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[Ottawa – April 21, 2011] – As Election 41 grinds it way to an uncertain conclusion, we are seeing some truly surprising developments in the past week or so. Building on a solid if unspectacular rise from the outset of the campaign, Jack Layton’s NDP party is scaling heights not seen since the NDP’s salad days under Ed Broadbent. Moreover, the NDP may be closer to the political elixir of real federal power than they have been since their inception on the federal scene some half century ago. This new dynamic will undoubtedly tax the imagination of pundits and the algorithms of seat forecast models as they try to plot what implications this might have for the next parliament, if these trends were to stabilise, let alone continue to burgeon.

First the basic numbers. The Conservatives continue to hold on to a significant lead at 34.4 points, short of the last election and down from our last poll where they were 37.4. It is highly likely that this shift is a real decline but the fact is that for both the frontrunners, this campaign has been an inconclusive ebb and flow. What is clear is that this level of Conservative support would not secure a majority and would steer the results perilously close to a parliament where not only the opposition would control more seats than the ruling party, but the NDP and the Liberals would control more seats than the Conservatives.

With the spectre of necessary collusion with the Bloc off the table, it is difficult to imagine that some sort of NDP-Liberal coalition wouldn’t transpire. If Mr. Harper has been insistent that anything short of a majority would trigger a coalition, it’s difficult to express surprise that an alliance without the “dreaded” Bloc wouldn’t trigger the scenario he has been cautioning against. It is also difficult to imagine what defence he can jerry rig to argue against the legitimacy of a pact would see him with around one third of the popular vote and significantly fewer seats than what he had when he began to appeal for a majority or his parties defeat.

The Liberals at 24.7 haven’t moved much since our last poll and they are mired around the historical nadir they experienced with Mr. Dion in 2008. They may end up backing into contention in a still on race but it really hasn’t been a product of any rise in their own fortunes. There is some better news lurking in other parts of this poll but they are fortunate to still have any shot at governing given the unexpected permutations of voter support, which brings us to the real story of Campaign 41 – the NDP.
For those who see no real changes in the electorate since the outset of the campaign, ponder our time series. On March 24th, the NDP stood at 14.2 points. Since then, they moved up steadily to around 17 points, then they started closing in on 20 and, in this poll, they find themselves at 24.7, tying themselves with the Liberals and only 9 points shy of the once-distant Conservative Party. This steady progression from “also ran” to contender has been a smooth and steady. It is very uncertain whether it will be sustained or whether it could even advance further.

Notably, while the NDP has grown, they have actually held on to a major advantage on second choice and they now lead all parties by a large margin in terms of their theoretical ceiling (around 50 points). Their rising fortunes have been largely at the expense of the Bloc in Quebec and a flagging Green Party in English Canada. The reality is that these numbers were unimaginable at the outset of the campaign. Whether this is more akin to a Nick Clegg surge and fold or a Bob Rae like shocking ascension to power is very unclear. What is clear is that the race has entered an almost totally unexpected new territory which none of the pundits predicted, but which is clearly evident in our (and others) polling. Which leads to the less positive story of the Green Party and the Bloc, whose stumbling has been the principal fuel of rising NDP fortunes.

For the Green Party, who have not recovered from the body blow of exclusion at the televised debates, they have slipped from around 11 points to 7.8 points. It may be that their supporters, spurned in the debates, and destined for another sterile outcome from the first past the post system, have decided to go to more fertile territory in the NDP. As for the Bloc, this may well be the most stunning feature of this campaign. Most expected a rather boring recitation of past results based on an ineffectual saw off of the three main federalist parties in Quebec. Shockingly, the NDP have how eclipsed a clearly faltering Bloc Quebecois (down nearly 15 points). The only good news for the BQ is that their residual base is firmly committed. They must now hope that vote splitting and a fairly neophyte ground game come to their aid.

Click here for the full report: full_report_april_21_2011


  • There’s still 11 days to go until the election, and in an election campaign that’s a lifetime.
    The NDP traditionally poles higher in the later stages of an election than they do on election day. Right now people are driving around looking for a parking spot. Let’s see where they actually park their vote on election day.
    What is becoming increasingly clear is that there is a growing Anybody But Harper movement among voters and although he will still most probably win the most seats it looks like a majority is not in the cards.

