RACE TIGHTENS ON EVE OF DEBATE - April 13, 2011
NDP SHOWING STRENGTH
[Ottawa – April 13, 2011] – In polling conducted early this week, voters appear to be backing away from a Conservative majority and are now looking more carefully at other options. In what is the tightest period of the race so far, the 11-point cushion that Conservatives had in the opening days of the campaign has been replaced with a scant 5-point lead.
Their comfortable and seat-efficient Ontario margin of 10 points has basically vanished and, at these numbers, the Conservatives would be looking at a significantly diminished minority.
The Conservatives are now at 33.8 points nationally – down from the outset of the early campaign where they were at 36.9 points. They are now more than three points shy of the last election and showing newfound weakness in the key regions of Ontario and British Columbia. Meanwhile, the Liberals are moving up steadily (if unspectacularly) and are now tied in the crucial Ontario market and newly competitive in a tight four-way race in British Columbia.
The other main story of this poll is that the claimed demise of the NDP is clearly premature. The New Democrats are showing important new strength, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia where they now lead. The NDP have risen steadily since the outset of the campaign (interestingly, not at the expense of the Liberal Party). Bloc support, meanwhile, continues to be off somewhat in Quebec but no real clear federalist champion has emerged. Elizabeth May’s Green Party has rebounded somewhat with Canadians and her party continues to do very well with voters under 25.
It is quite possible that the announcement of a draft Auditor General’s report suggesting inappropriate G8/G20 spending has accelerated a more placid tightening of the race that we observed at the conclusion of last week. There are also some very interesting insights evident in the shifting demographic constituencies for the parties. The Conservatives are displaying a highly divided generational split. Indeed, they have more than twice as much support among seniors as they do with youth while youth appear unable to find a party to rally behind. Women voters are defecting from the Conservative Party and there is now a very large gender gap. The NDP, meanwhile, is doing very well with women and has broadened its demographic constituency. The Liberals are doing best with the university educated and non-Canadian born and have made modest improvements among female voters.
Measures of enthusiasm and commitment still show the Conservatives with a major advantage but the gap seems to be eroding somewhat. The NDP, in particular, are showing more enthusiasm, perhaps in response to the NDP platform. Despite growing support and some modest gains, the Green Party vote is still plagued by a tendency by its supporters to defect to other parties or not vote. It appears now that Green Party support will be around or slightly higher than the levels of 2008.
All in all, the race is reaching a very interesting and dynamic midpoint which could still yield some major surprises on May 2nd.
Click here for the full report: full_report_april_13_2011