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Polling muddle emerges as MPs return Add to ...

Oh, (sigh) who is a political junkie supposed to believe?

First there was the Ipsos Reid poll published in Canwest newspapers today that suggests the Conservatives have the support of 37 per cent of voters, the Liberals 29 per cent, and the NDP a miserable 16 per cent.

That poll, conducted by telephone between Feb. 18 and 22, also said public opinion of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff had plummeted over the past three months.

But then, along comes this Angus Reid poll (PDF), conducted online on Feb. 25 and 26 that gives the Conservatives 33 per cent of the support, the Liberals 29 per cent and the NDP 20 per cent.

And Angus Reid says three main federal party leaders - Mr. Harper, Mr. Ignatieff and NDP Leader jack Layton - improved their standing during the Olympic break.

"With no activity in the House of Commons over the past few weeks, the three main party leaders posted higher approval ratings than they did in mid-February. Prime Minister and Conservative leader Stephen Harper gained three points and is now at 29 per cent," the polling firm says.

"Liberal Party and Official Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff had the best fortnight of his tenure, and gained four points (19%). However, the NDP's Jack Layton did even better, improving on his mid-February score by seven points (36%). Layton's performance now gets a thumbs up from one third of Canadians."

The Angus Reid poll is expected to accurate reflect the opinions of the Canadian population at large within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

And then there is another new poll conducted by Harris-Decima for The Canadian Press that suggests the Tories and Liberals are deadlocked at 31 per cent each. The NDP had support from 16 per cent of respondents, the Greens had 12 and the Bloc Quebecois was at eight.

"For all the hyperventilating about leads and declines, it appears that the so-called 'new normal' in Canadian politics is a statistical tie between the two main parties," pollster Allan Gregg told The Canadian Press.

"Neither one has been able to capture the federalist vote in Quebec; the Conservatives continue to be locked out of the major metropolitan centres, while the same can be said for the Liberals in the Prairies and in most parts of rural Canada."

The Harris-Decima survey contacted 2,035 people between Feb. 18 and 28 as part of an omnibus telephone survey and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points 19 times in 20.

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