  • Ed

    Actually, this makes sense. Here are some factors, all of which are correlated in some hard to define way:
    1) The NDP has moderated, and the liberals have gone further to the left, making their ostensible platforms quite similar.
    2) Ignatieff is personally unpopular, while Layton is the reverse.
    3) Many people who voted strategically for the liberals in the past because they didn’t think that the NDP had a chance of winning are now going to vote NDP.
    4) Many people on the left are just dying to get rid of Harper no matter for whom they have to vote.
    5) Learning to vote strategically is new for most Canadians, who haven’t ever perhaps been so used to minority governments.
    6) People are more informed than ever on the issues because of the Internet.
    7) Some people are now voting strategically for the NDP, even switching for that reason from the Liberals (never mind the Bloc or Greens).
    8) The Quebec provincial government may go over to the Parti Quebecois, so Quebecers are hedging their bets, as they often do, to keep a balance between the two viewpoints on sovereignty.

  • Naveed

    I am not pleased by the rise of NDP poll numbers and support, as this causes a definite vote splitting in the left (and for the Liberals), which tends to benefit Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.
    At the same time, if this latest Ekos poll is accurate, it is good that the Harper majority is less of a possibility and danger. But I am skeptical. The vote splitting on the left can give the Conservatives some ridings, where their candidates may sneak in to a win.
    Also I think a Liberal (government) is in the best interests for Canadians, as a more balanced, beneficial party for Canadians, and so I am overall very upset by this poll (if true).

    If true, I hope the NDP don’t sustain their rise, and Liberal fortunes increase nationally, while Conservatives don’t enhance.

  • Robert

    The Bloc should not in my opinion be representative of a national party. The current drop in percentage is heading in the direction I feel most Canadians would prefer. I do not appreciate the position, what should be a provincial party only, has affected the entire country for as long as it has. I do not advocate a separate Quebec, rather one part of the vision of the whole country. If it is to be they become a separate nation within a nation, so be it. They take their share of the entire country debt with them.

    The amount of money poured into Quebec on the backs of the rest of Canadians shoulder would appear expected, and not at all appreciated. So what is the motivation for the majority to continue it based on the Bloc agenda.

    Dual language law has not benefited the majority of Canada, nor has Quebec’s Hydro boon doggle. I take offence when traveling in Quebec the often refusal to speak English, when the dual language is law, even in a place like Sooke B.C on Vancouver island. This is a tiny community, a postal employee with years of experience was bumped out of a job she was very competent with, because she was not bilingual. Ridiculous, considering the treatment I was personally exposed to in Quebec. Love the city, but.

    Lets discontinue coddling Quebec, if they want out, it would be unfortunate, not for the rest of Canada by any means, rather Quebec,

  • Beth

    A Harper Majority is the safest bet because without Calgary’s Man at the switch – our healthcare transfer payments are in jeopardy along with our pensions, and other social programs. And if Alberta joins the U.S., and Saskatchewan .. Canada’s finished…and to hell with Layton, and his cane.

  • Marc-Antoine

    Robert. I’m not a separatist, I agree with the fact BQ don’t have his place in the federal theatre. But your comments on QC are quite rude. Don’t talk about something you don’t know about. The problem is, federalist votes are split within three parties and the Bloc benefits from this. Seriously, thinking that us Quebecers are supposed to speak to you in English and calling it a law is pretty pathetic! I wouldn’t be served in English in Vancouver. Why would we be poised to do it for you? I repeat that I would, but don’t bring laws that doesn’t exist to bash Quebecers. It’s because of people like you (on both side) that there is a separatist debate. Closed-mind and bucked.

  • Angelina

    The sudden and spectacular rise of the NDP in the Prairies is perhaps as important as the rise in Quebec. The drop in the tories there is the biggest surprise.

    If this is followed by even one more poll, then something is happening in Canada.

    Is ther break out on what drove the tory vote down in the prairies?

