Few Canadians made up their minds in the first 31 days of the federal election campaign, and the three-way race is still wide open. Half of Canadians are still willing to consider voting for any of two or more parties.
There have been tours, rallies, announcements, commercials and even a leaders' debate, but all that hasn't clinched many votes over the course of August. All three major parties remain in a statistical tie – but there's plenty of potential for the race to swing wildly in the seven weeks before the Oct. 19 vote.
Only 44 per cent of those surveyed by Nanos Research indicated they are set on one choice for their vote. That's up only marginally from late July, before the campaign began, when 40 per cent said they are considering only one party. By contrast, 50 per cent of voters are still willing to consider any of two, three or more parties – and another 6.6 per cent say they are unsure, or don't like any party.
There has been interest in the campaign, even in a traditional vacation season, as television networks and news organizations have seen relatively high ratings and readerships for political news. But August has been a preliminary round, not a decisive period.
It was Conservative Leader Stephen Harper who triggered the election more than six weeks earlier than expected, thereby raising campaign spending limits – providing an edge to his party, which has a larger war chest of cash and can spend more on advertising in the final weeks.
But so far, it is Mr. Harper's party that, although still statistically tied in a three-way race, faces a note of concern: their room for growth is more limited than other parties and appears to be shrinking.
The Conservatives are now nominally third in Nanos polling, but the gap between the three major parties is within the 3.1-per-cent margin of error for the telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians. The polls were conducted between Aug. 2 and 28 as a rolling survey of 250 Canadians each week.
Thomas Mulcair's NDP had the support of 30.8 per cent, Justin Trudeau's Liberals 29.7 per cent, and the Conservatives 28.8 per cent. The Tories have slid from 31.5 per cent four weeks ago, but that's still within the margin of error.
But the pool of voters open to casting their ballots for the Conservatives is eroding. Only 37.5 per cent say they would consider voting Conservative, down from 42.2 per cent four weeks ago. That means that the proportion of people who will consider voting for the Conservatives is smaller than the 39.6 per cent who actually voted for the party in 2011.
When asked to provide a second choice for their vote, only 11 per cent chose the Conservatives.
In contrast, both the NDP and Liberals have significantly larger pools of potential voters. The survey found the NDP is the second choice of 22.1 per cent and, overall, 49.5 per cent said they would consider voting for the New Democrats. The Liberals are the second choice of 25.6 per cent, and 46.5 per cent said they would consider voting for the party.
The Conservatives still have the most committed supporters, however: 41.3 per cent refused to identify their second choice, even when asked. NDP supporters are far less definitive: only 14.2 per cent said they have no second choice. And Mr. Trudeau's support seems to have solidified somewhat: In July, only 11.1 per cent of Liberals said they have no second choice; now 19.8 per cent choose only the Liberals.