An extraordinary new Conservative leadership poll acquired by The Post Millennial has shown Erin O’Toole comfortably beating Peter MacKay in the second and third rounds of voting, signalling a dramatic shift in the contest.
The poll was conducted by DesLauriers Public Affairs on behalf of the Erin O’Toole campaign. On the first ballot, the poll shows that the Durham MP has 37 points of the support of Conservative members, trailing behind MacKay’s 41 points. Erin O’Toole, however, leads the popular vote.
Despite MacKay’s lead in points, “O’Toole has a significant edge on undecided [party members] who lean to him.” As a result of this support, O’Toole is expected to win 53 percent of the vote compared to MacKay’s 45 percent on the second and third ballots.
This scenario would make O’Toole the next leader of the Conservative Party.
The polling included 27,632 unique responses from party members and focus groups in every region of the country, making it one of the largest published samples so far in the leadership contest.
“Out of the four candidates in this race, O’Toole has the clearest path to victory given his strong first ballot support and strong second and third ballot support,” said the polling firm.
Despite commentators previously suggesting that MacKay will have a coronation, his election has been deeply damaged by Conservative member’s support for Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis. They are expected to support O’Toole in the second or third ballots.
This has made MacKay’s “path to victory difficult.”
The poll claims that MacKay’s support has plummeted notably in recent weeks. In almost every province and territory, MacKay’s popularity has declined. His approval rating in Ontario, in particular, has seen “double-digit negative growth.”
This negative trajectory for MacKay has been ongoing since the start of the campaign. The DesLauriers Public Affairs firm put this down to his popularity being “solely rooted in his strong name recognition.”
During focus groups, the DesLauriers Public Affairs firm found that Conservative members saw MacKay’s campaign as “unprofessional,” a “disaster,” and “embarrassing.”
“Conservatives participating in both our polling and focus group research no longer buy into MacKay’s central campaign theme of electability,” said the firm. “Simply put, after watching the campaign unfold, Conservatives now believe Peter MacKay will lose in a head-to-head matchup with Justin Trudeau.”
There was another bombshell comment in this polling report about the MacKay campaign’s “unsavoury tactics.” DesLauriers Public Affairs firm believes that they have been selling “fraudulent memberships through pre-paid credit cards.”
“We understand another campaign has already brought concerns of the MacKay campaign doing this and have brought evidence to the party to investigate),” they added.
“As noted in previous memos, our original goal was to be within ten points of MacKay at this stage (Week 13) of the campaign,” said the public affairs firm. “Having an actual lead at this stage of the campaign is obviously very positive news.”
When The Post Millennial asked Leslyn Lewis’ campaign for a comment on this polling, her campaign manager Steve Outhouse said that “If this poll was done using the most recent membership list released to all campaigns, then it would not contain any memberships our campaign has sold in the past six week.”
“I don't share internal data, but will say with certainty: This race is far from over, and the outcome is not written in stone, as some would like us to think. Campaigns matter,” he added.
“It shouldn't surprise anyone that Conservative Party members might not agree with the media pundits that this race is already decided. Lots of party members are still making up their mind, and the more people who meet Leslyn, the more we hear that she is a breath of fresh air that the party needs to lead our team into the next election.”
The Erin O’Toole campaign declined The Post Millennial’s request for a comment, saying “we don’t comment on internal campaign documents.”
Peter MacKay failed to respond to The Post Millennial's request for a comment.