Andrew Scheer’s honeymoon as the leader of the Conservative Party is the worst any new party leader has experienced in 14 years, as the Conservatives are only marginally more popular today than they were when Scheer won the party’s top job three months ago.
But while Scheer’s leadership bump has been below average, ranking him in the bottom half of new leaders since John Diefenbaker, the relationship between a new leader’s honeymoon and his or her subsequent electoral success is far from clear cut.
In polls conducted over the three months since Scheer was named leader, the Conservatives have averaged 32.1 per cent support. That’s 1.3 points higher than the Conservatives’ average poll support in the three months prior to the May 27 leadership vote.
That score is below the average increase of 2.3 points experienced by past leaders since 1956, when comparing average support three months before and three months after a new leader is put in place.
It is even further behind the average leadership bump of new Conservative leaders (including those of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties), which has come in at about four points — the same average increase newly-installed Official Opposition leaders have experienced.
That puts Scheer roughly in the middle of the pack of the new party leaders the Tories, Liberals and NDP have had since the 1950s and for which polling data is available.
Scheer’s honeymoon also compares poorly to that of Justin Trudeau, who boosted his party’s support by about eight points in 2013. Tom Mulcair also experienced a bigger bump than Scheer, increasing the NDP’s support from around 28 to 34 per cent in 2012.
The fates of those two leaders in the 2015 federal election, however, were considerably different.
But the numbers suggest that no new leader since 2003 has had such little positive impact on the polls for his party.
That year, Jack Layton had no discernible impact on the polls after he took over the NDP, while support for the PCs dropped slightly under Peter MacKay. Paul Martin, the new Liberal prime minister, saw his party’s support slip by about four points — though from a higher base.
Scheer only got a few days as Opposition leader in the House of Commons before it adjourned for the summer, a period when politicians of all stripes struggle to keep up their profile. This could have contributed to his flat honeymoon.
The average honeymoon boost for leaders who…