04/30/2014 07:06 EDT | Updated 04/30/2014 07:59 EDT

Quebec Poll Suggests Momentum Swinging In Mulcair's Favour


A new poll suggests the race in Quebec between Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair is a close one, but the momentum may be swinging in the NDP's favour.

The poll, conducted by CROP for La Presse and interviewing 1,000 Quebecers online between April 17 and 21, found New Democrats narrowly in the lead with 33 per cent support against 32 per cent for the Liberals. A small uptick for the NDP worth two points compared to CROP's last poll from mid-March, and a tiny slide by the Liberals of one point, might be a statistical wobble.

But the trend line is turning negative for the Liberals. The party has fallen now in three consecutive CROP polls in the province. In January, the Liberals stood at 40 per cent in Quebec.

The New Democrats have partially moved ahead by default, as the party has hovered between 27 and 33 per cent in CROP's polling for the last year, with no discernible trend.

The NDP leader, on the other hand, has certainly experienced a jump in support. When asked who would make the best prime minister, Mulcair topped the list with 31 per cent, a gain of five points since March and his best result, according to CROP, since June 2013.

Trudeau, on the other hand, was down to 24 per cent, his worst result since becoming leader in April 2013.

The swing appears to have taken place primarily among francophones. The NDP led in this demographic with 38 per cent, followed by the Liberals and Bloc Québécois at 24 per cent apiece.

In the suburbs of Montreal, a primarily French-speaking region, the NDP picked up nine points to lead the Liberals by a margin of 40 per cent to 33 per cent.

In the regions of Quebec outside the two main metropolitan centres of Montreal and Quebec City, the NDP has gained in two consecutive polls at the expense of Liberals. The margin there stands at 35 per cent to 28 per cent support.

The Liberals still retain a wide lead on the island of Montreal (42 per cent to 23 per cent for the NDP), thanks in large part to their dominance among non-francophone residents of the province. The Liberals had 63 per cent support among these voters, who mostly live on the island of Montreal, against 12 per cent for the NDP. It was the Conservative Party, at 20 per cent, who placed second among this group.

That is about as good as it gets for the Conservatives in Quebec, who had 12 per cent support in the poll overall. Satisfaction with the government did increase by seven points to 37 per cent, however, and the party's best regional result came in Quebec City, where they had 20 per cent support. But that still put them in fourth behind the NDP (27 per cent), Liberals (24 per cent), and Bloc (22 per cent).

The Bloc, in the midst of a leadership campaign in which low-profile MP André Bellavance is the frontrunner, remains stagnant. The party had 20 per cent in the poll and did not place better than third in any region.

That is good news for Mulcair, as most of the races in Quebec in 2011 were between his party and the Bloc. That makes it more likely New Democrats can pull more seats out of a close race in Quebec than the Liberals.

But that complicates the electoral calculations at the national level. If the New Democrats hold most of their seats in Quebec, but remain in third place in the rest of the country, the only workable scenario that involves the ousting of Stephen Harper might see both Trudeau and Mulcair on the government benches.

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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