A new online poll of 2,000 adults by Abacus Data suggests that Justin Trudeau has survived elbowgate largely unscathed.
The prime minister's inadvertent elbowing of NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau last week attracted wall-to-wall coverage from the Ottawa media.
Postmedia national-affairs columnist Andrew Coyne repeatedly used the word "erratic" on the CBC At Issue panel to describe Trudeau's conduct. CBC Radio's The House put elbowgate at the top of its agenda. And national newscasts hosted by Peter Mansbridge, Lisa LaFlamme, and other broadcasters repeatedly led with this story.
However, only 14 percent of poll respondents said they followed it very closely.
"The broad majority of those surveyed (71%) said it had no impact on their view of Mr. Trudeau, 23% said it made them feel worse about him, 6% better," wrote Abacus Data's Bruce Anderson and David Coletto in a statement distributed to the media.
Of those who registered a negative opinion, nearly half voted Conservative in the last election.
Prior to elbowgate, 81 percent agreed with the statement that Trudeau "genuinely cares about other people". That rose to 82 percent after the incident.
Similarly, there was a one percent rise in those who agreed with the statement that Trudeau "sets a good example for young people in Canada".
However, the percentage who agreed that he "handles stress well" fell from 83 to 74 post-elbowgate.
"The reaction inside the 'Ottawa bubble' was disproportionate to the reaction in the country at large," Anderson and Coletto concluded. "It was not, so far anyway, a moment that transfixed voters and shifted the political landscape."
Anderson noted that none of the data suggests that Trudeau acted appropriately or that voters aren't entitled to feel unhappy about his conduct.
"But the data are an important reminder of the risk of overestimating the degree to which regular voters are drawn in and moved by political skirmishing in the nation's capital," he added.
Other news was underplayed
Elbowgate overshadowed far more important stories, such as the National Energy Board's recommendation that the Kinder Morgan pipeline proceed if certain conditions are met. The apology over the Komagata Maru incident became a footnote on the news.
Perhaps not coincidentally, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently reported that the seven months from last October to April have each recorded the hottest average temperature for that month.
In April, the average global temperature on land and at sea was 1.11 °C warmer than during the period from 1951 to 1980.
The recent trend has prompted fears that the Earth could be on the verge of "nonlinear" or "abrupt" climate change, which could cause far more havoc than we've seen already from extreme-weather events.
But that's not likely to move up on the agendas of Canada's national news directors and editors as long as there's video of Trudeau's elbow accidentally jabbing into an NDP MP's chest.
To the national media corps, an "erratic" prime minister is worthy of far more attention than an erratic climate.