The surging NDP are now in a statistical tie with the Liberals as they battle to block Stephen Harper’s Conservatives from securing a coveted majority, according to the latest Nanos Research numbers.
With slightly more than a week to go before the May 2 election, the Conservatives are still holding down a 12 percentage point lead nationally at 37.8 per cent support, ahead of the Liberals at 26.1 per cent and the NDP at 23.7 per cent, according to overnight polling data Thursday. The gap between the Liberals and NDP is within the poll's margin of error, meaning it's a statistical tie.
“At this particular level, it’s much more difficult for the Conservatives to form a majority government,” pollster Nik Nanos told The Globe Friday.
Conservative support is down slightly from Wednesday when it stood at 39 per cent -- almost exactly where it stood at the opening of the campaign.
“It’s going to take a few more days to see what happens,” he said.
It’s still unclear whether Conservative support is weakening. But Mr. Nanos pointed out that the Conservatives must be careful to contain fallout from reports about where Mr. Harper and his MPs stand on abortion, as well as allegations of political interference at the Port of Montreal.
“The Conservatives have to watch out on issues such as ethics, accountability and abortion in the last few days of the campaign,” Mr. Nanos explained. “It’s going to be very important for the Conservatives to manage that.”
The Conservatives lead in every region of the country, except Quebec. The party is at 36.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 42.6 per cent in Ontario, 47.6 per cent in the Prairies and 47.8 per cent in B.C.
Mr. Layton is also gaining on Mr. Harper on some key leadership measures, according to the Nanos leadership index. Based on responses collected Thursday, Mr. Harper leads at 88.1 points. Mr. Layton is gaining at 72.9 points. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is a distant third at 44.4 points.
The leadership index is a compilation of peoples’ perceptions of the leaders’ trust, vision and competence.
Mr. Harper still leads on competence, but he’s now tied with Mr. Layton on trust and vision.
“This shows just how popular Jack Layton is in terms of his personal brand,” Mr. Nanos said.
Mr. Nanos pointed out that health care has emerged as the top issue for voters, displacing the economy and jobs -- a trend that favours the NDP and undermines the Conservative’s greatest strength.
The big story continues to the surprisingly strong showing of Jack Layton’s NDP, which is now in a statistical tie with the Liberals for second in Atlantic Canada (31.2 per cent for the NDP vs. 32.6 per cent for the Liberals), and with the Bloc Quebecois for the lead in Quebec (26.3 per cent for the NDP vs. 31.8 per cent for the Bloc).
The margin of error in the poll is 3.1 per cent nationally, and higher for regional numbers.
The NDP is doing a good job of playing up the Jack Layton “brand,” capitalizing on his strong showing in the English and French-language debates earlier this month.
According to results of the poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail, more than half of voters continue to rank party platform as their top deciding factor. That far outstrips those whose decision is based on the party leader (21.2 per cent), local candidate (14.8 per cent) or traditional support for a particular party (8.8 per cent).
The results are based on a random, national telephone sample of 995 decided Canadians conducted between April 19-21. The margin of error is plus-minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.