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DEBATES HOLD LITTLE SWAY ON VOTERS – April 15, 2011

[Ottawa – April 15, 2011] – At the end of Week 3, our tracking reveals clear patterns in the 41st federal election campaign.

Despite the wildly inconsistent results that have come out of other polling organizations, we are very comfortable with our numbers and the well-behaved patterns that have emerged.

Conservatives: While this week’s debates have had no clear influence on vote intention, the Conservatives have widened their lead over the Liberals from 5.0 points on the eve of the English event to 7.5 points during the two days that followed. Virtually all of the support the Conservative Party picked up came from the West — particularly British Columbia. The crucial Ontario race remains a dead heat.

Bloc Quebecois: Bloc support declined during the two days after the debates. Less than a month ago, the party commanded the support of two-fifths of Quebec voters. Its support has since eroded to its lowest levels since 2003 (7.1 per cent post-debate). The numbers have been in decline for several weeks, suggesting the trend is not a statistical anomaly. Fortunately for the Bloc, federalist parties are locked into equal vote splitting. The Bloc has a devoted base, which is key in a province where voters appear to be the least enthusiastically engaged.

Liberals: Liberal support declined insignificantly after the debate, though there is some evidence that they have improved their fortunes in Quebec. This could be very significant because a weakened Bloc is now hanging on with a deepened but fragmented federalist voter base. Unless these forces consolidate around one of the three choices, these votes will not produce many federalist seats.

NDP: The New Democrats are the only ones to improve position during the campaign. The party continues to lead as second choice and is now in a better position than it was at this stage of the 2008 campaign.

The NDP does very well in British Columbia and looks surprisingly strong in Quebec. It is also attracting women’s votes. Less auspiciously for its prospects, the party attracts the highest number of voters who would consider changing their minds. It suggests there are a fair number of strategic voters in their ranks who will weigh options until the final stages of the campaign to see how to best frustrate Stephen Harper’s aspirations.

Greens: The Green Party is holding at the same levels but is by far the party with the lowest levels of commitment and the least likely to vote. Numbers suggest this could produce attrition of roughly one-third of the current support. Whether this vote stays home or goes NDP/Liberal could be a crucial factor in a tight election outcome.

On a final note, current vote intentions appear to be increasingly locked in. Just 7.6 per cent of respondents say they are undecided, 71 per cent say they have no intention of changing their minds. Right now, it would be prudent for parties to target women and residents of Quebec since these are the groups most open to considering another option on May 2.

At the end of Week 3, with attention focused on debates, we see the parties in a very similar position to where they were at the end of last week.

Click here for the full report: full_report_april_15_2011

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