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Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:34 am Post subject:
GUNTER: Growing millennial cohort pose challenge for Tory hopefuls
Lorne Gunter, Postmedia Network
Feb 28, 2017
, Last Updated: 5:11 PM ET
In the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race – a.k.a Kevin-Come-Lately and the 13 Dwarfs – the most popular candidate isn’t even running.
Rona Ambrose, the very able Edmonton-area MP who has been the party’s interim leader since former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped aside, is one of just two Conservatives for whom “don’t know” is not the largest category in recent opinion polls.
In a survey of nearly 4,200 Canadians conducted by Abacus Data between Feb 10 and 16, Ambrose received a 23 per cent positive rating against a “don’t know” rating of just 18 per cent. By contrast, Andrew Sheer, a Regina-area MP and former Speaker of the House of Commons, earns just a five percent positive rating and a great, big 66 per cent “Huh?”
Even better known candidates such as Lisa Raitt and Kellie Leitch get positives of just 10 per cent or less, and “don’t knows” above 50 per cent.
The only other Conservative for whom “don’t know” isn’t his largest category is Kevin O’Leary, the Boston resident and reality TV star who declared for the Conservative leadership in mid-January. And that’s only because O’Leary’s “negatives” (41 per cent) eclipse his “don’t knows” (21 per cent).
O’Leary’s positives are just 18 per cent.
So what are the Tories to do given that their best candidate took herself out of the race when she agreed to guide the party until a new leader could be selected?
The sad answer is, not much.
Other recent research from Abacus shows just how enormous the mountain is that the Conservatives are facing no matter who they choose at their convention in late May. And given that CPC members are likely to select either an unknown leader or one (O’Leary) who is unpopular with the wider electorate, their challenge is doubly daunting.
One electoral fact Abacus points out is that in the next federal campaign, Millennials (voters born between 1980 and 2000 “will make up the largest portion of the electorate … which will mark the end of Baby Boomer dominance in deciding elections.”
This is huge, because it is difficult to see how any of the candidates running for the CPC’s top job will be able to make him- or herself more attractive to Millennials than Justin Trudeau is.
There has been a lot of speculation that Millennials were losing their glowing feelings for the Liberals following Trudeau’s approval of the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines last fall and his announcement last month that there would be no reforms to Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. (You know, why change now that the system is working so well for the Divine-Right-to-Govern Liberals?)
Trudeau’s sophomoric remarks on the death of Fidel Castro and his belief he could get away with accepting a free trip to the Aga Khan’s Caribbean island retreat allegedly didn’t help his standing with young, ideologically minded voters, either.
Except, that’s not what Abacus found.
In the same poll in which Abacus tested the waters of the Tory leadership race, they also asked Millennials (among others) for their views on national politics.
By a margin of nearly two-to-one, Millennials remain enraptured with Trudeau and his Liberals. Their support has declined by two percentage points since the policy disappointments, but Millennials like the Liberals 42 per cent to 24 per cent for the Conservatives, 19 per cent of the NDP and 11 per cent for the Greens.
While Millennials tell pollsters they are more motivated by policy than personality, their love for Trudeau betrays that the opposite is true.
So given that the Tory race is dominated by uncharismatic policy wonks, it’s unlikely any of the current candidates has much chance of defeating Trudeau.
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