Harper Tories take post-Olympic bounce over Liberals
Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 9, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 10, 2010 6:41AM EST
OTTAWA - A new poll suggests the Conservative government has restored a crack of daylight between itself and the Liberal Opposition.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey covering a two-week period ending Sunday puts Conservative support at 33 per cent, the Liberals at 29 and NDP at 16.
Conservatives and Liberals have been locked in a statistical stalemate for weeks, but some recent polls have suggested a modest post-Olympic bounce for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government.
Harris-Decima's Allan Gregg says the national Tory uptick in the poll can be attributed almost completely to British Columbia, where voter volatility remains high.
The poll contacted surveyed 2,936 people by telephone between Feb. 25 and March 7, a sample size that provides a national margin of error of 1.8 per cent, 19 times in 20.
Gregg says the survey's "more alarming and interesting numbers" are in leadership ratings, with both Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff experiencing a steady downward trend over the past several months.
Since November, Harper's net favourability rating among respondents has gone from a plus 10 to a minus eight, while Ignatieff has plunged to minus 25 from minus 19.
"There's nothing in these numbers that are cause for cheering among the ranks of either major party, let alone enthusiasm to go to the polls," Greg told The Canadian Press in an interview.
"The dominant battleground areas of central Canada are still out of reach of the Conservatives and leadership of both parties is held in greater disfavour today than any time since the last election."
The national numbers can obscure important regional variations.
In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois had 44 per cent support according to Harris-Decima, the Liberals 22, the Tories 15 per cent, the NDP 10 and the Greens eight.
And in Ontario, the Liberals remained in the lead with 39 per cent support, ahead of the Tories with 35, the NDP at 14 and the Greens at 10.
In B.C., Conservative support hit 35 per cent, with the NDP next at 25 and the Liberals trailing with 21, just ahead of the Greens at 16 per cent.
"Even if there is a small movement towards the Conservatives nationally, it certainly wouldn't do anything to increase their ardour for an election," said Gregg.