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Prime Minister Stephen Harper rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on March 20, 2013.ADRIAN WYLD/The Canadian Press

Stephen Harper is the most trusted federal political leader in Canada but his numbers are falling fast, according to a new poll.

The Nanos Research Survey asked 1,000 Canadians which federal political party leader they liked best based on three leadership qualities: trust, competence and vision. The most recent telephone survey was conducted Feb. 19-24, and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

On all three questions, Mr. Harper was the most frequent pick by respondents, but the margin has narrowed in recent months. He was chosen by 23.8 per cent of respondents as the leader they trust most, putting him seven points ahead of the NDP's Thomas Mulcair. But for Mr. Harper, that was a drop of 4.5 percentage points from January. Likewise, his competency score dropped 6.4 points to 31.7 per cent and he was picked as the leader with the best "vision for Canada" by 21.3 per cent of respondents, down 10 points from the month before.

That gives Mr. Harper one of the lowest leadership scores he's had in the Nanos survey since 2008, except for a low point last year when Mr. Mulcair was first elected leader.

"This should be a big concern to the Conservatives," said Nik Nanos, chair of the Nanos Research Group. "A lot of their brand is built around Harper and his reputation as a steady hand on the economy and a competent leader."

Mr. Nanos said the drop in the vision score was likely because of the absence of a major policy push, suggesting Mr. Harper's vision ratings could bounce back if the party made a bold priority.

A recent analysis of polls by ThreeHundredEight's Éric Grenier found support for the Conservative Party has steadily slid since the 2011 election.

The leadership survey does not present a clear winner picking up support while Mr. Harper's declines. Mr. Mulcair's leadership scores have increased the most, followed by the numbers for Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae's support held at almost the exact same level behind Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair, while far behind was Bloc Québécois Leader Daniel Paillé.