Andrew Scheer may be getting hot — okay, warmish — at just the right time. The most recent Nanos Research tracking poll has him as preferred prime minister, ahead of Justin Trudeau for the first time since May. A year ago, Trudeau was out-polling the Conservative leader 41 per cent to 25 per cent when respondents were asked who they would like to see in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Before anyone gets too carried away, the differential between the two realistic candidates for the top job is well within the margin of error. In addition, we’re still three weeks away from election day and at this point in 2015, Stephen Harper was leading Trudeau in the same Nanos poll.
But the trend lines are clear — Scheer’s stock has risen and Trudeau’s fallen since the campaign started. The Conservative leader seems to be growing into his role and more people are starting to believe he really could become prime minister.
Scheer is often compared to former Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark who once quipped: “I’m not the greatest but I’m the best available.”
He often sounds like he’s giving grace at a Rotary luncheon when speaking from the teleprompter, though he is much better at informal gatherings in bars and halls where his geniality and wry sense of humour win through.
By contrast, Trudeau is a natural politician — he has grip-and-grin politics “stored like muscle memory in the tissue”, in the words of former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Comparatively, it’s a tin whistle versus a trumpet.
But the Conservative advertising campaign — that Trudeau is “just not as advertised” — has been vindicated by the Liberal leader’s own behaviour. He has tried the patience of people who once supported him, time and time again. If they are not yet angry at him, they are disappointed.
American public opinion guru, Frank Luntz, once said the voters would rather vote for someone who they trust than someone they agree with. “Being a straight shooter is important. The keys are consistency and stability,” he said.
While many Canadians have come to question Trudeau’s authenticity, Scheer is as principled and predictable as he seems.