Kevin O’Leary, Michael Chong, Maxime Bernier and Lisa Raitt are the most politically appealing Conservative Party leadership candidates to Canadians, according to a new Nanos survey.

Nearly 15 per cent of those surveyed said they found O’Leary most appealing. He was followed by Chong (9.2 per cent), Bernier (8.5 per cent), and Raitt (7.1 per cent). 

Kellie Leitch, Erin O’Toole, Steven Blaney and Andrew Scheer were each preferred by only about two per cent of survey responders. One per cent or less said they preferred Chris Alexander, Deepak Obhrai, Pierre Lemieux and Brad Trost.

Less than 0.5 per cent of survey responders said they found candidates Rick Peterson and Andrew Saxton most appealing.

More than one third, or 34 per cent, said that none of the 14 Conservative leadership candidates are politically appealing to them.

When the answers from people who found no one appealing were excluded, the percentage of Canadians who found O’Leary most politically appealing rose to 22.2 per cent. This was followed by Chong (14 per cent), Bernier (12.9 per cent) and Raitt (10.8 per cent).

Pollster Nik Nanos said the survey results show that leadership candidates’ appeal to Canadians is not just about name recognition and media exposure.  

“If this was just name recognition, realistically Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary would be at the top of the list,” Nanos told on Tuesday.

The fact that Chong, Bernier and Raitt also did well in the survey shows that each one of them “brings something different to the race that people find appealing,” Nanos said.

“For Kevin O’Leary, whether you love him or hate him, he is a brash personality that is very focused on jobs and the economy,” he said.

Chong is seen as a young, progressive candidate, Bernier is an “engaging Francophone” and Raitt is also an engaging personality and a successful former cabinet minister, Nanos added.

But just because those candidates are appealing to Canadians, that doesn’t mean they will do well in the leadership race, since it’s Conservative Party members who will be choosing their next leader, Nanos said.

He said the way Canadians – and CPC voters – view the candidates could significantly change over the course of the leadership race.

Opinions divided on non-bilingual leaders

Forty per cent of Canadians said they’re following the leadership race “somewhat closely,” while 11 per cent said they’re following closely. A quarter, or 25 per cent, said they are not following the race closely, and 24 per cent answered with “somewhat not closely.”

When it comes to bilingualism and federal politics, Canadians appear to be divided.

One third, or 33 per cent, said they would likely vote against a federal party leader who could not speak both English and French. Sixteen per cent said they would be somewhat likely to do so.

Meanwhile, 34 per cent said they would be unlikely to vote against a party leader who’s not bilingual, while 11 per cent said they’d be somewhat unlikely.

Many Conservative Party leadership candidates have struggled to communicate in French during debates. O’Leary also raised eyebrows when he suggested that he doesn’t need to speak French, but has since expressed his commitment to learning the language. 


The data is based on a dual frame (land and cell lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age and older, between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1 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.