According to a recent Angus Reid study Prime Minister Trudeau’s approval rating while low is still better than most of his recent predecessors. It currently stands at 40 percent, not exactly wild popularity.

But, compared to his predecessors, not at all bad. He has been our PM for eight years and if we look at the approval rating of the preceding five PMs at that point in their mandate, he does better than all except Jean Chrétien.

By comparison, his old man, Pierre, was at 32 percent, Brian Mulroney a miserable 12 percent, and Stephen Harper 36 percent. Only Chrétien had the support of most of his countrymen at 54 percent. One might get the impression that after eight years, essentially two terms, Canadians see their prime ministers as past their due dates.

So can we do a little predicting from this past? In all these cases where support was under 50 percent the PMs’ parties lost the ensuing election. Mulroney had resigned before the election, leaving poor Kim Campbell to lead the Conservatives into their worst showing ever. (Mulroney had led the Conservatives to their best showing ever in his initial win). Trudeau the elder lost, but did win the title back after a short interruption by Joe Clark’s Conservatives.

Only Chrétien’s Liberals went on to win after the 8-year mark, however Chrétien himself had resigned, and his party only won a minority, which went on to defeat less than three years later.

If reading from these entrails of the past 50 years means anything, the message for Trudeau might be to quit while he’s ahead. He is more popular than Harper, Mulroney and his father were after eight years, but still has well under half the country behind him. And his party’s share of the popular vote has declined in each of his three elections as leader. Indeed, it has won fewer votes than the Conservatives in the last two. If that trend continues in the next election ???

I have in a previous post spelled out why I think Chrystia Freeland would make an excellent PM, better quite frankly than Justin. So it isn’t as if the party has no alternatives.

Should he hand over the reins? This didn’t seem to help either Mulroney’s Conservatives or Chrétien’s Liberals. It may take a little more than that to keep his party on top. Staying sweet with the NDP may prove to be his party’s best bet.

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