The Liberals and Conservatives remain in a close contest at the national level, but pollster Nik Nanos said Justin Trudeau appears to have lost support in the Toronto suburbs after the blackface controversy.
The Liberals, at 36 per cent, are locked in a tight national race with the Conservatives, who have 34-per-cent support, according to daily tracking polls. The gap between the two parties is within the survey’s margin of error.
Support for the Liberals took a hit in the days immediately after it was revealed last week that Mr. Trudeau had worn blackface and brownface in at least three incidents up to 2001. Mr. Trudeau has apologized and said the practice of wearing blackface is racist.
Mr. Nanos of Nanos Research, who leads the team that conducts daily tracking polls for The Globe and Mail and CTV, said the drop in Liberal support was particularly pronounced in a region of the country that all parties are intensely courting: the 905.
That region immediately outside Toronto, named for the 905 area code, is home to a couple of dozen suburban seats that often help decide who wins a federal election. In 2011, those ridings went almost unanimously for the Conservatives, helping Stephen Harper secure a majority government. In 2015, voters swung the other way and helped put Mr. Trudeau in power.
Mr. Nanos said a look at the data from the first two weeks of the campaign shows that, while support for the Liberals remains steady in Toronto and everywhere in Ontario, it’s their support in the Toronto suburbs that’s changed. Specifically, he said, the Liberal “advantage” in the 905 was diminished in the wake of the blackface controversy.
He said it shows that voters in that region are particularly sensitive to issues and events from the campaign.
“With the movement that we’ve seen, 905 residents are still looking to make up their mind," Mr. Nanos said.
He also said that, although the margin of error gets larger as you drill down deeper into specific regions of the country, the movement in this case was outside the poll’s margin of error.
In the second week of the campaign, the Liberals fell to 40 per cent from 47 in the first week, while the Conservatives rose to 39 per cent from 31. The margin of error in the first week was 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. In the second week, it was 5.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The other parties’ support remained within the margin of error from week to week.
The latest daily tracking numbers from Nanos Research show the national race remains close. The Liberals have the support of 36 per cent of respondents, and the Conservatives are at 34 per cent. The NDP is at 15 per cent, followed by the Green Party at 10 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 5 per cent and the People’s Party of Canada at 2 per cent.
The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Sept. 23 to 25. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at tgam.ca/election-polls.
Mr. Nanos’s analysis of the trends in the 905 was based on the daily surveys conducted from Sept. 13 to 25.