  • Naveed

    To answer Robert above, I would say that Quebec (and francaphones in that province) have been rather erratic and wholesale in their voting over the decades. For example at one point, during the earlier Trudeau years they went totally Liberal in the province and elected federal Liberal candidates to Parliament. Then at another they switched en masse to Mulroney’s Conservatives, and yet again to the Bloc (when it was more to the fore about its separatist angle).
    Now from this poll today, it seems that Quebecers are yet again to make a choice perhaps en masse, this time a first for the NDP.
    You are right that most Canadians outside Quebec would probably prefer this switch to NDP from Bloc, but not all of them. (I think you can discount supporters of the other national political parties, aside from NDP and Bloc!).

    Personally as a Liberal, I would prefer the Bloc over NDP in Quebec. Its personal of course, but also the fact that the Bloc today is not running on the separatist platform or policy–it is simply funcitioning to all intents and purposes as a regular leftist party dealing with National affairs as pertaining to Quebec when elected to our Parliament.
    Yes the Bloc is ironically in our Parliament when its stand is a separatist Quebec, but any future Quebec referendum for separation (heaven forbid it is soon) will have momentum from the provincial level of the Parti Quebecois.
    So Bloc is essentially just another ‘national’ party, and of course I’d rather have them than NDP who split the vote more on the national scene from Liberals for Conservatives to sneak in perhaps.

    As for dual language, it will not be effective even if Federal NDP candidates win from Quebec. Again that is decided more at the provincial level, and it seems PQ is once again going to have a go at that….and not make it possible.

    I love Quebec, and want it in our Country. But it should be the Liberal way to go.

  • R Taylor

    It’s becoming clearer that in the Liberal mind, voting strategically to get rid of Harper means voting Liberal and that means you, NDP.

  • Sandea

    In general, things tend to end in a predictable conclusion
    but from time to time, results fall off the bell curve and end
    up in a surprising scenario. For example, the Obama win,
    and recently Tunisia and Egypt. It is possible that these
    events have given a slight nudge in the minds of Canadians
    to think alternatively. Like a slight deviation in the course of
    an asteroid, the outcome could be as dramatic as a direct
    impact in lieu of a total miss. After this election, we will learn
    the mechanism of dramatic change should it occur. Society
    is not made of stone, look at all the changes since 1867.

  • eddy

    I will be voting for the NDP or Liberal candidate in my riding that has the best chance to defeat or keep out the Conservative.

    65% of Canadians DO NOT want a Harper govt.

    check your riding at


  • Uber_Zeitgeist

    That Steven Harper is polling as well as he is in the advance polls indicates that either we have a wholly uneducated voting populace and democracy really is dead, or people really think he had something to do with the economic recovery, and they are voting to keep the almighty dollar in their pocket–at their peril of voting Harper in with a majority.

  • NoWayJW

    I don’t know why the NDP and Liberals don’t merge into a new party and call themselves the Liberal Democrats.

    It worked for the PC’s and CCRAP.

    To be fair to the Harper government, although eddy said 65% may not want a Harper government, he neglected to say that 75% do not want an Ignatieff or Layton government either.

    Another minority government appears to be in the offing, unless the left split lets the Conservatives pick off more seats.

  • Hunter-Kennedy

    NDP, NDP, NDP!

    This is the turning point of an era.
    Where logic beats out ignorance and arrogance.
    Inform those around you of what the true facts are.

    take it or leave it.
    all bonfires are started by a small spark.
    Light an Intelligent paradigm shift our children will be impressed by.


  • DougH


    I can assure you, as an employee of Elections Canada, that no one knows how well any party did in today’s advance poll, as the votes will not be tallied until election night. In fact, it’s illegal to open and count the ballots in advance of the main count.

  • Jean Jacques

    > It’s becoming clearer that in the Liberal mind, voting strategically
    > to get rid of Harper means voting Liberal and that means you, NDP.

    I am getting a bit tired of hearing that NDP supporters shall vote strategically and vote for the Liberal (or the Bloc) candidate instead.

    Why shouldn’t it be the Liberal supporters that instead vote NDP this time to avoid spliting the votes? Anyway, it is the Liberals that adopted many of the NDP positions.

    At least, the NDP is not hidding that he would like to makes a coalition against the Conservative, while the Liberal party is saying that they will keep the statu quo and let Harper still leading a minority government.

