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Interim Leader Bob Rae concludes his speech the Liberal policy convention in Ottawa on Jan. 13, 2012. (BLAIR GABLE/Blair Gable/Reuters)
Interim Leader Bob Rae concludes his speech the Liberal policy convention in Ottawa on Jan. 13, 2012. (BLAIR GABLE/Blair Gable/Reuters)

The Bob Rae bounce: Liberals continue to gain steam Add to ...

Call it the convention bounce: Bob Rae and his Liberals continue to grab the momentum, according to a second national public opinion poll.

As MPs prepare to return to the House of Commons after a six-week winter break, a new online poll by Abacus Data, released Wednesday afternoon, shows the Liberals have increased their support by three points over the past month while the NDP and Conservative’s popularity has dropped by three points.

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“The Liberals have had a pretty good couple of weeks,” notes Abacus pollster David Coletto. “Mr. Rae has been out there in the public eye, there was a lot of coverage of the [Liberal]convention, while the other opposition parties have been relatively invisible ...”

Earlier this month, the Liberals staged a three-day policy convention that attracted about 3,000 delegates and many headlines. Mr. Rae, the Interim Liberal leader, was ubiquitous that weekend.

Although the Conservatives and NDP are still number one and number two, the Grits are creeping up – the Abacus poll has the Harper Conservatives with the support of 37 per cent of voters compared to the NDP with 28 per cent support and the Liberals at 21 per cent.

The Abacus numbers, meanwhile, are similar to those in the Angus Reid online public opinion poll, released Tuesday. It has the Conservatives at 39 per cent compared to the NDP with 28 per cent and the Liberals at 22 per cent support. Again, the Angus Reid poll shows the Liberals increasing their support at the expense of the NDP.

This new poll also shows that Mr. Rae’s personal popularity is increasing. When asked for a favourable or unfavourable impression of the major leaders, 28 per cent of respondents said they had a favourable impression of Mr. Rae. This is up from 25 per cent in December and 20 per cent in August.

Mr. Harper’s numbers moved, too – 38 per cent have a favourable impression of him compared to 37 per cent in December and 42 per cent in August.

NDP Interim leader Nycole Turmel did not fare as well – 14 per cent of respondents had a favourable impression of her compared to 18 per cent in December and 13 per cent last August.

“Nycole Turmel has been invisible,” says Mr. Coletto. “But it’s not entirely her fault. Bob Rae and the Liberals have just been better at getting attention and being heard. Plus, we know Ms. Turmel won’t be NDP leader, we can’t say the same thing about Mr. Rae and the Liberals.”

The NDP will decide on a new leader March 24 in Toronto. The Liberals will not choose their new leader until sometime in the spring of 2013; it is still unclear whether Mr. Rae will seek the permanent leadership post.

“People pay more attention to him [Mr. Rae]because he could, theoretically, become Prime Minister one day,” says the pollster.

In addition, Mr. Coletto notes that the Tory base is still holding strong for Mr. Harper. “What are controversial issues, like the Wheat Board, the gun registry, and the crime bill, for some Canadians, are gold for their base ...”

He was referring to the government’s decision to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board, scrap the long-gun registry and bring in law and order legislation.

The online poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between January 16 and January 19.

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