The race for the Conservative nomination for the federal byelection in Calgary Centre will likely decide who will next represent the riding, according to a new poll that gives the governing party a wide lead over opposition rivals.

The poll by Forum Research for The Huffington Post Canada was conducted on August 14 and surveyed 250 residents of the riding, giving it a margin of error of +/- 6.2%, 19 times out of 20. It shows the Conservatives have more than twice the support of their closest adversary.

The nomination vote for the Tories will not be held until August 25, but 44 per cent of respondents said they would support the Conservative candidate if an election were held immediately.

The Liberals, with 21 per cent support, finished second and ahead of the New Democrats (14 per cent) and Greens (12 per cent), while eight per cent said they would vote for a candidate from another party.

Conservative Lee Richardson, who announced his resignation as Calgary Centre’s MP on May 30, captured 58 per cent of the vote in the 2011 federal election, while Liberal candidate Jennifer Pollock took 18 per cent. The New Democrats and Greens split the rest, garnering 15 and 10 per cent support, respectively. The vote share for all four parties has been relatively stable over the last three elections, making the recent drop in Conservative support more dramatic.

The changes in support for the opposition parties since the last federal vote, however, are well within the margin of error.

Six candidates are vying for the Tory nomination in the riding, while the Liberals will be choosing between two names on September 15. The New Democrats and Greens have yet to set dates.

But in addition to a lead in voting intentions, the Conservatives benefit from other advantages. Stephen Harper’s approval rating in the riding, at 49 per cent, is far higher than either of his two rivals. Thomas Mulcair has an approval rating of only 27 per cent and, at 44 per cent, his disapproval rating is the highest of the three main leaders. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has a net positive score with an approval rating of 36 per cent and a disapproval rating of 33 per cent.

However, the Liberals suffer from a lack of enthusiasm among supporters. Whereas 52 per cent of Conservative voters said they were “very enthusiastic” about voting for the party, only 32 per cent of Liberal supporters said the same thing. New Democrats are even less enthusiastic at 28 per cent. Green voters are the most keen to cast their ballot at 56 per cent. If these numbers reflect potential turnout on election day, the Conservatives should easily capture a majority of the vote – with the Greens in a race for second.

The candidates for all parties still have to be selected and the byelection has yet to be called, so nothing is set in stone. The departure of Richardson does seem to have put a dent in Conservative support, but the party still holds a wide lead in a riding that has voted for a conservative candidate of one stripe or another since it was created almost 50 years ago. The opposition parties have a huge challenge ahead of them, and the vote among Conservative members on August 25 may be the closest race Calgary Centre can expect.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Alison Redford on insisting Alberta wont's see a PST

    “Gosh, my goodness. Today is Thursday. Did I say it yesterday? Did I say it on Tuesday? Did I say it on Friday?” “We are not introducing a provincial sales tax, period. I’ll say it again tomorrow if you like." February 2013.

  • Alison Redford's Christmas Greeting

    In a tongue-in-cheek greeting on This Hour Has 22 Minutes 2012 holiday special, <a href="">Redford shared the following message to Canada</a> - "Christmas is my favourite time of year in Alberta. Most people spend their time with family and friends. I choose to spend the bulk of my time the way I do the rest of the year - having a scotch with my friends from the oil and gas industry; talking about how to relax environmental regulations." Looks like another mild winter. You're welcome, Canada."

  • Ed Stelmach On U.S.

    "A good neighbour lends you a cup of sugar. A great neighbour supplies you with 1.4 million barrels of oil per day." -- <a href="" target="_hplink">In an ad in <em>The Washington Post.</em></a> (CP)

  • Redford On B.C. Premier Clark

    "We have every other premier across the country understanding the importance of the energy economy and understanding that it's important for all Canadians that we do work together." -- <a href="" target="_hplink">Taking a jab at B.C. Premier Christy Clark.</a> (CP)

  • Ralph Klein on Evolution

    "Dinosaur farts." -- On what may have brought about the <a href="" target="_hplink">Ice Age.</a> (CP)

  • Ralph Klein On Belinda Stronach

    "I wasn't surprised that she crossed over to the Liberals. I don't think she ever did have a Conservative bone in her body. Well, maybe one." -- Speaking at a charity roast in 2006, <a href="" target="_hplink">Klein comments on MP Belinda Stronach</a>, who used to date fellow Tory MP Peter McKay, crossing the floor to join the Liberal Party. (CP)

  • Ralph Klein takes on Dalton McGuinty

    "I'm no doctor, but I think that Mr. McGuinty's got a case of premature speculation," said Klein, reacting to comments made in March 2006 by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty opposing any two-tiered health care system in Ontario that Klein has proposed in Alberta, which was believed would allow quicker access to surgery for those who pay.

  • Peter Lougheed On Oilsands Development

    "Would somebody please outline to me the advantages of our doing it this way? For me, an Albertan? What are they? Can you give me a couple of them? What do I as an Albertan gain by this mad rush up there?" -- <a href="" target="_hplink">He asks in <em>The Globe And Mail</em></a>. (CP)

  • Ralph Klein On Mad Cow Disease

    "I guess any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut up, but he didn't do that. Instead he took it to an abattoir." -- At the discovery of mad cow disease <a href="" target="_hplink">on an Alberta ranch.</a> (CP)

  • Ralph Klein On Edmonton

    A fine city with too many socialists and mosquitoes. At least you can spray the mosquitoes." -- In 1990 as a <a href="" target="_hplink">Tory MLA from Calgary.</a> (CP)

  • Peter Lougheed On NEP

    "Let them freeze in the dark." -- Lougheed takes on Trudeau regarding the NEP in the 70s. The quote is also cited as the more contentious bumper sticker fodder, 'Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.'