OTTAWA — The Conservative party has taken the lead in nationwide federal election campaign polling, and is closing the gap with the Liberals in Ontario, according to an analysis by Vox Pop Labs.
And while the analysis also suggests the Liberals would still win the most seats if the election were held now, it forecasts that they would fall short of the number needed to form a majority government.
Top-line numbers aggregated in The Signal by Vox Pop Labs suggest Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives now have the support of 34.5 per cent of voters, compared to 33.5 per cent for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
The New Democrats are sitting at 19.8 per cent support, a level that has remained virtually unchanged over the first 10 days of campaigning.
“It’s consistent across regions. We don’t see (the Conservatives’ rise) in one particular region,” Clifton van der Linden, a political scientist and the founder of Vox Pop Labs, said Wednesday.
“We’re seeing various degrees of the rise. In B.C., for example, you’re really seeing the Conservatives pick up steam, but you’re also seeing it in most other regions.”
That said, the analysis was still predicting a Liberal victory if the election was held now — although, with a projected 149 seats to the Conservatives’ 131, Trudeau’s gamble on a snap election call would have failed to deliver him the 170 seats he would need to form a majority government.
Vox Pop Labs analyzes publicly available poll results to produce its aggregate numbers, in a method similar to those used by the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight and Votamatic. It uses a “poll of polls” going back to 2009 to account for the “house bias” of Canadian pollsters, and compares their surveys against actual election results.
It has added the results of 27 new polls to its model over the last week, when its projections suggested Trudeau’s bid to regain a majority government was in jeopardy after the Liberals enjoyed a significant lead in public support earlier in the summer.
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The Liberals’ bid for a third consecutive mandate has gotten off to a rocky start, with its lead in popular support diminishing and then disappearing over the first 10 days of the campaign.
The Conservatives have run a relatively mistake-free campaign so far, and appear to be the primary beneficiaries of the Liberals’ stumbles. The New Democrats, meanwhile, have struggled to turn a positive impression of leader Jagmeet Singh into more support from decided voters, based on Vox Pop Labs’ projections.
But the top-line national numbers mask some regional dynamics that could have a significant role in the election’s outcome.
In Ontario, which is home to 121 of Canada’s 338 federal ridings, the Liberals still enjoy a slight lead, with 37.8 per cent support to the Conservatives’ 36.4 per cent, and the NDP at 21.5 per cent. But that lead has diminished dramatically since the election call.
“Even if you look at the extent to which that narrowing has happened in the last week alone, I think it’s quite troubling for the Liberals and quite a boon to the Conservatives’ perceived fortunes,” said van der Linden.
In Quebec, the Liberals lead with 37.1 per cent support, followed by the Bloc Québécois with 28.6 per cent.
But in British Columbia, the Conservatives appear to have opened up a significant lead — with Vox Pop Labs’ putting them at 34.2 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 28.1 per cent and the New Democrats at 27.3 per cent.
The Conservatives dominate the rest of Western Canada as well, with 47.7 per cent support in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and 58 per cent support in Alberta.
The Liberals enjoy strong numbers in the Atlantic region, with 40.6 per cent support to the Conservatives’ 32.3 per cent.
Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier
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