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[Ottawa – May 20, 2010] – The gap between the governing Conservatives and the second place Liberals is now fractions of a percentage point short of 10%. Although Conservative growth and Liberal slippage has been glacial through the spring, the direction of support for the two parties since the winter is clear: Conservatives up, Liberals down.

“The fact that this change has occurred slowly over more than three months gives us confidence that this is a real and entrenched trend,” said EKOS President Frank Graves. “The opening of the gap between the two parties, who were essentially tied in January, has been due more to Liberal loss in support than to Tory gains. The Liberals are now at their lowest sustained level for many years, perhaps ever. At these levels the Liberals would be unlikely to win as many seats as they have now.

Two areas of Conservative strength and Liberal weakness are especially striking. The Conservatives have retaken a statistically significant lead in Ontario. Equally hopeful for the governing party is the fact that it is leading in many urban areas, which had been a powerful reservoir of support for the Liberals in recent years. Even Toronto seems to be shaping up as more of a contest than it has been in two decades.

The Liberals can no longer claim the lead in any region of the country. The Tories’ prospects, meanwhile, seem favourable in every region in the country, except Quebec.

What is unusual about these trends is that they are occurring at a time when most Canadians say they are unhappy about the direction of the government, and much of the political news lately would seem on its face to be negative for the government.

Another striking finding is the strength of the Greens. Although the Green party has trouble getting its voters to the polls, so this figure may inflate its true strength, its growing support represents a failure by the Liberals and the NDP to attract a significant class of voters who are unhappy with the government.

“You’d think the more traditional opposition parties might benefit from the shocking oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Graves. “But if the oil spill is having any political effect here it has been to buttress the Greens.”

Click here for the full report: full_report_may_20

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