Liberal leadership race hasn’t helped the party, pollster says

A lot of people — here, here and here — have called the Liberal leadership race boring.

Well, that might explain the Liberals' ranking in the latest Abacus Research/Sun News poll.

The survey results suggest that the Harper Tories maintain a small lead over the New Democrats with 35 per cent support nationally (up one point since December). The NDP sit with 31 per cent support (down two points since December) and the Liberals have 21 per cent support (down one point).

Liberal leadership debate -- or talk show?

The national numbers are in-line with recent polls conducted by Forum Research and Angus Reid.

"Although other research, including our own, finds that Canadians say they would vote for a Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party has not benefited yet from their leadership race," Abacus CEO David Coletto noted in the survey report.

"They trail in every province or region of the country except for in Metro Toronto where they have double digit lead over the other main parties."

So why haven't the Liberal's gotten a boost from their highly publicized leadership debates?

[ Related: Liberal leadership candidate says vote for me, even if you aren't Liberal ]

It's become clear that the Liberals are squandering an opportunity to win-over new voters.

Political author and analyst Lawrence Martin really does believe it's because the Liberal debates have been snooze-fests. In a recent column for the Globe and Mail, he encouraged candidates to be more bold.

This is a party in third place – at a historic low. The Liberal brand, most agree, needs rebranding, and you might think this would produce a sense of urgency and some heady, imaginative thinking from the candidates. Such is Justin Trudeau’s perceived lead that the other eight candidates are seen as long shots. They’ve got nothing to lose. They can go for it, throw out some radical ideas, bludgeon the Conservatives, tear a few strips off Mr. Trudeau.

In response to Martin's — and other journos' — criticisms, Trudeau supporter Gerald Butts tweeted this:

Well, not only are Canadians not being entertained by the leadership candidates, the recent surveys show that they're not being inspired by them yet either — at least not by anyone who's not named Trudeau.

[ More Political Points: Senator Mike Duffy responds to growing chorus of criticism ]

And that, in the long run, could pose a problem for 'Canada's natural governing party.'

The Liberal party's next leadership debate will be held in Mississauga, Ont., on Feb. 16.

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