Most Canadians are expecting the upcoming election campaign to have a more negative tone than previous ones, according to a new poll from Nanos Research, commissioned by CTV News.

When Canadians were surveyed as to whether they thought the looming campaign would be more or less negative than its predecessors, 85 per cent of Canadians said it would be either more negative or somewhat more negative.

Just 8 per cent said it would be less negative or somewhat less negative – and seven per cent said they weren't sure.

"Canadians are bracing themselves for a negative mud-slinging election. Expect the former Liberal 'sunny-ways' to be thrown out the window as the Liberals fight to cling to power by tearing down Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer," said Nanos Research founder Nik Nanos.

Nanos survey graphic - negative election campaign

The perception isn't coming out of nowhere. Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have exchanged barbs over the potential nastiness of the fall election.

During a fundraiser in October of last year, Trudeau told donors he expects this campaign to be the nastiest one yet – but added that he won't indulge any mudslinging.

Scheer shot back at Trudeau. He took to Twitter to say that should the campaign become nasty, "we know who will make it nasty."

History has set the bar pretty high when it comes to nasty electoral campaigns.

Attack ads over the years have gone for the jugular, like the 1993 Progressive Conservative attack ad that was interpreted as making fun of Jean Chrétien's face through a series of unbecoming images. The ad was taken down after 24 hours.

A Liberal ad from 2006 also said that Harper would put "soldiers with guns in our cities, in Canada" as tense music played in the background.

Third-party political action groups have already started firing off attack ads ahead of this campaign. Groups called Shaping Canada’s Future and Engage Canada have run ads slamming Trudeau and Scheer's records respectively – and the writ has yet to drop.

Canadians' concern about looming nastiness wasn’t the only product of the poll.

Using the same methodology on two other questions, Nanos Researchers also found the issue most likely to influence voters is the environment and climate change. In response to the open question, 27.3 per cent of Canadians said the issue "will be the most important issue which will influence which party or candidate [Canadians] will vote for."

The economy came in second with 18.9 per cent of Canadians saying it'll be a key issue for them. The budget, trustworthiness, healthcare, taxes, immigration and political parties all came up for between three and six per cent of Canadians surveyed.

Pipelines, energy and oil were last on the list, tied with political parties and leaders. Only 3.3 per cent of Canadians said those issues would help determine how to vote come October.

Nanos researchers also put Scheer in the hot seat in this survey, using the same methodology to ask Canadians for their perception of the Conservative leader.

The majority of Canadians – 58 per cent – said they had either a negative or somewhat negative impression of the leader. Just shy of 30 per cent said they have a positive or somewhat positive impression, while 10 per cent had "no impression" and three per cent were unsure.

The region of the respondents did have an impact on this response. While 30 per cent of respondents from the Prairies had a negative impression of Scheer, 24 per cent had a somewhat positive perception and 19 per cent had a positive perception – the most out of any province. Over 44 per cent of Ontario residents surveyed had a negative impression of Scheer, surpassed only by British Columbia, which had almost 50 per cent of its respondents saying they viewed Scheer in a negative light.


The survey sampled 1,000 randomly selected individuals across Canada from July 28 to 30, who were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.