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Politics Parties tangled in three-way tie as Duffy drags on Tories: poll

From left to right, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper

The three main federal parties are in an unprecedented three-way tie, according to a new poll, which also suggests the Mike Duffy trial could be wearing away Conservative support among crucial swing voters.

The weekly tracking poll from Nanos Research indicates a tight race, with all parties comfortably within the 3.1-percentage-point margin of error. When asked who respondents would support if an election were held today, the Conservatives were picked by 30.1 per cent, while the Liberals were supported by 29.9 per cent and 29.1 per cent chose the NDP. The Green Party were the pick of 5.2 per cent of respondents nationally, while the Bloc Québécois had 19 per cent support in Quebec.

The Nanos survey interviews 250 new people each week through random telephone interviews (landline and cellphone), and combines the results into a 1,000-person rolling sample. The most recent interviews took place August 21.

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"Oddly enough, there's actually good news for all the parties in this poll," Nik Nanos said in an interview.

Regionally, the NDP are doing well in their base of Quebec and leading in British Columbia, Mr. Nanos said. The Conservatives, while short of the support that won them a majority in 2011, are leading in their traditional strongholds in the Prairies, as well as in Ontario. The Liberals remain competitive in most regions, and lead in Atlantic Canada.

"There's lots of room for jockeying," Mr. Nanos said. "The close race still highlights that Canadians feel they're faced with imperfect choices between the three main parties."

But as the campaign picks up steam towards the vote on Oct. 19 and Canadians consider their options, the survey does point to cause for concern among Conservatives.

The New Democrats had the highest number of accessible voters in the poll. Forty-nine per cent of respondents said they would consider voting NDP, while 47.2 per cent would consider the Liberals and 38.8 per cent would consider the Conservatives.

The Conservative party, led by Stephen Harper, has hit a 12-month low on that question, which Mr. Nanos points out happened as the Mike Duffy trial gives a glimpse into the operations of the Prime Minister's Office.

"This hasn't had an effect on core Conservative voters, but it may be wearing down on swing voters," Mr. Nanos said.

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And with the influence-peddling trial of former PMO staffer Bruce Carson set to begin on Sept. 8, the Tories may not get a reprieve from the news.

"The final trial will be on election day," Mr. Nanos said.

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