Deja blue: Tories lead but lose momentum
Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a campaign rally in London, Ontario April 3, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
OTTAWA - Call it Deja blue.
After one week of campaigning, the country's voters appear lined up almost exactly as they did on voting day in 2008, a vote that produced a minority Conservative government led by Stephen Harper.
A poll done by Leger Marketing exclusively for QMI Agency finds that as the second week of campaigning gets underway, the Conservatives still have a commanding lead over their nearest rivals but their momentum has slipped slightly compared to Leger's pre-election poll.
Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff's Liberals have edged up after Week 1 while support for other parties is at about the same spot is was before the election was called.
Leger found that, among decided voters, 37% would vote for the Conservative candidate in their riding; 26% would vote Liberal; 18% would for Jack Layton's NDP and 8% would vote for Elizabeth May's Green Party. In Quebec, Gilles Duceppe's Bloc Quebecois is on top with 39% support; the Conservatives and Liberals are tied at 20%; the NDP is at 15% and the Greens are at 6%.
Those levels of support almost exactly mirror the popular vote received by the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP in the 2008 general election despite the first-week blitz of television advertising and leaders' tours which touched down at least once in all 10 provinces.
"This is a bit of Groundhog Day compared to 2008," said Christian Bourque of Leger Marketing. "It does have that deja vu feel."
But compared to a Leger poll published March 26, and taken before the campaign got underway, Conservative support has dropped by two percentage points and Liberal support is up three percentage points.
The big shift in the last week came in Ontario, Bourque said, where a 10-point Conservative lead has now been halved to five points. In Ontario, 39% are with the Tories, 34% with the Liberals, 17% with the NDP and 10% with the Greens.
Still, Leger found that 43% of its survey respondents said they may still change their vote before election day on May 2, setting up the possibility of some big shifts in support after the debates on April 12 and 14 or in the final few days of campaigning.
"Things have not gelled yet for any particular party," Bourque said.
"There are still a lot of people who can change their minds."
Leger surveyed 3,549 people who were randomly selected from its panel of 345,000. The online poll was taken over four days ending Saturday night.
The pollster says its margin of error for the national results is comparable to 1.7%, 19 times out of 20. For its Quebec results, Leger surveyed 1,118, for a comparable margin of error of 3%.