Like Father, Like Son: Justin Trudeau and Valence Voting in Canada’s 2015 Federal Election
by Harold D. Clarke, University of Texas at Dallas, Timothy B. Gravelle, University of Strathclyde, Thomas J. Scotto, University of Strathclyde, Marianne C. Stewart, University of Texas at Dallas, Jason Reifler, University of Exeter
Canada’s 2015 federal election was an exiting, if nostalgia provoking, contest. After nine years in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the governing Conservatives were defeated by the resurgent Liberals led by Justin Trudeau. Trudeau is son of Pierre Trudeau, perhaps Canada’s best known prime minister. Analyses of national survey data demonstrate that party leader images—a major component of the “valence politics” model of electoral choice—were important in both cases. Unlike his father, Justin Trudeau was castigated as a “lightweight” and “just not ready.” However, articulating plausible policies to jump-start Canada’s sluggish economy and espousing “sunny ways,” the younger Trudeau was warmly received by many voters. In contrast, Harper’s image of managerial competence was tarnished by bad economic news and his attempt to refocus the campaign on emotionally charged cultural issues failed. The result was a Liberal majority government and a prime minister named Trudeau.