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The Globe and Mail

Layton's gains in Ontario and B.C. narrow Harper's lead to five points

With only three crucial campaigning days left, Jack Layton and the NDP continue to close the gap on the Conservatives, narrowing Stephen Harper's advantage now in key battlegrounds of Ontario and British Columbia, according to the latest Nanos Research survey.

Given the slim five-point lead for the Conservatives nationally, the NDP and Liberals could win more seats combined than the Tories on May 2 with a "rump" separatist party holding the balance of power, pollster Nik Nanos says.

And while there is no sign of the NDP support softening, it also appears that Mr. Harper's dream of a majority government is now too far out of reach.

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The three-day tracking poll shows the Conservatives with 36.4 per cent support compared to the NDP with 31.2 per cent, up slightly from the day before. The Liberals are at 22 per cent, the Bloc is at 5.7 per cent nationally and the Green Party is at 4 per cent.

While the NDP continues to dominate in Quebec - 41.4 per cent support compared to 23.6 per cent for the Bloc, 16.1 per cent for the Liberals and 15.8 per cent for the Tories - the story in Ontario is changing.

The NDP is continuing to increase its support in the seat-rich province while the Conservatives continue to drop. Overnight, the New Democrats have grown their support to 28.5 per cent from 26.1 per cent.

Notably, Mr. Nanos says, the NDP was at 18.2 per cent support in Ontario in the 2008 election. It is now a full 10 points ahead of that, meaning it is poised to make gains in the province.

The story is not so bright for the Tories, who have dropped to 36.3 per cent from 41.1 per cent. Mr. Nanos suggests the declining numbers explain why the Conservative Leader was conducting a photo op in Niagara Falls on Thursday.

And the Liberals - who have always considered Ontario one of their key strongholds - are statistically tied with the NDP at 29.8 per cent support, up from 27.9 per cent. The margin of error in the province is plus or minus 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

In British Columbia, too, the NDP march continues upward. Its strength has grown to 35.2 per from 26.9 per cent. The Conservatives, however, are waking up to a slight decrease of support in that province - dropping to 43 per cent from 45.3 per cent.

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The Liberals have also dropped significantly to 18.2 per cent from 23.1 per cent. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 in the B.C. sample.

The parties are in a tight three-way race in Atlantic Canada - 29.2 per cent support for the Conservatives compared to 25.8 per cent for the NDP and 35.4 per cent for the Liberals. The margin of error there is plus or minus 9.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

And in the Prairies, the Conservatives have picked up strength - 60 per cent support compared to 53.8 per cent the night before. The other two parties are far behind, with the NDP at 22.8 per cent and the Liberals at 13.3 per cent. The margin of error is plus or minus 6.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The poll of 1,021 Canadians was conducted between April 26 and April 28. The national numbers have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.‬

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