All three major national political parties have reason to be encouraged by the latest weekly tracking poll from Nanos Research, and all three have reason to be concerned.
Nationally, the numbers show little movement in this unprecedented three-way race for government. Stephen Harper's Conservatives, at 31.8-per-cent support, are about where they've been for a number of weeks. The NDP may be starting to drift lower, at 29 per cent this week compared to 30.4 per cent last week, while the Liberals are stable, at 28.7 per cent compared to 28.6 per cent last week.
But with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, the race continues to be essentially tied.
"With the election so far off in the distant future, there's no real reason for Canadians to make a decision," Mr. Nanos said in an interview. August is mere overture in an election campaign that still has nine more weeks to go.
But regionally there are strong variations, although, with much higher margins of error, caution is called for. The Liberals are doing well in Atlantic Canada, with 45-per-cent support, although the NDP is trending upward at 38 per cent. The Conservatives trail at a dismal 16 per cent.
But on the West Coast, it's the NDP who are in command, with 39-per-cent support in British Columbia. The Liberals and Conservatives are essentially tied, at 28 and 26 per cent, respectively.
The NDP also remains strong in Quebec, with 35-per-cent support, though the Liberals are starting to close the gap. They sit at 30 per cent. The Conservatives are down at 12 per cent and the wild-card Bloc Québécois sit at 17 per cent.
Mr. Nanos noted that the Liberal scores in Quebec have been improving incrementally over a number of weeks. Another consideration is whether the BQ will become popular enough to act as a spoiler for other parties, "particularly the New Democrats."
But the Conservatives can take solace in the Ontario numbers, The Tories enjoy 42-per-cent support in the province that accounts for 121 of the 338 House of Commons seats. The Liberals are well back at 29 per cent and the NDP is at 23 per cent.
"Ontario is the one bit of good news for the Conservatives," said Mr. Nanos. "Their key to victory is Ontario, for all intents and purposes."
The Conservatives also dominate the Prairies, (53 per cent to 20 per cent for the NDP and 19 per cent for the Liberals), as they always do.
So every party has a major region in which it's strong, or can feel good about the momentum in a region where it's been weak.
That said, Mr. Nanos added, "We have to hedge our comments. The election is a long ways off, and a lot of things can happen."
Each week, Nanos interviews 250 Canadians live by phone, using both land lines and mobile phones. Four weeks are combined to produce the weekly tracking number, with the oldest tranche dropped and a new one added each week.