Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre. Photo credit: Twitter/Pierre Poilievre
There is something odd going on with the Conservative Party. And no, it is not that over 2,500 of the party’s faithful willingly travelled to Quebec last week for their policy convention, a province that tends not to be overall friendly towards Conservatives.
Instead, for the first time since 2015, the Conservatives are not only leading in the polls but dominating their competition. A recent survey from Abacus Data found that if an election was held today, Conservatives would win 40 per cent of the vote, while the Liberals would only capture 26 per cent.
On a personal level, the Conservative Leader, Pierre Poilievre, is leading by 14-points over the Prime Minister. Poilievre performing especially well with Gen X and Millennials, who typically vote Liberal and were an important factor in Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election win.
The Sunny Ways that brought Trudeau to power are no more. The realities of governing have hit him and his party hard. Their promise of a new way of governing has caught up to them and their policies, good or bad, have fallen flat with Canadians.
The Abacus survey found that 83 per cent of Canadians want a change in government and only 17 per cent of voters believe that the Liberals should be re-elected. There appears to be serious moment for the Conservatives. But could this just be the summertime blues, or do the Conservatives have real shot at forming government?
If you ask a Liberal, they will say that Canadians have been tuned out for the summer and the poll numbers are catching something that will go away as Canadians return to their regular lives. They will also point to their new cabinet that will give some new energy to the party and government.
Though a fresh coat of paint rarely fixes the problem, for the Liberals, that problem is that Canadians are losing faith in them.
In particular, the Liberals’ core supports are leaving them and in some cases are parking their vote with the Conservatives. This is particularly true among younger votes, who in the past three elections have been the Liberals saving grace. No more is the case as the Conservatives hold 32 per cent of these voters, while the NDP is currently capturing 8 per cent of the age group.
Among young people, the issues that matter are similar to those in other age groups – the focus is on the cost of living, housing affordability and the economy. Though young people are slightly more concerned about housing affordability and the economy compared to older generations.
It is no surprise that as young people enter the workforce or start families, their concerns on these issues are increasing. Having been part of two economic slowdowns and entering the job market when wages are lagging significantly, financial stability is important for young people who are trying to make it on their own.
While at the same time, the desire to own a home is strong among young people but the realities of rising interest rates and low supply are hampering this dream. When it comes to politicians talking about these issues, the Conservatives have been the clear front runner.
To Poilievre’s credit, he has been shouting from the rooftops for the past year that the government needs to empower Canadians and their paychecks. He has also been driving home the need for more housing that is affordable for Canadians and reducing the regulatory burdens that builders face. This messaging has been well received.
Conservatives have the momentum, but an election is far off, and things change quickly in politics. It will be key for the Conservatives to continue to stay on message and listen to Canadians about the issues that matter to them. If they stay the course, they might be able to bring it home and pull off something that has eluded them the better part of a decade – winning.
Daniel Perry is a consultant with Summa Strategies Canada, one of the country’s leading public affairs firms. During the most recent federal election, he was a regular panelist on CBC’s Power and Politics and CTV Morning Ottawa.