In a survey conducted late last week by Abacus Data, Maxime Bernier’s newly announced party has the support of 13% of projected voters. This puts the yet-to-be-formed party ahead of both the Green Party and Bloc Quebecois in the days immediately following the Quebec MP’s announcement of his intention to form a new party following his withdrawal from the Conservative caucus.
The survey of 1000 potential voters included a preference poll of the five largest parties, not including Bernier’s new party. Given the choice of the five parties currently represented in Parliament, the sample showed the Liberals leading by 3 points nationwide at 37%, followed by the Conservatives at 34%, the NDP at 18%, 6% for the Green Party and 3% for the Bloc Quebecois.
After being presented with excerpts from Bernier’s critique of the Conservative Party from his public statement of resignation on Thursday, 13 % of the sample group favoured Bernier’s party in waiting. With Bernier’s party in the mix, the Liberals still lead with 34%, followed by the Conservatives at 28%. Bernier’s party pulls support from all three of the largest parties: 3 percentage points from the Liberals, 6 from the Conservatives and 2 from the NDP.
Bernier’s party bests the Conservatives in Quebec
Perhaps the most significant insight from this survey conducted immediately following Bernier’s announcement is the amount of support he draws away from the Conservative Party in his home province of Quebec. Among voters surveyed, Bernier pulls 15% support in Quebec, putting his prospective party in second place behind the Liberals who lead by a large margin with 41%. With Bernier’s party in the mix, the Conservatives trail behind, tied for fourth place with the NDP behind the Bloc Quebecois at just 11%.
This puts a point on the significant role played by Bernier in drumming up support for the Conservative Party in Quebec during the 2015 federal election, which saw the Tories increase their seat count in the province to 12, up from just 5 in 2011.
Outside of Quebec, Bernier’s announced party does best in Western Canada, pulling 18% support in Alberta and 17% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Early momentum for Bernier
Bernier hopes to carry the momentum of this data as he begins the process of building his new party. In a Facebook post on Sunday he wrote, “This poll is fantastic news. Only hours after I announced my intention to launch a new party, 13% of Canadians would vote for it.”
It is still early days, and at this point the results of this poll can only be interpreted speculatively but they suggest that potential voters have not dismissed Bernier’s planned party out of hand. Even before the party has been registered with Elections Canada or released any platform planks, a combined total of 49% of survey respondents say they are either certain to (6%), likely to (10%) or would consider (33%) voting forBernier and his new party in 2019.