Trudeau’s Liberals extend national polling lead over Tories

Special to The Globe and Mail

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds a child in Burlington, Ont., June 20, 2013. (Philip Cheung For The Globe and Mail)

Despite a volatile two months of politics on Parliament Hill, national support for each of the federal parties remains firm, with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals enjoying a wide lead over the governing Conservatives.

The latest weighted aggregation of all polls shows the Liberals at 36 per cent support nationwide, with the Conservatives trailing at 29 per cent and the New Democrats at 23 per cent. The Greens and Bloc Québécois round out the list with 6 and 5 per cent support, respectively. These numbers are unchanged from the last aggregation of early May, shortly after Mr. Trudeau was named Liberal leader but before the Senate scandals had emerged.

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The problems the government has had related to the Red Chamber may have prolonged Mr. Trudeau’s honeymoon, as his party has led in 12 consecutive national polls stretching back to just before the Liberal leadership race came to a close in April. The Conservatives, meanwhile, have been at or below 30 per cent in seven consecutive polls and 10 of the last 11.

A Liberal minority?

With these levels of support, and due to regional fluctuations since the beginning of May, the Liberals would likely win about 120 seats if an election were held today. The Conservatives would take 112 and the New Democrats would win 71. That is a drop of three seats for the Tories since the last projection, while the Liberals have picked up five and the NDP two. The Bloc Québécois would only be able to retain three of their five seats, while the Greens have an opportunity to win a second seat.

With the House expanding to 338 seats, the Liberals would likely win 137 on the new electoral map, the Conservatives 123, and the NDP 74. The new boundaries are most beneficial to the Liberals, as they take 17 of the 30 new ridings, compared to 11 for the Conservatives and three for the NDP (the shifting districts cost the Bloc a seat). The Liberals boost their haul by 10 in Ontario, due in large part to their growing support in the GTA.

The regional breakdown: Ontario and Quebec

Though the Liberals have seen a surge in support under their new leader throughout the country, their gains in Ontario are the most electorally consequential. The Liberals have led or been tied for the lead in nine of the last 11 polls in the province, and are currently averaging about 39 per cent support. The Conservatives have slipped to 33 per cent, while the NDP is holding steady at 21 per cent in the province.

The New Democrats continue to falter in Quebec, however. Though they are only down one point to 26 per cent since early May, they have been bleeding support to the Liberals since the fall. Mr. Trudeau’s party has led in 15 consecutive polls in the province, and has posted 40 per cent support or more in five of the last nine. The NDP, on the other hand, has registered below 30 per cent support in 13 of the last 19 polls in Quebec.

Nevertheless, the NDP is in a decent position to hold the majority of their seats as the Liberals do not have a strong presence outside of their traditional urban strongholds in and around Montreal. Most of the riding battles in 2011 were between the NDP and the BQ in Quebec, and the sovereigntist party has been shedding support. Averaging only 18 per cent, they have recorded less than 20 per cent support in eight of the last nine polls, and have been at 15 per cent or lower in four of the last six. Their best hope to win a couple of seats lies in a split of the vote between the Liberals and NDP.

The Conservatives are not much of a factor in the province, averaging 11 per cent and being awarded support in the single digits in six of the last 11 polls. But because of the NDP’s drooping support and the lack of a Liberal base in most of their seats, the Conservatives would have a good shot at seeing most or all of their Quebec MPs re-elected with these numbers.

Quebec is a particularly interesting battleground, as the projection model suggests the Liberals would be within three points of the NDP in six ridings at these levels of support, and within five points of the NDP, Bloc, and Conservatives in 12 ridings. Along with some close races in Ontario, if things went Mr. Trudeau’s way in an election where these polls were reflected at the ballot box, he could win as many as 149 seats – five short of a majority.

Greens in contention for another seat

Elsewhere in the country, the Conservatives continue to hold a strong lead in Alberta and the Prairies, while Atlantic Canada has strongly swung over to the Liberals (they have been at or above 50 per cent in seven of the last 11 polls in the region). British Columbia is a close contest, with the three parties separated by only two points and the Greens experiencing an uptick. With their provincial counterparts’ victory in a Victoria-area riding in May’s election, and considering the federal party’s strong showing in last year’s by-election, they could be in contention for a second seat in B.C.

Of course, the next election remains more than two years away. This time two years ago, the Conservatives had an 11-point lead over the NDP and had more than twice the support of the Liberals. But poll after poll suggests that the Conservatives have dropped to their lowest levels of support since their 2006 election victory, and their slump seems to be larger than most governments experience at the mid-point of their mandate. With every month that passes, the time remaining for Stephen Harper to right his government’s ship diminishes.

ThreeHundredEight.com’s vote projection model aggregates all publicly released polls, weighing them by sample size, date, and the polling firm’s accuracy record. The seat projection model makes individual projections for all ridings in the country, based on the provincial and regional shifts in support since the 2011 election. Projections are subject to the margins of error of the opinion polls included in the model, as well as the unpredictable nature of politics at the riding level.

Éric Grenier writes about politics and polls at ThreeHundredEight.com .