CAQ's focus on nationalism over 'kitchen table issues' could drive voters away: analyst

Support for the Coalition Avenir Quebec appears to be slipping, according to a recent poll.

Published Wednesday, the Leger poll found the CAQ's voting intentions had dropped by five points for a new score of 41 per cent.

Meanwhile, there's been a drop in Premier Francois Legault's personal approval rating, with a separate Angus Reid poll reporting his first-ever dip below 50 per cent.

So why the dwindling scores?

It could have something to do with the party's focus on nationalism over other issues, says one analyst.

"With this nationalist pride slant the CAQ has been pushing over the past few weeks, a lot of people are thinking, 'Well, what about the real problems that we're going through, like inflation and health care?'" said David Heurtel, political analyst and former Liberal MNA.

Health care appears to be of particular importance to Quebecers.

In yet another June poll from Angus Reid, 73 per cent of those surveyed said the current government is doing a "poor job" when it comes to public health.

Fifty-nine per cent of Quebecers counted health care as their top issue, second only to inflation, which came in at 63 per cent. Climate change came third at 31 per cent.

The party is still far ahead in the polls, with the Quebec Liberals a full 23 points behind. Still, analysts say the decline is notable and could dampen the party's performance in the October election. 

Speaking to CTV News on Thursday, Heurtel said those concerned with said issues might be pushed to cast their votes elsewhere.

"The former PQ [Parti Quebecois] governments used to get in that trap of getting all about nationalism and forgetting about the kitchen table issues," he said.

"And I think the CAQ is going to want to be very careful about falling into that trap and opening the door to either the Liberals or the Conservatives."

Quebec pride has dominated much of the CAQ's campaign as of late, underscored by the introduction of controversial language law Bill 96.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Legault is faring higher among French speakers than English speakers.

"Four in five (83 per cent) English-speaking Quebecers disapprove of Legault while more than half (53 per cent) of French-speakers instead approve of him," the Angus Reid poll says.

Nevertheless, Legault's approval rating is waning among French speakers too -- it's down four points in that population since March 2022.

According to Heurtel, the CAQ's recent appointment of a certain pair of candidates could be scaring voters off.

Candidates Bernard Drainville and Caroline St-Hilarie, introduced earlier this month, both have ties to the sovereigntist movement.

"When you delve deeper into that [Leger] poll, CAQ voters are split evenly on the separation question, 43-42," Heurtel said.

"So there's a lot of former Liberals that went over to the CAQ in 2018 who are now saying, well, maybe I have to reconsider."

The CAQ has denied accusations that it intends to hold a referendum on Quebec independence.

La CAQ perd 5%, mais demeure à 23% d’avance sur le PLQ.#Leger360 #Legault #caq #polqc

— Léger (@leger360) June 22, 2022


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