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NDP Leader Jack Layton waves to supporters at a rally Saturday, April 16, 2011, in St.John's, NL. (Jacques Boissinot/ The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot/ The Canadian Press)
NDP Leader Jack Layton waves to supporters at a rally Saturday, April 16, 2011, in St.John's, NL. (Jacques Boissinot/ The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot/ The Canadian Press)

Nanos numbers show Layton gathering steam Add to ...

Jack Layton continues to close the leadership gap with Stephen Harper, and his party's fortunes are improving along with him.

The Nanos Research daily Leadership Index, compiled for The Globe and Mail and CTV, is an aggregate of questions put to voters on their attitudes to party leaders' trustworthiness, competence and vision. The score is watched closely, since changing voter attitudes toward leaders often foreshadow changes in voting intention.

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Since this election campaign began, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has consistently outscored the other leaders on the index. The latest sample, from April 15, continues to show him far ahead, with a combined score of 105.

But individual scores in daily polling matter less than trends over time, and NDP Leader Jack Layton's fortunes have been steadily improving for almost a week. His Friday score of 68 is the highest he has enjoyed since the campaign began.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff also enjoyed an uptick, but one that still left him in third place, with a score of 50.

These trends are born out in the "top line" question of how voters intend to cast their ballots. The Conservatives continue to hold steady, with the support of 39 per cent of voters. The Liberals are 10 points back at 29 per cent-a gap that has changed little since the election began; while the NDP continue a week-long upward trend that reached 19 per cent support on Friday.

All in all, encouraging news for Mr. Layton. For Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff, it's steady-as-she-goes, whether they want to go that way or not.

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