Tories close gap, but NDP still leads poll as election draws nearer

The rally brings the Conservatives into a statistical tie with the NDP, taking the country back into familiar territory of a two-party race, but with an unfamiliar twist. From left to right: Darryl Dyck, Sean Kilpatrick, Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — As speculation of an imminent writ drop grows increasingly louder, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives appear to be bouncing back from a recent slide in the polls, data released Tuesday suggests.

The rally brings the Conservatives into a statistical tie with the NDP, taking the country back into familiar territory of a two-party race, but with an unfamiliar twist.

“It’s a new-school two party race, with a distinct right and a distinct left,” said Darrel Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

READ MORE: Olivia Chow to re-enter federal politics as NDP candidate

If voters had to mark their ballots tomorrow, 34 per cent would vote for the Thomas Mulcair-led New Democrats (down one point since last month), while 33 per cent would vote for the Conservatives (up five points since last month), according to an Ipsos poll conducted for Global News.

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Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, meanwhile, continue a descent that began early in the New Year; they’re down four points since June, now holding 25 per cent of the vote.

With a full 18 per cent — or nearly two in 10 voters — undecided, though, the election theoretically remains anyone’s to win.

The new data shows the polling trend is no blip for the NDP, Bricker said.

READ MORE: Is the NDP good for the economy? New poll suggests nearly half of Canadians say yes

“This provides a rational view of what the public wants as a replacement, and it’s the NDP, ” he said. “The public has looked at the Liberals and passed them by … It’s pretty hard to see where the Liberals can fit in.”

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The poll was conducted between July 23 and 27, just days after Canadians with children received the Conservatives’ pumped-up child-care cheques, aka “Christmas in July.”

READ MORE: Who benefits from Canada’s Universal Child Care benefit?

Despite the fanfare, though, it seems the bolstered Universal Childcare Benefit had little to do with the Conservatives’ rise in the poll. In fact, the taxable benefit may have even worked backwards for the Harper Conservatives.

Poll analysis from Ipsos showed 18 per cent of voters with children younger than 18 years old in the household (i.e. voters eligible for the benefit) said receiving the benefit made them less likely to vote for the Conservatives; just 14 per cent polled said the benefit made them more likely to vote for the governing party.

Close to seven in 10 voters, meanwhile, said the benefit had no effect on their voting intentions, according to the poll.

READ MORE: Tory, suburban ridings to gain most from enriched child benefits

Tuesday’s analysis also suggests the NDP, currently sitting atop the poll, have the most to gain as the fixed-election date approaches.

The reason is two-fold: for one, the anti-Harper vote appears to be consolidating around the New Democrats with nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of voters selecting Mulcair’s team as the best alternative to Harper’s. In comparison, 38 per cent say the same for Trudeau’s Liberals. (Even 11 per cent of Liberal voters polled said they believe the NDP is the best alternative, suggesting room for the Liberals to continue dropping in the polls.)

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Secondly, the NDP ranks highest as a second choice among those polled, the data shows. Should any voters’ top pick stumble and fall, 23 per cent said they would select the NDP, 21 per cent chose theLiberals and 10 per cent said the Conservatives.

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Update: The note below was updated the afternoon of July 29 to include the fact this poll’s respondents were from an online panel. 

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 July 23 and July 27, with a sample of 2,000 Canadians, including 1,571 decided voters, from Ipsos’ online panel and is accurate to within 2.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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