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The Globe and Mail

Harper 10 points up in early days of stagnant campaign

Canadians are prepared to send MPs back to Ottawa in virtually the same proportions as last time, according to new Nanos polling numbers.

The results of polling for The Globe and Mail and CTV over the last three days shows support for the political parties is not only similar to the results of the 2008 election, but also virtually unchanged from the last Nanos Research survey 10 days ago - meaning the early days of the campaign have had little impact on voters.

Nationally, the Conservatives are in front with 38.4 per cent. The Liberals are 10 points behind at 28.7 per cent, followed by the NDP at 19.6 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois at 9.1 per cent and the Greens at 4.1 per cent.

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In comparison, a March 15 Nanos survey found the Tories at 38.6 per cent, the Liberals at 27.6 per cent, the NDP at 19.9 per cent, the Bloc at 10.1 per cent and the Greens at 3.8 per cent.

The October 2008 election results saw the Conservatives win 37.6 per cent of the vote, the Liberals 26.2 per cent, the NDP 18.2 per cent, the Bloc 10 had 10 per cent and the Greens at 6.8 per cent.

Pollster Nik Nanos said there's reason for disappointment in the numbers for both the Conservatives and the Liberals.

For the Tories, it shows that so far Stephen Harper's campaign for a majority mandate is not attracting enough support to actually win a majority of seats when Canadians vote again on May 2.

For the Liberals, Mr. Nanos noted that Michael Ignagtieff's team might have expected its numbers to improve with the added attention that comes from a campaign, and the fact that they are now running TV ads in heavy rotation.

"We've gone through the first few days of the campaign [with]some pretty negative attacks on all sides and mudslinging, and it's all been, generally, a wash," Mr. Nanos said in an interview.

Today's poll results are the first of what will be daily poll numbers from Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail and CTV. Each day of results is based on a three day random telephone sample of 1,200 Canadians covering the previous three days (400 interviews a night).

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Mr. Nanos said the main benefit of nightly tracking is its ability to catch trends in order to asses the direction of the campaign.

Each night a new group of 400 interviews is added to the sample and the oldest group of 400 is dropped, producing a rolling average.

Nanos reports that its margin of accuracy for a survey of 1,200 respondents is plus or minus 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increases with regional numbers, which are drawn from smaller samples.

Regionally, Conservative support rose over the last 10 days in Western Canada - where the party already holds a large number of seats - and held relatively steady in Ontario, where they will need to make gains in order to win a majority.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead with 41.4 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 35.4 per cent and the NDP at 23.2 per cent. In Quebec, the Bloc leads with 36.8 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 22.8 per cent, the Conservatives at 19.7 per cent and the NDP at 17.8 per cent and three per cent for the Greens.

In Ontario, the Conservatives enjoy a 10 point lead with 43 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 32.9 per cent, the NDP at 20.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent for the Greens. In the Prairies, the Tories enjoy a big lead with 53.5 per cent support. The Liberals are second at 24.1 per cent, followed by the NDP (17.4 per cent) and the Greens (five per cent).

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Finally, the Conservatives lead in the important battleground of British Columbia, with 41.5 per cent support. The Liberals trail at 28.2 per cent, followed by the NDP at 21.5 per cent and the Greens have 8.7 per cent support.

The nightly tracking of voter sentiment will also include questions about which issues are most important and impressions of trust, vision and competence when Canadians think of the party leaders.

This latest survey found that when asked which factors are most important in influencing your vote, most Canadians (54.2 per cent) said party policies. Party leader (at 19.7 per cent) was the second factor, followed by the local candidate (12.4 per cent) and traditionally voting for a party (8.9 per cent).

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