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Liberal Support In Polls Highest Since 2009: Nanos Number

Liberal support is the highest it has been since the summer of 2009, when Michael Ignatieff took over the leadership, according to the latest tracking numbers by Nanos Research.

The research was done before Senator Mike Duffy made some extraordinary allegations against the Prime Minister's Office this week.

The Nanos weekly ballot tracking has Liberal national support at 37 per cent. The Conservatives are second at 29 per cent, the NDP is third at 23 per cent and the Green Party is fourth at five per cent. The ballot tracking is one aspect of the Party Power Index that Nanos Research releases every week.

The results are based on a national random telephone survey, using both cell and land line of Canadians. Using a four-week rolling average ending Aug. 31 (816 decided voters) and Oct. 18 (826 decided voters). It is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Despite the lower polling numbers for the Conservative Party as a whole, in the lead up to the speech from the throne Prime Minister Stephen Harper has significantly improved his personal numbers.

When Canadians were asked the qualities of a good leader, 57 per cent said Stephen Harper had those qualities. That's up 6 points from August. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is also sitting at 57 per cent, up slightly from August. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is behind with 44 per cent.

The results are based on a national random telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians, using a four-week rolling average ending Aug. 31 and Oct. 18, accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

"The talk about being consumer friendly, the focus on the speech from the throne, the chit-chat about the European Union [trade deal] was actually good for his [Harper's] personal brand, but it did not convert into support for the Conservatives," Nik Nanos told Evan Solomon on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

While the Liberal Party is going up in the polls the NDP is going down, and Nanos said that while Mulcair is a good performer in the House of Commons and is doing a good job "tearing down" the prime minister and the Conservatives, Mulcair also needs to build himself and the NDP up as a government in waiting.

"It's not enough just to tear down the PM," Nanos said.

The Senate Effect

In terms of the Senate scandal and how it will affect polling numbers, Nanos said he will be watching for who becomes the focus of the controversy.

At the beginning it was about Senator Duffy, then it was about the prime minister's former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright, but now the focus it turning to the prime minister "and it's never good for whoever's in the media cross-hairs," Nanos said.

"For Stephen Harper, he has to think of a way either to put this to rest, kill this issue or divert and have it focused on somebody else."

Not only are the Conservatives having to deal with a Senate scandal, but the Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz also delivered a gloomy economic outlook on Wednesday. He significantly downgraded the bank's economic growth forecast for 2013 and beyond.

A strong economy and managing the economy has always been part of the Conservative's brand, so this latest outlook might be problematic for Harper. According to the new BloombergNanos Canadian Confidence Index, Canadians' confidence in the economy is dropping.

At the end of September, 17 per cent of Canadians thought the economy would get weaker, that number has jumped to 22 per cent in just three weeks. Twenty per cent thought the economy would get stronger and 53 per cent thought there would be no change.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index is based on weekly measurements. The latest numbers ended Oct. 18, 2013. It is a random telephone (both cell and landline) survey of 1,000 Canadians, using a four-week rolling average of 250 respondents each week. It is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

"This makes for almost like the perfect storm in terms of difficulties for the prime minister," Nanos said. Harper will have to manage the controversy in the Senate, while trying to shift the focus to the economy and assure Canadians that his government has a plan to weather this latest economic storm.

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Network's Power & Politics to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives. Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).

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