Saskatchewan's Scott Moe is Canada's premier premier - in terms of approval rating

22 June 2018 3 min. read

Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe is Canada’s most approved-of premier, according to a quarterly public opinion survey from research and communications consultancy DART Insight and Communications. Newly-elected Ontario Premier Doug Ford made his first appearance on the survey with a 40% approval rating, while Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil and Quebec’s Phillipe Couillard rounded out the bottom of the list with 30% ratings.

DART Insight and Communications is a Canadian consultancy that supports clients in the private, public, and non-profit sectors with communications strategy and execution, media training, events, and corporate services. The firm was founded by veteran pollster John Wright and communications specialist Victoria Ollers.

The firm’s ‘Insight’ division conducts market and public affairs opinion research, including a quarterly survey of provincial voters across Canada. The second-quarter survey, released for this month, reveals that Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has the highest approval rating of any provincial premier. Moe, who assumed the premiership from Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall in January 2018, saw his approval rating rise four points from the previous poll in March to 56%.Approval Ratings at a Glance June 2018The second most popular provincial leader is BC NDP Premier John Horgan at 50% (down 2%). Newly-elected Ontario PC Premier Doug Ford comes in with a 40% approval rating, his first measurement in the polls. Manitoba PC Premier Brian Pallister got 37% approval (no change), while Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley gained 2% to reach 35% approval. New Brunswick Liberal Premier Brian Gallant rose 4% to post 33% approval, while Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Premier Dwight Ball dropped 10 points to 32%. Rounding out the bottom was Nova Scotia Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil (30%, no change) and Quebec Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard (30%, no change).

Trends and Insights

Basically, approval ratings start at a relatively high point and then work their way down as time passes, giving voters time to tire of their provincial leaders, while giving leaders more time to disappoint larger parts of the voting public through controversial policy choices or scandals. The initial honeymoon period can last longer for some leaders, but eventually their constituents will tire of them.

It’s not surprising that the three most popular premiers also happen to have been in power for the shortest amount of time. Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe (56%), BC’s John Horgan (50%), and Ontario’s Doug Ford (40%) have all been in power for less than a year, and are as yet in their approval honeymoon period.

Just scanning the results, we can see that the four least popular premiers are all Liberals – situated in Quebec and the Maritimes (PEI wasn’t included in the poll because of small sample size). However, those premiers, including Couillard, McNeill, Gallant, and Ball, have been in power the longest, allowing more time for their approval rating to drop. Couillard’s approval rating history, shown below, is broadly representative of approval ratings for premiers today: they start out strong for a while, but then drop to somewhere in the 30s after enough time has passed.Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Approval RatingThings can, however, get worse. Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating bottomed out at 19%, coincidentally the popular vote she received in an election where it was a foregone conclusion that her Liberal Party would lose – bearing the weight of numerous unpopular policy choices (Hydro One sell-off and hiked energy prices) and scandals (e-health, ORNGE, power plants) stretching back to the McGuinty era.

Ford’s 40% approval rating is, interestingly, also the popular vote he received in the recent Ontario election – good enough to form a majority in the Canada’s first-past-the-post, ‘winner takes all’ electoral system. The polarizing Doug Ford’s approval rating is quite low for an initial measurement, tying Brian Gallant for the lowest initial approval rating of premiers currently in power.