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Harper slips in leaders' poll after Liberals unveil platform Add to ...

The release of the Liberal election platform and questions surrounding Stephen Harper's bubble campaign aren't doing the Conservative Leader any favours. But they're not doing Michael Ignatieff any favours either.

The Nanos daily tracking poll shows Mr. Harper still strongly ahead of his Liberal and NDP counterparts, though not as robustly as in previous days. His leadership-index score in the wake of Sunday's launch of the Liberal manifesto is trending downward, though the three-day average, which is how rolling polls are best assessed, continues to have him hovering around a score of 100.

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The leadership score is based on questions put to voters on which leader they consider more trustworthy, competent and visionary.

By that measure, NDP Leader Jack Layton has regained second place in the leadership count, polling ahead of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff for three days, though the two are so close as to make second place a distinction without a difference. Both continue to score only half as well as Mr. Harper.

But the Conservative Leader has come under increasing fire from journalists on the campaign trail, who have criticized the Tory machine for ejecting anyone from rallies who isn't certifiably a Conservative supporter, and of limiting the number of questions reporters can ask.

And questions continue to dog Mr. Harper as to why Bruce Carson, a former aide, was allowed to work for him despite his criminal record.

(What critics seem to have forgotten is that it is not Mr. Carson's past that landed him in trouble, but his alleged lobbying activities after he left Mr. Harper's employ.)

There are also tentative questions to be raised about whether overall Conservative support is declining and Liberal support increasing, though again the three-day averages continue to have the Tories hovering around 40 per cent and the Liberals hovering around 30 per cent, with the NDP back at about 16 per cent.

There is an old joke that, in some places, anything that happens twice in a row gets called a tradition. Trends, however, take a bit longer to call.

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