Federal Politics: Tories and NDP neck and neck; Liberals up to 24%

Canadian Politics: Conservatives 32%, NDP 31%, Liberals 24%
Federal government disapproval hits 50%

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federalballotmarc03 copyAccording to a new national survey by public opinion firm Abacus Data, support for the federal Conservative Party has declined by three points in the past month.  The Conservatives are now tied with the federal NDP while  Liberal Party support is up three points since February.  Note, this survey was conducted before the release of the 2013 Federal Budget.

Nationally, the Conservative Party has the support of 32% of decided voters followed by the NDP at 31%, the Liberals at 24%, and the Green Party at 8%.

“This is the lowest level of support we have ever recorded for the federal Conservatives,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto.  “Not since our first poll November 2010 have we had the Conservatives below 34% in the polls.”

“Liberal support is up noticeably since last month, and up seven percentage points since September 2012,” said Coletto.  “In our tracking, you have to go all the way back to the middle of the last federal election to find the Liberals at or above 24% among decided voters.  Their numbers are slowly but steadily improving.”

Regional Vote Intentions

Regionally, the Conservative Party continues to dominate in Alberta (59%) and in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (45%) while holding a seven-point lead in Ontario (36%).  The Tories continue to struggle in Quebec earning the support of only 15% of decided voters in Canada’s second largest province.  The NDP and the Conservative Party are statistically tied in British Columbia with the NDP at 33% and the Conservatives at 32%.

In Quebec, the NDP continues to lead with 40% support among decided voters followed by the Liberals at 21%, the BQ at 19%, and the Conservatives at 15%.

The Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada (42%) while the Greens are strongest in British Columbia (13%).

“We haven’t seen any significant regional swings in vote intention except in Atlantic Canada where it looks like Liberal support is up at the expense of the Conservatives,” added Coletto.

Other Findings – Government Approval and Direction of the Country

As usual, the survey also asked Canadians about their views on the general direction of the country and the job performance of the Harper government.

  • Direction of the Country: Forty-six percent of Canadians believed that things in the country are generally off on the wrong track (up three points since February) while 38% believed they things were headed in the right direction.
  • Approval of Federal Government: Evaluations of the federal government’s job performance have weakened slightly this month with 50% saying they either strongly or somewhat disapprove of the job the federal government led by Stephen Harper is doing.  This is a five-point increase from last month.  The net negative approval of -13 is the highest for the Harper government since we started tracking this measure in August 2011. 

Bottom Line

The results of our latest poll represent a tough mid-term report card for the Harper Government.  Ballot numbers are down, disapproval is up, and more Canadians think the country is headed in the wrong direction.  But since the survey was conducted before the Federal Budget, we cannot say whether it has had an impact on the Government’s approval rating.

The Conservatives are polling at the lowest level since Abacus Data started tracking federal vote intentions in November 2010, the Liberal Party is at its highest point since the middle of the last federal election, while the NDP is holding steady at around 30% of the vote.

The Conservatives are in a mid-term slump.  Not only is the party down in ballot support but the Harper Government’s job performance numbers are the worst since we started tracking the measures in August 2011.   On the bright side for the Tories, they are holding onto 85% of their 2011 supporters, more than any other party.  Furthermore, the centre-left parties continue to split their votes giving the Conservatives a good chance of holding on to many seats due to large leads in Western Canada and in Ontario.

As the Liberal Party enters the homestretch of their leadership selection process, the winner will take over a party in significantly better shape today than it was only seven months ago.  Back in September, our tracking had the Liberals at 17% with dismal numbers in Western Canada and in Quebec.  Today, the Liberals are statistically tied with the BQ in Quebec, have increased support in British Columbia, remain competitive in urban Ontario, and lead in Atlantic Canada.

Finally, one year after Tom Mulcair won the leadership of the federal NDP, the party is holding onto most of its supporters from 2011 and is running neck and neck with the Conservatives.  Like the Conservatives, NDP support is down compared to last autumn when its support peaked at 35% and we know that much of its support is soft and could bolt to the Liberals under Justin Trudeau’s leadership.  Mulcair seems to have a three-part strategy: (1) maintain support in Quebec by uniting soft nationalists and progressives, (2) demonstrate steady and focused opposition to the Conservatives, (3) position himself as the only real and credible alternative Prime Minister.  On all three strategic objectives, Justin Trudeau is a threat.

Whereas Trudeau is charismatic, youthful and energetic, Mulcair presents himself as stoic, serious, and thoughtful.  The contrast between both men could not be more stark.  After April 14, the NDP and Liberals will be fighting on two fronts: (1)Opposing the Harper Government and (2) jostling for position as the true alternative to Harper and the Conservatives.


The survey was conducted online with 1,014 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a panel of over 150,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from March 19 to 21, 2013.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated.   The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1,014 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey. 

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