|Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois. (QMI Agency/Joel Lemay)
MONTREAL - After four nights of debates watched by almost 20% of the province's population, the separatist Parti Quebecois remained Quebec's most popular party, with 33% of the vote, in a new poll conducted exclusively for QMI Agency.
Leger Marketing polled 1,929 Quebecers over 18 years of age, between Aug. 22 and 24.
If an election had been held Friday, the upstart right-of-centre Coalition Avenir Quebec, which promises to cut at least 7,000 public sector jobs, would come in second at 28%, a one-point jump since the last Leger poll.
The Quebec Liberal Party headed by Jean Charest, dropped a point and would come in third, at 27%
Head of Leger Marketing, Jean-Marc Leger, said "it is the first time since Confederation" that the Liberals are polling in third place.
The PQ vote total did not change since the last Leger poll, published on Aug. 17, and it would give the party a minority government.
The Leger poll is the first major poll conducted after four nights of debates, the last of which, between PQ Leader Pauline Marois and CAQ Leader Francois Legault, was watched by close to 1.5 million people. Sunday night's debate was seen by more than 1.6 million people.
Legault came out the winner after all four debates, 21% of respondents said. Marois was second, at 15% and Charest third with 14%
The CAQ continued to poll strongly in the Quebec City metropolitan area with 46%. The Liberals, which have traditionally lead in the Greater Montreal Area, are now tied with the PQ at 32%. However, the Liberals still polled at 45% on the island of Montreal.
Montreal's north and south shores, however, went PQ, at 39% compared to Liberals at 18%.
The Liberal party continues to have its strongest support among voters over 65 years old, with 46% of the vote. The CAQ polled between 27-32% among voters 18-64. And the PQ has high support among the youth, at 35%, and people aged between 55-64 years, with 40% of the vote.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Leger selected its respondents from its Internet panel, which includes 185,000 Quebecers.