A new poll suggests half of Canadians can’t decide which of the 13 Conservative leadership candidates would make the best prime minister.

Twenty per cent of Canadians say none of the hopefuls would make the best prime minister, and 33 per cent aren’t sure, according to the latest data from a Nanos Research survey for CTV.

A random telephone and online survey of 1,000 eligible voters asked: “Which of the following candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada would make the best Prime Minister?”

One in six Canadians believe Maxime Bernier would make the best prime minister, and more than one in four say Kellie Leitch would be the worst PM.

The survey, conducted earlier this week, comes days before the Conservative candidates and members gather in Toronto for the final leg of the year-long race. Speeches are scehduled Friday, and a winner will be announced Saturday.

Nanos survey participants were chosen randomly and reflect the feelings of voters nationwide, and not solely the Conservative membership.

Respondents said the best potential prime minister was:

  • Unsure: 33.1 per cent
  • None of them: 20.3 per cent
  • Maxime Bernier: 17.4 per cent
  • Michael Chong: 10 per cent
  • Lisa Raitt: 7.7 per cent
  • Andrew Scheer: 4.1 per cent
  • Erin O’Toole: 2.3 per cent
  • Steven Blaney, Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander: 1 per cent
  • Pierre Lemieux: 0.7 per cent
  • Deepak Obhrai and Brad Trost: 0.5 per cent
  • Rick Peterson and Andrew Saxton: 0.2 per cent

Asked who would make the worst prime minister, respondents said:

  • Unsure: 43.8 per cent
  • Kellie Leitch: 27 per cent
  • Maxime Bernier: 8.2 per cent
  • None of them: 5.5 per cent
  • Deepak Obhrai: 4.4 per cent
  • Lisa Raitt: 2.2 per cent
  • Brad Trost: 2 per cent
  • Chris Alexander: 1.8 per cent
  • Steven Blaney: 1.7 per cent
  • Michael Chong: 1.5 per cent
  • Erin O’Toole and Pierre Lemieux: 0.6 per cent
  • Rick Peterson: 0.4 per cent
  • Andrew Saxton and Andrew Scheer: 0.1 per cent

Best PM by region

New numbers from the Conservative Party suggest that this leadership race is the largest of any party in Canadian history. By Thursday, 125,000 ballots had been received from the eligible 259,010 members – a turnout of nearly 50 per cent. That surpasses the previous record turnout of 200,000 for the Canadian Alliance in 2000.

Many of those ballots have been cast by mail from ridings across Canada. Voters are asked to rank their candidates by order of preference. The winner must have 50 per cent plus one of the votes, or 16,901 points through the party’s points system. The system assigns 100 points to each riding.

According to Nanos survey results:

  • One in four B.C. respondents said “none of them” would make the best prime minister, followed by Michael Chong (11 per cent)
  • In the Prairies, one in five respondents said Maxime Bernier would make the best prime minister
  • Ontario respondents were narrowly split over Michael Chong (17 per cent) and Maxime Bernier (16 per cent)
  • “None of them” led the survey in Quebec (28 per cent), followed by Bernier (25 per cent)
  • In Atlantic Canada, more than one in five respondents said “none of them” would make the best PM, followed by Lisa Raitt (18 per cent)

Who can unite the Conservatives?

The crowded race has often sparked heated policy debates. Kellie Leitch’s divisive “Canadian values” pitch and plan to screen newcomers to Canada has drawn consternation from other candidates, and Michael Chong’s vocal support for a carbon tax has made him stand out from the pack.

Survey respondents were asked which candidate would best unite the Conservative party. Almost half (45 per cent) said they were unsure, but Maxime Bernier came out as the top candidate, at 15.4 per cent.

  • Unsure: 45.4 per cent
  • Maxime Bernier: 15.4 per cent
  • None of them: 11.2 per cent
  • Lisa Raitt: 7.5 per cent
  • Andrew Scheer: 7.4 per cent
  • Michael Chong: 4.3 per cent
  • Erin O’Toole: 2.9 per cent
  • Steven Blaney: 1.6 per cent
  • Kellie Leitch: 1.2 per cent
  • Deepak Obhrai and Brad Trost: 0.7 per cent
  • Chris Alexander: 0.6 per cent
  • Pierre Lemieux: 0.5 per cent
  • Rick Peterson: 0.4 per cent
  • Andrew Saxton: 0.3 per cent

Bernier, Raitt, Chong best for drawing votes

Survey respondents were asked how likely they would be to vote Conservative in the next federal election based on each possible leadership candidate. Maxime Bernier drew the most support, with 30 per cent of voters saying they’d be more likely or somewhat more likely. Similar support was reported for Lisa Raitt (26 per cent) and Michael Chong (23 per cent).

In terms of unfavourability, half of respondents said they’d be less likely or somewhat less likely to vote Conservative under Bernier. Those numbers dropped to 48 per cent under Raitt and 46 per cent under Chong.

Almost two thirds of those polled said they’d be less likely to support the Tories under Kellie Leitch’s leadership, with 58 per cent less likely to vote Conservative and 6 per cent somewhat less likely.

Liberals likeliest to work with Trump, manage economy

Each of the 13 Conservative candidates has fought hard to position themselves as the best alternative to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019. But when it comes to the economy, survey results suggest Canadians believe the Liberals have the best economic program and are most likely to work with the Trump administration.

More than a third of Canadians (38 per cent) said the Liberals have the best economic plan, followed by the Conservatives (30 per cent) and the NDP (13 per cent). Two per cent say the Green Party has the best plan, and 1 per cent support the Bloc Quebecois. Fifteen per cent are unsure.

The new numbers reflect 13 per cent growth in support for the Liberals’ economic plan compared to polling in August 2015. Support for the NDP’s plan has dropped 13 per cent since the pre-election survey. Conservative support remained unchanged.

The Liberals are also considered the most likely to work with the White House (40 per cent), followed by the Conservatives (35 per cent) and the NDP (3 per cent). Both the Greens and Bloc Quebecois garnered 1 per cent support. One in five respondents said they weren’t sure who was likeliest to work with Trump.

Poll Methodology

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land-and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between May 24 and 25, 2017 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.