As concern over COVID rises, are the Liberals poised to benefit?

The Canadian prime minister has announced the call for a general election, scheduled for Sept. 20, and many Canadians are more occupied by fears of a fourth wave of COVID-19 than politics.

Amid a surge in new infections, anxiety among parents over the safety of unvaccinated children returning to school in person, and other worries, the latest data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that the number of people in this country expressing concern about personally contracting COVID-19 increased five points from July to 52 per cent.

Politically speaking, this situation represents a great risk – and a potential opportunity – for the governing Liberals.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of those who are personally concerned about falling ill with COVID-19 also say they intend to support the Liberal Party in the next election.

Further, just over half of Canadians (51 per cent) are of the view the PM has done a “good job” managing the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest mark Justin Trudeau has received in 2021 and 11 points higher than his personal favourability (40 per cent). A similar, but slightly higher number (55 per cent) say his government has done well on the same file.

In terms of vote intention, the incumbent party continues to hold a five-point advantage over the opposition Conservatives – both parties up one point each, but statistically unchanged in the last week.

The Conservatives are not only holding onto past voters, but the party’s base is also home to those who are most certain about their vote.

Half (48 per cent) of those who intend to vote for the CPC are absolutely committed, compared to just 28 per cent for the incumbent Liberals and 29 per cent for Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats.