36 per cent chose Poilievre. In both BC and Quebec, the two candidates were in virtual draw.

Kurl said Poilievre’s oversized popularity in the prairies – a region in the country where the Conservative Party is already very strong – means a Poilievre-led party could struggle to grow.

“The question is, do the Conservative party members remain faithful and close to what have been the current Conservative values? Do they double and triple them? Or are they taking a good, long look at making some trade-offs and moving to the center to win the election? ” said Kurl.

The Conservative vote was ineffective in the last two federal elections and ran with skewed victories in many riding in western Canada, while falling short in urban and suburban Ontario and Quebec – densely populated regions that essentially determine which party to form a government.

MP Pierre Poilievre checks a campaign sign in his riding in the Ottawa area on September 8, 2019. (CBC)

“Charest’s five-point advantage in Ontario and his appeal to soft liberals are key elements in increasing conservative voting efficiency in future elections,” Kurl said.

The poll also suggests that Poilievre is the clear favorite among people who voted conservatively in the recent federal election.

Only 15 percent of conservative eligible voters said Charest was the most appealing candidate in the field, while 54 percent chose Poilievre – suggesting the MP has a frightening 40-point lead over its rival. But not all former Conservative voters are current party members eligible to vote in the September general election.

‘The campaign is really about two candidates’

Kurl also said there is plenty of time for Charest to catch up on lost ground.

“It’s early days, but it certainly shows that the campaign is really about two candidates,” she said.

“The question for Poilievre is whether he can resist the narrative that the party has more potential to win under Charest? And can the Charest campaign survive the attacks that he is a faux conservative and that he is not the real thing?”

ARI’s results are similar to those reported earlier this month by another polling firm, Leger.

In the Leger study, which examined 1,591 people between 4.-6. March, 15 percent of all respondents said Poilievre would be the best Conservative leader, while 12 percent said the same about Charest. Most respondents were unsure.

But among the 358 current Conservatives, polled by Doctors, Poilievre had 41 percent support compared to 10 percent for Charest. This poll was conducted before Peter MacKay announced that he was not running for office.

The ARI poll suggests that those who support the two leading candidates have very different views on where the next leader should take the party.

Among the 780 respondents who said they would consider voting for Charest over others, 83 percent said the next leader should “move the party more towards the political center on social issues.”

Among the 1,236 respondents who said they leaned toward Poilievre, 66 percent would rather see the party “continue to be a strong voice for conservatism in Canada.”

There is also a regional divide on this issue. Strong majorities in BC (65 percent), Ontario (61 percent), Quebec (68 percent) and Atlantic Canada (61 percent) would prefer to see the party move to the center on social issues, while voters in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba prefer the status quo .

The margin of error associated with the ARI measurement was +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The margin of error associated with the Leger measurement was +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Leave a Comment