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Regional 'turbulence' underpins Harper's 10-point national lead

Stephen Harper's Conservatives continue to dominate nationally with a 10-point lead over Michael Ignatieff's Liberals but a look into the regional numbers tells a different story as the fourth week of the election campaign begins, according to a new Nanos Research poll.

"It's cool and calm on the national numbers but there is turbulence underneath," Globe and Mail/CTV pollster Nik Nanos said Monday. "And that's what we're going to need to watch in order to understand the distribution of seats that the national outcome provides."

Nationally, there is little change in the horserace with the Conservatives at 39.8 per cent compared to 29.8 per cent for the Liberals. Jack Layton and his NDP have 17.4 per cent support, the Bloc Québécois is at 8.6 per cent and the Green Party is at 3.4 per cent.

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And Mr. Nanos notes that when the Tories are at 61.5 per cent support in the Prairie provinces, as they are now, that helps a lot with their strong national numbers. But scratch below the surface, he says, and take a look at the regional trends.

In Quebec, Mr. Layton and his New Democrats have doubled their showing from the 2008 election. They've gone to a 23 per cent rating, which was tracked on Sunday, from 12.2 per cent support.

The NDP is leading - slightly - the other two federalist parties in the province. The Conservatives have 17.8 per cent compared to 18.3 per cent for the Liberals. The Bloc is at 35.8 per cent.

No surprise, then, that Mr. Layton has been spending much of the post-debate campaign in the province. He is back in Quebec City Monday.

(There is a margin of error of 6.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, in Quebec, according to the three-day Nanos rolling poll, which was completed Sunday.)

In British Columbia, however, Mr. Ignatieff and his Liberals are at 33.5 per cent support - much improved since the 19.3 per cent support they scored in 2008.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, are at 37.1 per cent in the province. They were at 44.5 per cent in the last federal election. The NDP is scoring 20.6 per cent.

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Sunday, Mr. Nanos says, was "a very good day for the Liberals in British Columbia." Both Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Harper were in the province with the race between their two parties tightening.

Mr. Ignatieff had campaigned with former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin. The pair was hammering away at health care, which Mr. Nanos has identified as a key issue of concern among Canadians in this campaign.

And he points out that, "knowing where they are now compared to the last election will probably give us a better idea of seat distribution."

(There is a margin of error of 7.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, in British Columbia.)

In the other key battleground of Ontario, the Conservatives are widening their lead over the Liberals - 45.2 per cent support compared to 36.5 per cent for the Liberals. The NDP are at 14.5 per cent.

The Nanos poll of 991 "decided" Canadians was conducted between April 15 and April 17; it has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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