The Tories have cause for concern, according to a new poll.
When EKOS asked Canadians which party they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow, Conservatives garnered just 29.3 per cent support -- nearly a 10-point decrease since the party won 39.6 per cent of the vote in the 2011 federal election. EKOS polled 5,947 adults from Feb. 1 to Feb. 10.
EKOS President Frank Graves told iPolitics the numbers indicate "the government now is in a much more tenuous position with the electorate than it was at the time it gained its majority."
Support for the NDP has also slipped since the election, falling from 30.6 per cent to 26.3 per cent. The Liberals, on the other hand, grew support from 18.9 per cent in May 2011 to 24.6 per cent in the poll.
Liberal leadership race front-runner Justin Trudeau had the highest approval rating in the survey at 33 per cent. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was tied with NDP leader Tom Mulcair at 28 per cent.
However, Liberals shouldn't get too excited. When considering only ‘likely’ voters, meaning those who voted in the 2011 federal election, Liberals earned only 21.2 per cent, with the Conservatives at 33.7 per cent support and the NDP at 30.1 per cent.
And while Trudeau could jump-start the Liberals' fortunes, it's possible an uptick for the party at the expense of the NDP could simply result in more Harper governments.
"Despite their relatively humbled position, [the Conservatives] still have the most committed base and with only slight upward movement could produce another majority with even lower popular vote than last time," the EKOS report said.
However, the poll indicates the Tories face other challenges besides a Trudeau-led Liberal Party. Slightly more than 51 per cent of those polled believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared with 35.4 per cent who think it’s headed in the right direction. "Levels of economic optimism also continue to decline to historical nadirs," according to EKOS.
The numbers suggest the Liberals have an opportunity to at least return to second-party status, but only if the party can generate the excitement necessary to pull in voters who stayed home last time around. Victory for Trudeau in the leadership race, combined with discontent about the country's direction, could very well do just that.
Of course, excitement has a way of dissipating over time. If Trudeau does win, he'll have to find a way to keep the buzz going until 2015. And if Jason Kenney's jabs at Trudeau over the weekend are any indication, the Conservatives are already preparing to nip that buzz in the bud.