    Also, Québécois are even less receptive to Ignatieff message than we were to Stépane Dion (I means, before he screwed up completely with his famous allocution).

  • Steve

    Everyone knew that in the course of the month of campaigning, there would be times when things stretch and shrink, rise and fall. Harper, at the end of the day, is a business supporter. His status as an economist gives rise to the theory that he is best equipped to lead this country, and to provide that actual security and future which most Canadians aspire to. Layton has never had a job, and lived in subsidized housing with his MP wife Olivia Chow, at $800 per month for a three bedroom unit in downtown toronto. Imagine a highly paid pair of politicians taking up a housing unit that someone else really needed? Jack would do for Canada what Bob Rae did for Ontario. Ignatieff is elitist, nasty and he carries a well disguised and dangerous American agenda. CAnadians will never trust this virtual American, who was a Pentagon war monger who lobbied and coddled Democrats into supporting Bush to invade Iraq. Iggy’s job was to mulify the concern of the hundreds of thousands of mothers and children that would be killed.

  • James Jacobs

    this latest EKOS poll is a bad joke. only poll that ranks the greens above 4% and the only poll that ranks the cons below 36%. all the other polling companies (nanos, ipsos, forum research, etc.) have more or less similar numbers.

  • Word

    Steve is right. Nobody should trust the american, Idiotieff. I’m voting Conservative, if only just to punish the Liberals for sparking another needless election.

  • Naveed

    The notion that Michael Ignatieff has a dangerous American agenda is absolute nonsense. No other word for it. NONSENSE.
    Steve, look at the party policies and platforms. It is Stephen Harper himself who has the right wing ideology of a REPUBLICAN USA politician, which means that of the past President George Bush & Co.
    Harper is the American influenced, with his notion of less government in society, less social programmes, backing up of huge corporations and privatization of health care. Harper is the elitist.
    You are obviously jumping on the false Conservative bandwagon, and misrepresenting Michael Ignatieff, just like Harper has done for the past two years in attack ads.

    Stephen Harper is the virtual American. Michael Ignatieff is a patriotic Canadian,
    and another gross mistake in your comment, the Democrats in USA did not support the invasion of Iraq it was the Republicans.

  • Naveed

    It is getting increasingly clearer that many Canadians are backing the wrong ‘horse’. Set to vote in a Prime Minister (Harper) who is totally undemocratic and right wing agenda, who will be disastrous for this country.
    perhaps an opposition leader (Layton) who is socialist with no planned cost to his platform, and some impracticable policies should he ever form government.
    Canadians are definitely going the wrong way if this should happen, especially if Harper gets his majority.
    It may be an awful time to be Canadian, and living in Canada soon.

  • Kevin

    @ Steve,Re: Iggy dangerous. If Harper was at the helm in 2001, we would have been in Iraq then, and likely still be there today. If what you say about Iggy is true, then much of what Harper has said, says today, coupled with the long term vision he has of Canada…it is clear they are but two sides of the same coin. Indeed, Harper is a supporter of businesses…especially the really big American multinationals…jets in a no-bid contract? Jets that even a few American generals have said are not suited for Canada’s north. Harper wants to build many more prisons, yet crime rates have been falling for decades…so why? To what end? The likely answer is to eventually privatize them…just like the Americans have done, which has turned out to be a complete fiasco.

    “His status as an economist gives rise to the theory that he is best equipped to lead this country…”
    What theory is that? That we must infinitely grow the economy with the finite resources of the planet?

    Economics Blurs Logic

    @ Beth…Harper is on record saying he wants to dismantle universal health care and reduce other social programs. Alberta won’t join the U.S. alone…it’s been pretty clear since the first inception of the SSP that the end game is to have Canada swallowed whole into a NAU. If big business deemed it profitable for Quebec to separate, they would have engineered it years ago.

    @ NoWayJW Re: Parties joining forces. What I’m beginning to see in Canadian politics is a divisiveness…and the only options are left or right…with enough research one can see that this divide is being deliberately engineered by the so called “money men”…the proven theory that if one can divide the populous into two basic groups (left and right, no middle) then one simply conquers them all. It’s the “divide and conquer” theory.

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