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Posted: 1/18/2006 12:44:42 PM EDT


Conservatives take 18-point lead, poll shows

Updated Wed. Jan. 18 2006 6:33 AM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

The Conservative Party has an 18-point lead over the Liberals in a new poll, giving them 42 per cent support nationally and setting possibly setting the stage for a major electoral shift.

The Tories have gained two points since a similar poll released Monday, while the Liberals fell three points.

"These numbers would deliver a majority government," pollster Tim Woolstencroft of The Strategic Counsel told CTV.ca on Tuesday.

"We've seen a transformation of the electoral landscape that's basically on par with 1993, 1984, 1968 and 1958," he said, referring to elections which generated big majorities.

However, Craig Oliver, CTV's chief political correspondent, said Tuesday night that other polls -- including, according to what he's been told, the party's internal polls -- show the Conservatives short of a majority.

According to his conversations with party officials, "they expect they could be in for a bit of a dip, as Canadians wake up in shock to find they've supported Harper so significantly," he said.

Here are the parties' diverging paths revealed by The Strategic Counsel's tracking poll, conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail (change, in percentage points, from the Jan. 12, 14-15 poll in brackets):

* Conservatives: 42 per cent (+2)
* Liberals: 24 per cent (-3)
* NDP: 17 per cent (+1)
* Bloc Quebecois: 12 per cent (+1)
* Greens: 5 per cent (-1)

When one looks at numbers across Canada excluding Quebec, the Conservatives hold a 46-28 lead.

In Quebec, the Liberals appear to be heading towards collapse as the federalist vote consolidates with the Tories (change, in percentage points, from the Jan. 12, 14-15 poll in brackets):

* Bloc Quebecois: 47 per cent (+2)
* Conservatives: 31 per cent (+4)
* Liberals: 12 per cent (-5)
* NDP: 7 per cent (-1)
* Greens: 3 per cent (unchanged)

The collapse is occurring both in Montreal, a traditional Liberal stronghold, and outside the province's largest city.

In Montreal, the Liberals sit at just 17 per cent -- a six-point drop from the poll released Monday. The Conservatives are up to 23 per cent, but the Bloc has 52 per cent support.

Outside Montreal, the Liberals are down to seven per cent (they captured 25 per cent of the vote in the 2004 vote). The Conservatives are up to 38 per cent, about four times their vote share in 2004. That puts them within five points of the Bloc.

On the question of momentum, 76 per cent of Quebec respondents said the Tories had the most, while only 12 per cent picked the Bloc. Only three per cent picked the Liberals.

The momentum number "tells you the Liberals aren't even in the race. They have essentially been eliminated as a contender," Woolstencroft said.

However, Ontarians aren't embracing the Conservatives to the same extent (change, in percentage points, from the Jan. 12, 14-15 poll in brackets):

* Conservatives: 39 per cent (+1)
* Liberals: 33 per cent (-1)
* NDP: 20 per cent (unchanged)
* Greens: 8 per cent (unchanged)

The Tories are showing significant strength over the Liberals in southwest and eastern Ontario (the 519 and 613 area codes). They hold a 42-26 lead over the Liberals in those areas.

However, in the Greater Toronto Area, the Liberals are in the lead (change, in percentage points, from the Jan. 12, 14-15 poll in brackets):

* Liberals: 42 per cent (+6)
* Conservatives: 35 per cent (-2)
* NDP: 17 per cent (-2)
* Greens: 6 per cent (-2)

"This is a different city than 20 years ago," which is the last time the Tories swept Toronto, Woolstencroft said.

The high numbers of immigrants, visible minorities and a large "creative class" makes the city lean towards small-l liberalism, he said, although the Liberal vote has dropped from 2004 and the Conservatives continue to make incremental gains.

On the Prairies, the Conservatives have 61 per cent support, while the NDP and Liberals have 17 per cent support each.

In B.C., the Conservatives are less dominant. They have 44 per cent support, while the NDP and Liberals are tied at 26 per cent.

Technical information

Results are based on nightly tracking among a proportionate national sample of Canadians 18 years of age or older.

Findings have been rolled up and analyzed over a three-day period. Interviews were conducted between Jan. 14 and 16.

For the tracking poll, the sample size and margin of error (with the margin of error in brackets) for each region are as follows for the popularity and momentum questions:

* Canada: 1,500 (2.5)
* Quebec: 370 (5.1)
* Rest of Canada: 1,129 (2.9)
* Ontario: 568 (4.1)
* GTA (416/905): 236 (6.4)
* Outside GTA: 332 (5.4)
* Prairies: 246 (6.3)
* British Columbia: 199 (7.0 per cent)

Q. (momentum) From what you can tell, which party, if any, is gaining the most popularity and momentum leading up to the election. Is it the ...?

Q. (party support) If the election was being held tomorrow, do you think you'd be supporting the (ROTATE LIST) Liberal candidate in your area, Conservative candidate in your area, the NDP candidate in your area, or the Green Party candidate in your area or (QUEBEC ONLY) Bloc Quebecois candidate in your area?

Q. (party support) In that case, which party's candidate in your local area would you be leaning towards at this time? Would it be the (ROTATE LIST) Liberal candidate in your area, Conservative candidate in your area, the NDP candidate in your area, or the Green Party candidate in your area or (QUEBEC ONLY) Bloc Quebecois candidate in your area?

www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060117/elxn_poll_060117/20060117?s_name=election2006
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