The Liberals and Conservatives are now running in a statistical dead heat, as Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole continues to gain momentum as a candidate among initially hesitant Canadians, according to nightly tracking conducted by Nanos Research for CTV News and the Globe and Mail.
According to the latest nightly tracking ending Sunday and released Monday morning, ballot support for the Liberals sits at 32.5 per cent, while the Conservatives are at 31.4 per cent support, leaving a 1.1 percentage-point difference that is well within the poll’s margin of error of ± 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
“You've got to be disappointed if you happen to be a supporter of the Liberals, because the Liberals have gone from majority territory to minority territory to a dead heat, at least on the ballot numbers,” Nik Nanos, founder and chief data scientist at Nanos Research, said on the latest episode of CTVNews.ca's Trend Line podcast. “So now the race is on.”
The result shows a continuing of Conservative gains in the early days of the campaign, which kicked off on Aug. 15. Liberal support stood at 33.4 per cent in an Aug. 12 poll, while the Conservatives lagged at that point at 28.4 per cent.
SUPPORT FOR O’TOOLE
The Liberals’ narrowing lead comes as O’Toole has seen his support as the preferred candidate rise from 17.7 per cent on Aug. 12 to 24.0 per cent in the most recent survey. He trails Trudeau’s support of 32.7 per cent, but the gap between them has narrowed, as Trudeau sat at 35.6 per cent on Aug. 12.
“Those preferred prime minister numbers are significantly up for Erin O’Toole,” said Nanos. “Most of his pickup was from undecided people.”
The polling trends show that Liberal hopes for a majority government are fading ahead of the vote on Sept. 20, a date fast approaching in a short 36-day campaign.
The results showed the NDP with 20.8 per cent ballot support, which is about even from 20.7 per cent on Aug. 12, while Green Party support has declined from 7.9 per cent to 5.1 per cent. The Bloc Quebecois have 6.1 per cent support, down from 6.3 per cent, while the People’s Party are at 3.3 per cent, having gained from 1.9 per cent on Aug. 12.
Nanos said the recent polling trends show that party support has “reset” from the July run-up to the campaign, when the Liberals enjoyed a double-digit percentage point lead over the Conservatives and enjoyed the full attention of media coverage.
“Fast forward now and with the election call reset where parties get relatively equal coverage,” he said. “Everyone's basically rebased to where they should be. And it's going to be interesting to see whether there's a breakout moment, because that's the thing we've got to watch out for right now. “
THE SINGH FACTOR
Notable in results was NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s strong performance, with 19.4 per cent support as the preferred candidate, up from 16.9 per cent on Aug. 12.
“Jagmeet Singh is an important factor in this election. He's got to figure out how he can cut through the clutter and make it a three-way race,” said Nanos.
It has been a different story for Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, as she has been dealing with internal strife and funding issues in her party. She has said she will focus her campaign on winning her own riding in downtown Toronto, rather than running a typical national campaign.
The poll showed her receiving a mere 1.80 per cent support as preferred candidate, down from 2.60 per cent on Aug. 12.
“This election should be her is her introduction to Canadians. But she is not running a traditional national campaign because the funds have not been provided for that to happen,” said Nanos.
With the momentum currently favouring the Conservatives, Nanos said it will be interesting to watch and see if the Liberals’ decision to set a short campaign could end up leaving them not enough time to try to reverse the current polling trends. For O’Toole, the key will be to avoid mistakes and not interrupt the trend.
“Right now, there's a little bit of momentum with the Conservatives and Erin O’Toole. The Liberals have to figure out how to stop that in order to make sure that the Conservatives don't surpass them, because who knows what will happen in the coming days,” said Nanos.
A national random telephone survey (land- and cellular-line sample using live agents) of 1,200 Canadians is conducted by Nanos Research throughout the campaign over a three-day period. Each evening a new group of 400 eligible voters are interviewed. The daily tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling sample comprising 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 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The respondent sample is stratified geographically and by gender. The data may be weighted by age according to data from the 2016 Canadian Census administered by Statistics Canada. Percentages reported may not add up to 100 due to rounding.