Quebec Liberals widened their lead over the Parti Québécois in voting intentions and PQ support among francophones appeared to be collapsing heading into the final week of the election campaign, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll.
The PQ fell to 28 per cent support, nine percentage points behind the Liberals, as the PQ campaign hit a series of missteps in the wake of two leadership debates where Leader Pauline Marois tried to go on the offensive against her Liberal counterpart, Philippe Couillard.
Compared with another Ipsos Reid survey two weeks ago, the Liberals stood firm at 37 per cent while the PQ slipped four points to 28 per cent. On the strength of robust debate performances by their leaders, both Coalition Avenir Québec and Québec Solidaire rose three points. The CAQ sat at 19 per cent while Québec Solidaire was at 13.
The latest poll, conducted for CTV News, showed francophone support for the PQ dropped seven points while rising three points for the Liberals, leaving the two leading parties tied at 31 per cent – a result rarely seen in Quebec politics. The CAQ was the biggest beneficiary of former PQ francophone supporters, rising three points.
If the result, especially the tie among francophones, holds true for the April 7 vote, it would translate into an easy majority government win for the Liberals.
"It's true, we rarely see the two parties at the same level of support among francophones," said Luc Durand, president of the Quebec branch of Ispos Reid. Mr. Durand added that additional poll results to be released Thursday will help explain the PQ collapse among francophones.
The survey was conducted with an online panel of 1,012 Quebeckers between March 28 and April 1, and has a margin of error of 3.5 per cent. The trend throughout the 2014 campaign has shown the Liberals rising and the PQ falling, with the CAQ dropping and then bouncing back mid campaign.
"The bottom line appears clear: for the PQ to close to the gap, they need to woo Solidaire voters while driving squeamish Liberal voters to the CAQ," Ispos Reid said in a written analysis of the poll.
The poll questioned voters on their level of commitment and pegged the Liberal lead to 12 percentage points among voters most likely to go to the polls. It also found Liberal voters are least likely to change their minds.
"As with most elections heading into the final week before Election Day, the opportunity for change still exists especially with the CAQ being the most-popular second-choice among Liberal-leaning voters," the poll analysis said. "A late campaign surge that pulls Liberal voters to the CAQ could diminish the aggregate Liberal lead with the PQ being the net beneficiaries."