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Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault walks to a restaurant in Riviere-du-Loup Que., Wednesday, August 15, 2012.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

No need to guess why Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest has aggressively turned his guns against François Legault, leader of the new Coalition Avenir Québec. A new poll shows Mr. Legault's party is eating into the Liberal vote. And Quebeckers now rate Mr. Legault as the best candidate for premier.

The poll, conducted by CROP for La Presse between Sunday and Tuesday, shows the Parti Québécois's Pauline Marois has widened her lead over Mr. Charest's Liberals. And the CAQ is catching up.

It concluded 34 per cent intended to vote for the PQ, 27 per cent for Mr. Charest's Liberals, and 25 per cent for the CAQ. (That's after the pollster allocated undecided voters, who made up a sizable 19 per cent of respondents.) CROP surveyed 1,005 Quebeckers for the poll, which makes it statistically accurate within 3.1 percentage points.

And for the first time, Mr. Legault was ahead in the "best premier" ratings, with 25 per cent. Both Mr. Charest and Ms. Marois were at 23 per cent – a decline of three and two percentage points, respectively.

Slicing into the results makes it look even worse for Mr. Charest. Among francophone voters, the key demographic in virtually all swing ridings that might change hands, the PQ has 39 per cent, the CAQ 26 per cent, and the Liberals only 21 per cent.