Federal Conservatives surge; tied with NDP

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Federal Conservatives surge; tied with NDP

New seat allocation favours Conservative minority; Harper approval up

TORONTO July 8th, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1200 Canadian voters, exactly equal proportions, one third each, will vote for the New Democrats or the Conservatives (32% each) if a federal election were held today. Fewer, about one quarter, would vote Liberal (26%). These findings represent stability for the NDP, who led the poll last week at one third of the votes (32%), but a sharp increase in voting preference for the Conservatives (from 27%). The Liberals have seen their vote decrease slightly since last week (June 30 - 29%). The Greens would take a small share of the vote (3%), as would the Bloc Quebecois (5%). Very few will vote any other party (1%).

In vote-rich Ontario, the three parties are essentially tied (Conservative - 32%, Liberal - 33%, NDP - 31%), while in Quebec the NDP have a slight lead (29%) over the Conservatives (26%), while the Liberals (23%) and the Bloc trail (18%). In Atlantic Canada, the three parties are tied (Conservatives - 32%, Liberals- 29%, NDP - 33%), while in Alberta, the Conservatives dominate (54%) and the NDP are at half this level (28%). The NDP is dominant in BC (41%), followed by the Liberals (29%) and Conservatives (23%). In the prairies, the Conservatives (41%) and NDP (42%) are tied.

More than a quarter of those who voted Liberal in 2011 will vote NDP this time around (27%) and this is twice the proportion which will switch between other parties.

Strong Conservative minority seen

If these results are projected up to a 338 seat House of Commons, the Conservatives would capture a strong minority of 155 seats, 15 fewer than required for a majority. The NDP would take 120 seats and the Liberals 59. The Bloc would seat two members, the Green Party would retain the leader’s seat and one independent would sit.

Liberals, NDP equally likely to be second choice

About one half of Liberal voters pick the NDP as their second choice (49%), and the same goes for NDP voters picking the Liberals second (47%). One tenth of Liberals pick the Greens second (12%) and about one quarter of NDP voters do so too (24%). While close to one fifth of Liberals will take the Conservatives second (18%), only half this many New Democrats will (8%). It is clear that the NDP has the strongest advantage in the event of tactical voting, in that their combined total share of the vote is more than half the electorate (55%), while the Liberal ceiling is one half (50%). By contrast, the vote ceiling for the Conservatives is just 4-in-1 (41%).

Harper approval up, Mulcair suffers

More than a third of voters approve of the job being done by Stephen Harper (35%) and his net favourable score (approve minus disapprove) is a negative -24. This represents an improvement for the Prime Minister since last week (from 31% and -30). By contrast, Tom Mulcair’s approval is down (from 53% last week to 48% now) and his net score has dropped from +32 to +24, still very positive. Justin Trudeau’s approval is up slightly (from 38% to 41%), as is his net score (-6 to 0) since last week.

Higher expectations for NDP victory now

Three-in-ten voters expect the Conservatives to win the next election (30%) and this hasn’t changed, but close to this proportion now also believe the NDP will win (28%, up from 26%). Expectations of a Liberal victory have fallen (from 28% to 24%). Conservatives are more certain of their party’s victory (77%) than are either Liberals (69%) or New Democrats (65%).This tends to be a lagging measure, and reflects voting preferences seen several weeks prior.

Mulcair, Harper seen as best PM

While Tom Mulcair leads on the measure of best Prime Minister (27%) Stephen Harper is close behind (25%), while Justin Trudeau trails slightly (23%). Few pick Elizabeth May (6%) or Gilles Duceppe (4%), and one tenth think none of them is fit for the job (9%).

Voters claim they support party with best policies

One half of voters claim they decide who to vote for by selecting the party with the best policies (47%), while just more than a tenth say they vote for the best leader (14%), the best candidate in their riding (13%) or because it’s time for a change (12%). Just fewer than this say they vote for the party they always vote for (8%). Conservatives are especially likely to vote for their usual party (10%) or the best leader (19%), while Liberals are especially likely to vote for change (18%). Liberals are less likely than others to say they vote the party with the best policies (44%).

"Well, the other shoe has dropped, and the voters have begun to vet Tom Mulcair, because he’s suddenly the frontrunner, according to media polling. They've have had a closer look and have found him somewhat wanting. It is instructive that they do not return their favour to Justin Trudeau, the previous frontrunner, but begin to appreciate the Prime Minister more than in the past. We have said the electorate is looking for a fair fight, and they’re dispensing their support accordingly, across all three parties. If these small shifts in electoral favour keep occurring, no predictions about this election will be possible," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.