Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives made a strategic decision to move to the political center, based on the reality that right-leaning parties in Canada have an accessible voter base of about 40%. The only way the political right has been able to win is because votes on the left have been split between the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens.
This has put the Conservatives in a precarious position. Any vote split on the right has been a disaster, and now even winning with a united right is seen as difficult.
With the shift of the Liberals toward the radical left under Trudeau, Scheer saw an opportunity to expand his accessible voter base by shifting toward the center. Unfortunately for him and his Conservative supporters, it looks like that strategy has failed. Even with innumerable missteps by Trudeau, Scheer has not gained back the support that was lost to the Liberals in 2015.
The new People’s Party has done a better job of gaining support from the left, and support from Canadians who are becoming increasingly disillusioned with conventional political parties.
The appeal of the PPC to left-leaning voters comes from the party’s opposition to corporate welfare and supply management. These changes make life less expensive for ordinary Canadians while eliminating the perception of favoring big corporations.
The close relationship of the Conservatives and the Liberals with big business also leads to corruption in our government, which has turned off many Canadians from voting at all. The People’s Party is drawing in support from these non-voters, further widening the PPC’s accessible voter base.
A Twitter poll done by PPC candidate Ian Prittie (based on an earlier poll by Penny Steel which showed similar results) shows that only about half of current PPC supporters voted for the Conservatives in the last election.
A Twitter poll I ran (with an admittedly small sample size) showed that current Conservative supporters are much more likely to have voted Conservative in the last election.
If the PPC ends up having an accessible voter base of 50% or more, the party will have succeeded where the Conservatives failed. Maxime Bernier will have created a party that has broad appeal, and which can potentially win even with a vote split on the right.
Even with this natural advantage, the success of the People's Party will depend on raising public awareness of the party between now and the election, and convincing voters on both the left and right that they have a chance to win.