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Liberals at lowest ebb since Ignatieff became leader

[Ottawa – October 8, 2009] – Stephen Harper’s Conservatives could win a majority if an election were held right now, having erased the Liberal Party’s lead among women, the university educated, and Canadians born abroad – demographic groups that were until recently firmly in the Liberals’ domain.

“This is a dramatic setback for the Liberal Party, not confined to any specific group or region,” said EKOS President Frank Graves. “And it appears to be driven by a collapse in Michael Ignatieff’s popularity. Ignatieff has gone from a very positive approval rating when he assumed the leadership less than a year ago to a decisively negative one.”

Only one in five Canadians now approves of the way Mr. Ignatieff is doing his job, compared with about half of Canadians who disapprove.

“This dramatic fall from grace has dragged Liberal support down to the levels it endured under Ignatieff’s predecessor, Stéphane Dion,” said Graves.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harper’s negatives have softened significantly from earlier in the year. And approval for Mr. Harper is solid among Conservative supporters, while support for Mr. Ignatieff among Liberals is at best tepid.

Jack Layton, meanwhile has a mildly positive approval rating from Canadians – an interesting comment on his decision to support the government in recent confidence votes.

The poll, conducted for exclusive release by the CBC, has an extremely robust sample size – much larger than other recent polls – allowing for a detailed picture of patterns of party support.

The Liberals can no longer claim the lead in any region of the country. They are now neck-and-neck with the Tories in Quebec, well behind the Bloc Québécois. The party’s sagging fortunes there may well relate to the recent Coderre affair.

However, in the former Liberal bastion of Ontario, the Liberals now also trail the Conservatives by more than ten percentage points.

What had been bright spots for Mr. Ignatieff since he took over as leader late last year – women voters and the university educated – have tilted into the Conservative camp. Even Canadians born outside Canada – New Canadians, in other words – once bedrock for Liberal majorities in this country, and even a reliable demographic when the party was in opposition, are now almost evenly divided between the two leading parties.

“The only obvious barrier to a Conservative majority at the moment is the public’s antipathy to holding another election,” said Graves. “Indeed, it may be that the Liberals are suffering in part because they have branded themselves around holding an early election while the Conservatives have branded themselves around being stewards of the economy. And our research shows that the economy is the issue. It will be interesting to watch the impact of a newfound plausibility of a majority government on a minority weary but also election-wary electorate.”

Click here to download the full report: 0779-full-report-_october-8_

1 comment to TORIES EDGE INTO MAJORITY TERRITORY – October 8, 2009

  • I am dissappointed with your afterthought one line commentary (mildly positive approval) on Jack Layton and the NDP. The support for Layton when taking into account of the approval and disapproval numbers is shown to be closing in on Harper and significantly better than the numbers for Ignatieff. This could be the precursor for a significant rise in the NDP electoral fortunes as they generally have shown to increase support over the course of an election campaign.