Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives have increased their support as the party Canadians would vote for and the Liberals are at a statistical tie with the New Democrats, according to the latest Nanos Research ballot tracking, which measures popular support for the major federal parties.

Poilievre's personal numbers continue to trend sharply upwards while his party saw a 17-point advantage over the federal Liberals in the new Nanos tracking.

On the ballot question, Conservatives are leading with an uptick in support over the past four weeks at 40.6 per cent versus Justin Trudeau's Liberals, whose support dipped to 23.8 per cent. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his party saw a slight rise in support at 21.9 per cent.

"The reality is still (a) big advantage for Pierre Poilievre on the ballot numbers," said Nik Nanos, CTV News' pollster and chief data scientist of Nanos Research, on the latest episode of CTV News Trend Line. "When you see those Liberal numbers get towards the NDP numbers, who knows what Jagmeet Singh might do? Especially since … we're in 2024 (and there's) not a big gap between the New Democrats and the Liberals."

Nanos ballot support graphic

Poilievre ‘in the driver's seat’

For another Nanos survey on Canadians' preferred prime minister, about 36 per cent of respondents say Poilievre is their best choice, a 16-point advantage over Trudeau, who has 20 per cent. Singh is at 15 per cent.

"The trend line for Pierre Poilievre is at a level that is higher than any Conservative leader, including Stephen Harper, in the past decade," Nanos said. "He's basically in the driver's seat in terms of the ballot numbers and also in the driver's seat when it comes to who Canadians today at least would prefer as prime minister."

Nanos Preferred PM Tracking

For the ballot support and preferred PM surveys, the data is based on a random four-week telephone poll of 1,032 Canadians (aged 18 years and older), which is accurate 3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20. The interviews ended Feb. 16.

Moreover, a Nanos survey with The Globe and Mail asked Canadians what would be the best way for the Liberals to improve their chances of winning the next federal election.

"(Trudeau) took the party out of the wilderness in 2015," Nanos said. "The party could go back into the wilderness if he's leader, except if there's something major that happens where he does really well and Pierre Poilievre really blows up."

Trudeau in ‘very tough spot’

Canadians' top recommendation for Liberals to improve their political fortunes was to have a new leader (39 per cent). The next popular option was for the Liberals to focus more on economic issues (25 per cent). Meanwhile, 20 per cent think the Liberals should continue with the current policy priorities they've had over the past few years and six per cent said nothing will boost their chances of winning. Only three per cent believe Trudeau should lead the Liberals in the next election.

"What does this mean? That even if you're a committed Liberal supporter, you're probably thinking about something to do other than keeping Justin Trudeau in order to improve your political chances," Nanos said. "So, it speaks to the very tough spot that he is in, at least from a public perception perspective right now."

Even the Liberals’ recent rebranding of the carbon tax rebate may not make much of a difference, Nanos said. The Liberals announced it had renamed the Climate Action Incentive Payment to the Canada Carbon Rebate in mid-February. The government said it felt it needed to clarify the rebate's meaning and function related to carbon pricing, which puts a price on carbon pollution. The Liberals say carbon pricing is an effective way to create “a financial incentive” for people and businesses to pollute less. Through the rebate, Canadians receive fuel charge proceeds every three months. 

"It's going to be difficult for the Liberals to get a political bounce out of this," Nanos said. "These quarterly rebate cheques or deposits into people's bank accounts, it's once every three months. But every time someone's putting gas in the car, or paying for their gas bill or their heating bill or something like that, depending on what part of the country you live in and who you happen to be, you're probably angry at the Liberals."

In the Nanos and Globe poll, over two in five Canadians say both Trudeau (46 per cent) and Poilievre (41 per cent) have done a poor job as leaders of their parties. Poilievre scores "marginally higher" than Trudeau with a mean score of 4.4 out of 10 versus 3.9 out of 10, respectively.

The random telephone and online poll was conducted from Jan. 29 to 31. It's accurate 2.9 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode comes out Wednesday, March 6.