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With Ignatieff 'in the mud,' Harper sheds support in Quebec and B.C.

Liberal leader Michael Ingatieff shades his eyes while listening to questions during an election campaign town hall meeting in North Vancouver, British Columbia April 17, 2011.

ANDY CLARK/REUTERS

Stephen Harper will lose seats in Quebec, is dropping support in British Columbia and will likely not form a majority government on May 2, according to a new Nanos Research poll.

Michael Ignatieff, meanwhile, isn't faring much better: "In a way the Liberal campaign is spinning its wheels in the mud," pollster Nik Nanos says. The Liberal Leader's support nationally - no matter what he does or what he says - has not moved since the beginning of the campaign.

Mr. Nanos's three-day rolling poll, released Tuesday morning, has the Conservatives at 39.8 per cent - exactly where they were Monday - and the Liberals with 30.2 per cent, just up from the day before. Jack Layton and the NDP are at 17.3 per cent support nationally; the Green Party is at 3.1 per cent and the Bloc is at 8.6 per cent. There are 15.7 per cent undecided.

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Mr. Nanos says the Conservative support will not likely win Mr. Harper his coveted majority government because of the way in which the vote is spread across the country. He has strength in the Prairie provinces but his support is way down in Quebec - at 15.4 per cent compared to 25 per cent when the campaign began last month. The Conservatives have 11 seats in the province - seats that Mr. Nanos now predicts will be in jeopardy.

The Liberals are at 21 per cent in the province and then there's the so-called "Layton effect." The NDP is at 23 per cent, poised to keep its Outremont seat and perhaps win one other in the province. The Bloc remains strong at 36.2 per cent support. (The margin of error for the Quebec regional data is plus or minus 6.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

In British Columbia, where the Conservatives had been leading for most of the campaign, Mr. Harper is now in a fight with the Liberals - 36.4 per cent compared to 34.1 per cent for Mr. Ignatieff, which is slightly higher than the Liberals were in the last election. (The margin of error in B.C. is plus or minus 7.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

The only good news for the Conservatives is in Ontario where they lead the Liberals - 46 per cent support compared to 36.9 per cent. The NDP is at 12.5 per cent in the province. (The Ontario margin of error is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

Mr. Ignatieff's Liberals have hovered around 28 to 31 per cent support nationally since the campaign began. The Conservative campaign, meanwhile, has not stopped since 2008. Mr. Nanos argued the Liberals were hurt by their decision not to take on the Tories over their pre-writ television attack ad campaign. For the Grits to think they could catch up during the short period of an election campaign was "wishful thinking," the pollster said.

In terms of what is driving the vote, little has changed there also. The Nanos poll shows that 53.2 per cent of Canadians will cast their ballots based on a party's policies; 22.4 per cent say the party leader influences their vote compared to 13.2 per cent who vote for their local candidate.

The poll of 1,012 was conducted between April 16 and April 18. 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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