Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to enjoy an advantage on the Nanos Leadership Index while NDP Leader Jack Layton is firmly in second place, climbing away from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, according to a new poll.

Though he has not regained the campaign-high ranking seen in the wake of the English-language leaders' debate, Harper hung on to a comfortable lead over his opponents in the most recent Nanos Research poll for CTV and the Globe and Mail, reversing a recent downward trend and leaping ahead five points to a score of 93.9.

But Layton, now in second place, continued to gain ground while the numbers slid for both Ignatieff and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe.

The NDP leader recently went on the offensive in Quebec -- bolstered by surging popularity there -- and saw his ranking inch up to 73.7 while Ignatieff fell six points to 38.4. Duceppe's ranking dipped slightly to 10.8.

On April 23 the total leadership scores for the major party leaders were: (Change from April 21 in brackets)

  • Stephen Harper: 93.9 (+5.8)
  • Jack Layton: 73.7 (+0.8)
  • Michael Ignatieff: 38.4 (-6)
  • Elizabeth May: 11.2 (+3.4)
  • Gilles Duceppe: 10.8 (-0.4)

The Leadership Index combines rankings for each candidate on trustworthiness, competence and their vision for Canada. Harper scores high on competence and vision, the same categories where Ignatieff lags, while Layton placed highest for trust.

On the issue of trust the leaders' scores on April 23 were: (Change from April 21 in brackets.)

  • Stephen Harper: 25% (-1.8)
  • Jack Layton: 28.3% (-1)
  • Michael Ignatieff: 12.5% (+1.4)
  • Elizabeth May: 4.6% (+0.9)
  • Gilles Duceppe: 3.5% (-0.4)

On the issue of competence the leaders' scores on April 23 were: (Change from April 21 in brackets.)

  • Stephen Harper: 38.7% (+6)
  • Jack Layton: 22.3% (+2.7)
  • Michael Ignatieff: 11.2% (-5)
  • Elizabeth May: 2.4% (-0.5)
  • Gilles Duceppe: 4.6% (-0.9)

On the issue of their vision for Canada the leaders' scores on April 23 were: (Change from April 21 in brackets.)

  • Stephen Harper: 30.2% (+1.6)
  • Jack Layton: 23.1% (-0.9)
  • Michael Ignatieff: 14.7% (-2.4)
  • Elizabeth May: 4.2% (+2)
  • Gilles Duceppe: 2.7% (+0.9)

Healthcare remains by far the top national issue among voters, with 31.3 per cent of respondents placing it at the top of their concerns. Jobs and the economy again came in second at 19.8 per cent, though interest there has been lagging. Education, the environment and high taxes were effectively tied for third place at roughly 6 per cent each.

Methodology: A national random telephone survey is conducted nightly by Nanos Research throughout the campaign. Each evening a new group of 400 eligible voters are interviewed. The daily tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling sample comprised of 1,200 interviews. To update the tracking a new day of interviewing is added and the oldest day dropped. The margin of error for a survey of 1,200 respondents is ±2.8%, 19 times out of 20.