POLITICS

Tories Rebounding From Darkest Days Since Winning Power, Polls Suggest

04/25/2014 10:53 EDT | Updated 04/25/2014 10:59 EDT
CP

Are the Conservatives in the midst of a rebound from their lowest ebb since first coming to power in 2006? Two recent polls suggest that might be the case.

A poll released earlier this week by Angus Reid Global raised some eyebrows, as it pegged the Conservatives to have 32 per cent support, two points up on the Liberals. It was the first time the Conservatives had been awarded a lead in any poll in seven months.

Was it an outlier or a sign that the political landscape in Canada was shifting?

The latest poll by Ipsos Reid conducted for CTV News suggests the latter. The survey, carried out between April 17 and 22 and interviewing 1,014 Canadians online, put the Liberals and Tories in a tie with 33 per cent apiece. The New Democrats trailed in third with 24 per cent, while the Bloc Québécois had six per cent support (24 per cent in Quebec) and the Greens had three per cent.

While that is a slightly better picture for Justin Trudeau's Liberals than the deficit recorded by Angus Reid, the Ipsos poll represents a slide of four points for his party compared to the firm's last survey from mid-February. All of that went towards the Conservatives who, at 33 per cent, are at their highest level of support in any poll since before Trudeau took over the Liberal leadership.

Among likely voters (identified by Ipsos Reid as people who say that nothing short of an emergency would prevent them from voting), the Tories edged upwards to 34 per cent. That represents a six-point gain from an Ipsos poll conducted at the end of January and beginning of February, and a five-point drop for the Liberals.

The Conservatives made significant gains in Alberta (where they lead with 63 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (where they trail in second with 33 per cent, behind the Liberals at 54 per cent) since mid-February.

They have also moved ahead in British Columbia, according to Ipsos Reid, thanks to a 13-point gain over the last three polls from the company stretching back to the end of November, all of it coming from the Liberals. In the battleground province, the Tories currently sit at 41 per cent, against 27 per cent for the NDP and 25 per cent for the Liberals.

Stephen Harper's party has also moved ahead in Ontario, echoing in part the surge recorded by Angus Reid in their earlier poll. The Tories were at 36 per cent there, against 34 per cent for the Liberals and 27 per cent for the NDP. The small edge here, along with the wider advantage west of the province, gives the Tories a much better chance of pulling more seats out of the equation than the Liberals, despite the national tie.

The Liberals retained the lead in Quebec, holding 37 per cent support. The party has gained in the last two polls from Ipsos, while the NDP has remained steady at 28 per cent. The Conservatives had their worst performance here, with just nine per cent support.

Outside of Quebec, though, are the Conservatives poised for a comeback? This is not the first time they have managed to put a dent in Trudeau's popularity. The governing party had moved closer to the Liberals in September and October 2013, before the Senate scandal exploded again and pushed the Tories to new lows.

But with Nigel Wright no longer facing the prospect of charges and Elections Canada closing its investigation of the robocall affair (outside of Guelph, at least) the clouds hanging over the government are clearing up a little.

Will it be smoother sailing from here or will another storm dash Conservative hopes for re-election in 2015?

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers every week. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

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