In choosing their third leader in five years, Conservative Party of Canada members face a weighty decision: pick the candidate that most reflects the values and image of the party today, even if it means limiting the size of its overall electoral base, or choose a person who moves the party away from its current north star on the hopes of broadening its appeal.
A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute takes a deep look at the conservative universe in 2022, and in particular, the strengths and weaknesses of the two leaders considered current front-runners to challenge the Liberal Party in a future election.
These data also offer insight into broader areas of agreement and tension in the Conservative universe, whomever ultimately emerges as party steward.
Parliamentary veteran Pierre Poilievre and former Quebec Premier and deputy Prime Minister Jean Charest appear to have the early advantage in a long race.
Each appear capable of growing CPC support to approximately 42 per cent in a federal election. Poilievre gets there by inspiring and rallying the current core Conservative base, along with voters who turned to the PPC in the last election. For Charest, the route depends on convincing past centrist voters to look at a more moderate Conservative party under his leadership.
The latter group holds key potential benefits for a Charest leadership, as he earns higher levels of support in Ontario and draws interest from 37 per cent of those who supported the Liberal Party in 2021. Poilievre is of interest to 15 per cent of those who supported Justin Trudeau’s party six months ago and finds his more ardent supporters in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
More Key Findings:
- Three-quarters of People’s Party supporters choose Poilievre as their most appealing of CPC leadership candidates; by contrast, just three per cent of this group choose Charest.
- Potential CPC supporters in the Prairies are divided about the direction of the party; just over half say it should continue to stand for conservative values rather than move to the political centre. In B.C., Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, potential CPC voters call for a shift away from traditional values.
- Half who would consider voting Conservative with Poilievre as leader (53%) say the CPC should take a stand for conservative values going forward; by contrast more than three-in-five (63%) who would consider the CPC under Charest say the party should move to the centre on social issues.
- One-third (32%) of those who would consider the CPC under Poilievre have optimism for the future of Canada, notably lower than the half (48%) who’d consider backing the party under Charest who say the same.
- Three-in-five potential Charest supporters (58%) would accept a continuance of the federal carbon tax in search of electoral support. Poilievre supporters are far less likely (38%) to be willing to adopt this policy.
The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.