Polling suggests little blowback over Trudeau blackface

Montreal (AFP) –


Images of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in blackface makeup have not significantly swayed voters ahead of the October 21 election, according to a new poll Monday.

The Liberal leader's re-election campaign seemed to hit the skids after three separate images of him in brown and blackface makeup emerged one month before the vote.

The photographs and footage were taken of Trudeau at a high school talent contest belting out a Harry Belafonte hit, at a rafting event in the early 1990s and at an "Arabian Nights" party at a school where he taught 18 years ago.

They quickly went viral, particularly in the United States where blackface is considered openly racist.

While Trudeau's reputation took a hit, Abacus Data's survey showed his electability remains intact, with only 12 percent of respondents saying they had considered voting Liberal but no longer, or were not likely to now.

Abacus found that 76 percent of 1,929 Canadians interviewed from September 18 to 22 weren't bothered by seeing their prime minister in blackface or accepted his apology.

"Mr. Trudeau's reputation was damaged, albeit perhaps less than might have been surmised or expected," said pollster Bruce Anderson.

"The race is close enough that it could make the difference and cause the Liberals to lose office -? but the results also show that Mr. Trudeau's apology was accepted by many people and that the plurality is inclined to say other issues will have a bigger impact on their choice."

The race remains tight between Trudeau's Liberals with 32 percent overall support versus 34 percent for Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, according to Abacus.

The New Democrats and Greens trail at 15 and 11 percent, respectively.

Trudeau's personal ratings slipped over the past week, but so did those of all other political leaders.

In fact Scheer, a rookie leader who has been unrelenting in attacking Trudeau over ethics lapses, saw his own popularity dip to a new low.

Twenty-four percent of those polled said they were truly offended by the blackface images, but most of them were already set to vote Conservative.

The 12 percent of one-time Liberal backers turned off by the scandal were mostly younger (under 45). Less than one-third self-identified as members of a visible minority.

The survey has a 2.3 percent margin of error.