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Is the race to form federal government as close as it seems? Maybe not, poll suggest

WATCH: It’s about six months until the next federal election. A lot could change between now and then, but we have a snapshot of how Canadians would vote if an election were held today. Eric Sorensen reports.

If the latest election poll were a book, the cover might show a race track with Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau breaking through the ribbon at practically the same time, and Tom Mulcair close on their heels.

Don’t forget the old saying about books and their covers, though.

The latest Ipsos poll conducted for Global News shows a tight three-way race with the Conservatives leading at 33 per cent, the Liberals in a close second with 31 per cent and the NDP with 23 per cent.

READ MORE: A voter’s guide to political polling

Taking a look into the regions, however, produces a bit of a different picture, the poll shows.

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“We can get caught up in the top lines,” Ipsos senior vice president John Wright said in an interview. “But there’s a story in the bottom lines, too.”

Trudeau’s Liberals, for example, have tremendous support in the Atlantic provinces but nowhere else. The support there helps boost the party’s overall percentages, but won’t likely translate into much in terms bodies in the House of Commons, since there are few seats to win in the region.

“Vote numbers move up and down depending on the week,” Wright said. “They can push the overall numbers up, but don’t always produce seats.”

READ MORE: Tax relief for small biz, manufacturers, latest platform planks for NDP

In short, the poll suggests Harper and his Conservatives —leading in B.C., Alberta, the Prairies and Ontario — might be doing a lot better than they appear at first blush.

The NDP, as well, are holding more support than it may appear, the poll suggests.

In British Columbia, the New Democrats, at 30 per cent, are fighting the Conservatives, who are sitting with 32 per cent, for the top spot. The Liberals, meanwhile, are down at 26 per cent.

READ MORE: Who’s leading the battleground(s) for 2015?

In Quebec—the province that had the biggest hand in propelling the NDP to the official Opposition in the last election — Mulcair’s party holds 31 per cent support, ahead of the Liberals’ 25 per cent, the Conservatives’ 20 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois’ 15 per cent.

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“The wild card in this might be the NDP,” Wright said. “If the Liberals are battling for seats here, it’s usually with the NDP.”

His point was illustrated this week when Trudeau made appearances in Quebec City and Chicoutimi, Que. —regions where the NDP hold the seats.

Harper approval shooting up

The Conservative leader might have more than his increasing vote share to cheer about – his approval rating has reached 47 per cent from 44 per cent in February, and four in 10 voters say they believe his government deserves to be re-elected, the poll shows.

Although Canadians remain divided on whether the country is heading in the right direction (49 per cent) or the wrong track (51 per cent), support is up from five percentage points compared to July 2013 polling.

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll was conducted between April 2 and April 7, with a sample of 1,001 Canadians and is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.