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NDP makes gains as Tories, Liberals hold steady

Jack Layton is closing the gap between his New Democrats and Michael Ignatieff's Liberals in the wake of the televised leaders' debates, according to a new Nanos Research poll.

The NDP Leader appears to be getting the biggest bump from debate week, as Stephen Harper's support remains steady and Liberal support weakens.

Nationally, Mr. Harper and his Tory team are at 38.7-per-cent support - 10 points ahead of the Ignatieff Liberals, who are at 28.8 per cent. The NDP, meanwhile, are at 18.6 per cent - 10 points behind the Liberals. This compares to where the NDP were a week ago when there was about a 17-point gap between Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton. The Bloc is at 9 per cent and the Green Party has 3.7-per-cent support.

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"The trend to watch now is the relationship between Liberal and New Democrat support," Globe and Mail/CTV pollster Nik Nanos said.

A potential narrowing of the gap is important to watch because of the "implication for vote-splitting," he said. A split between the Liberal and NDP would most likely benefit the Conservatives.

In Ontario the NDP are at 18.2 per cent. But there is a real "dogfight" developing between the Conservatives and Liberals, who are tied in the province..

Mr. Harper and his team have 39.7-per-cent support in Ontario, compared to 39.2 per cent they had in the 2008 election. The Liberals, however, are at 39-per-cent support, up from 33.8 per cent in 2008, when they lost seats in the province to the Tories.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are at 38.7 per cent having slipped in one day from 40.8 per cent. The Liberals are at 26.6 per cent - they dropped, too, from 28.7 per cent. The NDP is at 23 per cent, up from 22.4 per cent.

Mr. Harper, meanwhile, was seen to perform well in the debates, but this is not reflected in the Nanos poll.

"Stephen Harper did very well the day after the English debate in the Nanos leadership index but it did not convert into extra support," he said. "This is the second day and it still has not converted into an increase in support. Now the debate fallout relates to the NDP and Liberal support."

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Mr. Nanos said that will take another day of polling for that to "play out."

In Quebec, the Bloc is on an upward trend after the French-language debate; its support has gone up to 37.3 per cent from 32.5 per cent, in one day. The three federalist parties are statistically tied: 20.9 per cent for the Conservatives, 18.4 per cent for the Liberals and the NDP are at 18.1 per cent. The margin of error is plus or minus 6.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Nanos poll of 1,020 decided Canadians was conducted between April 12 and April 14; it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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