06/19/2012 09:25 EDT | Updated 06/19/2012 09:41 EDT

Quebec Poll Finds Charest Making Gains While Mulcair Maintains Federal Stranglehold


The Liberals and Parti Québécois are neck-and-neck and it appears Quebecers cannot make up their minds. But with New Democrats enjoying majority support in the province federally, a new Léger poll shows citizens of the province are not as divided as one might think.

Quebec is headed for an election, widely believed to be scheduled for mid-September. Jean Charest will be gunning for his fourth consecutive victory and the numbers indicate he has a good shot. His party narrowly leads the PQ with 33 per cent support to 32 per cent, and he is ahead in and around Montreal and Quebec City.

Though the PQ still has the edge in the rest of the province, the Liberals seem to be closing the gap. This points to a very tight election in a few months’ time.

Not so at the federal level. While Quebecers are split between the Liberals and the PQ (as well as the Coalition Avenir Québec, CAQ, which registered 19 per cent support in the survey), they plumped en masse for the Thomas Mulcair-led New Democrats. Fully 52 per cent of Quebecers would vote for them if an election were held today, enough to potentially secure over 65 of the province’s 75 seats.

While Charest holds a one point edge on the PQ, Mulcair enjoys a 34-point advantage over his nearest competitor. The Bloc Québécois managed only 18 per cent in the poll, though that was still enough to put them in second place. With only 14 and 13 per cent support respectively, the Conservatives and Liberals are well behind.

For the Tories, Quebec is almost a complete write-off. Even Charest scores higher on satisfaction, 26 per cent, than Stephen Harper does in the province. Only 23 per cent of Quebecers are satisfied with Harper's government.

Of course, the Conservatives have another three years to rebuild bridges with Quebecers, whereas Charest has perhaps three months to close the deal. Things are improving for the premier, as 26 per cent of citizens see him as the best option for the top job, a gain of eight points since May. That puts him well ahead of PQ leader Pauline Marois (21 per cent, down two points) and CAQ chief François Legault (19 per cent, down four points).

But Legault is still the most popular politician in the province, with 47 per cent of respondents saying they have a good opinion of him (including 52 per cent of Liberal supporters). That compares favourably to the 34 per cent registered by Marois and the 30 per cent attributed to Charest. Nevertheless, that is a seven point gain for the Liberal leader.

The fundamentals are going in the right direction for Charest. His party’s electoral strategy is to focus on responsibility, competence and stability, contrasting that with “referendums and the street” – what his party says is on offer from the PQ. With Quebecers increasingly seeing Charest as the best option for premier once again he may just be able to pull off another victory.

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 ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.

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