Tories hold lead while NDP surges
Prime Minister Stephen Harper talks with supporters as part of his election campaign tour in Saskatoon April 15, 2011. (REUTERS/David Stobbe)
OTTAWA - Stephen Harper's Conservatives continue to enjoy a commanding lead among decided voters but Jack Layton's NDP is surging and, in many parts of the country, has eclipsed Michael Ignatieff's Liberals as the second most popular party, according to a new poll done exclusively for QMI Agency.
With two weeks of campaigning left ahead of the May 2 vote, the new Leger poll indicates that Harper still does not have the kind of support that would win him the majority he says he wants. And the surprising NDP strength sets up a fierce battle for the hearts, minds, and votes of the anybody-but-Conservative crowd. The Liberals, in the meantime, appear to be spinning their wheels.
"The only person really happy about this poll would be Jack Layton," said Christian Bourque of polling firm Leger Marketing.
Overall, the Conservatives are the choice of 38% of decided voters polled by Leger Marketing over the weekend, up a point from Leger's last poll on April 4.
The Liberals are holding steady with 26% voter support, unchanged from two weeks ago but also unchanged from their level of popular support on election day in 2008. The NDP is at 22%, a jump of four percentage points in the last two weeks, according to Leger. The Green Party has lost three percentage points and has the support of 5% of voters.
In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois is still the leading choice but has seen its support drop five percentage points in two weeks to 34% - a near a historic low - while the NDP has surged by six points in that province to 24% and the NDP is now Quebec's most popular federalist party.
Layton's performance in the French language debate Wednesday appears to have won him new fans in the province where, right now, his party has just one seat.
"There's a 'love factor' for Jack Layton in Quebec," Bourque said.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, on the other hand, is suffering from a perception that he and his party are overconfident and arrogant, Bourque said.
"He's trying to put the booster cables on his campaign but, so far, there's not much spark there," Bourque said.
Still, pollsters and pundits say it will still be tough for the NDP to cash in on Layton's popularity with new seats in the House of Commons, a result of the way federalist votes will split in ridings the Bloc now holds.
In Quebec, Liberals and Conservatives are tied at 20%, unchanged since Leger's last poll on April 4.
The poll was conducted April 15 to 17, after last week's leaders debates. Leger surveyed 3,534 respondents selected randomly from its online panel of more than 350,000 Canadians. The pollster says results would be accurate to within 1.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20 for a similar-sized group selected randomly from among all Canadians.