11/13/2012 10:40 EST | Updated 11/13/2012 12:07 EST

Poll Shows Liberal Surge At NDP Expense As Tory Dream Comes True


It seems the split on Canada's centre-left flank which allowed Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party to capture power is once again widening.

A new poll from Abacus Data data shows the Tories have opened up a seven-point lead on the NDP, largely due to a spike in support for the Liberals at the expense of the NDP. The Conservatives stand at 36 per cent support among decided voters, up one point from September, while the NDP has dropped six points to 29 per cent. The Liberals have jumped 5 per cent to 22 per cent support total.

Support for the Green Party is unchanged at 6 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois is static at 7 per cent.


The online poll of 1,068 people was completed between November 9 and 11 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.0%, 19 times out of 20.

Much of the Liberal bounce is coming from Quebec, where the party has gained eight points since September to stand at 21 per cent support, compared with 30 per cent for the NDP and 31 per cent for the Bloc.

The durability of the Jack Layton-led Orange Wave in the province has been questioned almost since the day it swept the party into Official Opposition status. Many have wondered whether even with Thomas Mulcair as leader, a man with strong ties to Quebec politics, the NDP can possibly hope to sustain its support in the province.

Polls showing a Justin Trudeau-led Liberal party would decimate NDP support in Quebec seem to support the thesis that the NDP's success in Quebec may be a one-off.

The NDP is also struggling in the Tory heartland of Alberta, where the party is down 11 points since September to stand at 18 per cent support. As there is currently only one NDP MP from the province, the drop in support will likely do little to hurt that party's fortunes.

At the same time, it seems Mulcair's tough stance on Alberta's oilsands isn't winning him many new constituents out West.

And the good news for the Tories in the poll doesn't stop there.

Canadians are becoming more optimistic about the future, with 51 per cent saying the country is headed in the right direction compared with 41 per cent in September. While this change bodes well for the Conservatives it seems to have little to do with how they're governing.

The government's approval rating was up just three points from September to stand at 39 per cent, while their disapproval rating dropped 2 points to 44 per cent. Similarly, Harper's favourable rating remained unchanged at 35 per cent while his unfavourable numbers dropped four points to stand at 46 per cent.

Thomas Mulcair doesn't fare so well in the poll. The NDP leader's favourable numbers are down seven points since September to 29 per cent and his unfavourables inched upward two points to 24 per cent. While Mulcair is still the only federal leader with a net positive favourable rating, things are clearly headed in the wrong direction.

The poll describes the results as a "dream come true" for the Conservatives, with Canada's centre-left vote becoming ever more split. The numbers are bound to reignite conversation about a possible NDP-Liberal merger aimed at ending what will be nearly a decade of Conservative government when the next election is held in 2015.

But Trudeau, who so far seems likely to capture the Liberal leadership, has ruled out any such union and perhaps has good reason to do so.

It's clear his entrance into the race has reinvigorated the Liberal party and, if the current trend continues, what once seemed like a dream come true for the Tories could quickly become a nightmare.

While the NDP has always faced the difficult prospect of convincing Canadians it's ready to form a government for the first time, the Liberal party under a Trudeau faces no such problems of familiarity.

If the Liberals can continue to pick up support from the NDP, particularly in Quebec, the story of the 2015 election may be that of a red wave rather than a big split.

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