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Tories have slight lead in popular support, but it may not be enough: Ipsos poll

Election night in Canada could be a long one.

The latest polling from Ipsos shows that ahead of Monday’s federal vote, the Conservatives have a slight advantage over the Liberals, but neither party is poised for a majority.

The poll, conducted between Oct. 17 and 19, found that if an election were held tomorrow, 33 per cent of decided voters said they would choose the Tories, while the Liberals have captured 31 per cent of support. The difference is within the poll’s credibility interval of plus or minus two percentage points.

READ MORE: 4 in 10 voters say a minority government is best but most prefer a majority: Ipsos poll

As Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker explains, the advantage the Conservatives have in the popular vote may not be enough to best the incumbent Liberals.

“The Tories have a less efficient vote than the Liberals have,” he said. “What that means is that the Liberals, because of where their votes are placed across the country, tend to get more seats for the number of votes they have.”

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The Conservatives have a big lead in Alberta and the Prairies that makes their national numbers “look a little bit better than they really are,” he said.

In fact, Canada appears to be split at the Ontario-Manitoba border in terms of party preference, according to Ipsos. While the west favours the Tories, the polling shows, provinces in Eastern Canada are more likely to go red.

Ipsos polling ahead of the 2019 federal election
Ipsos polling ahead of the 2019 federal election

“There is not a national consensus party this time around like we saw back in 2015, where the Liberals tended to do pretty well across the country with the exception of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan,” Bricker said.

In B.C., it’s more of a toss up — there are competitive races involving all of the parties, depending on the region.

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Support levels have not shifted very much throughout the 40-day campaign, Bricker said. Both the Conservatives and the Liberals are up a point each from polling released last week.

Federal Election 2019: Most Canadians say they believe majority government is best for country: Ipsos poll
Federal Election 2019: Most Canadians say they believe majority government is best for country: Ipsos poll

None of the other parties are within striking distance of the Liberals or Conservatives, the poll suggests.

Ipsos pegged the NDP‘s support at 18 per cent of the overall decided vote across the country, while the Green Party is at 6 per cent. Both parties are down two points.

As for the People’s Party of Canada, which is competing in a general election for the first time, it has gained one point, for a total of three per cent popular support among decided voters.

READ MORE: Should party with most seats get first crack at forming government? Here’s how minorities work

The Bloc Québécois has captured 29 per cent of voter support in Quebec, the province that holds the second highest number of seats overall at 78.

“I think we can describe the Bloc Québécois as a wildcard,” Bricker said. “Not just in terms of how the election campaign is going to turn out, but also what they might require in some sort of negotiation about what the future of the government is going to be.”

With such a tight race, there’s been plenty of speculation about alliances, or even a coalition, that could be formed in the event that neither the Liberals nor the Tories receive the 170 seats required to hold a majority in the House of Commons.

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“We’ll have the election, which probably won’t settle very much, and then the negotiations after that between the various parties —among the various parties— will decide what the government is going to be,” Bricker said.

While NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh at one point expressed support for the idea of working with the Liberals and then backtracked somewhat, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has repeatedly dodged the question on the campaign trail.

READ MORE: Singh speaks out against strategic voting, says to ‘never settle for less’

The poll found that among the federal party leaders, Trudeau has captured the largest chunk of support.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents said they thought the Liberal leader would make the best prime minister. Scheer is in second place at 26 per cent, making him less personally popular than his party overall. It was the opposite case for Singh, whom 21 per cent said would make the best federal leader.

Eight per cent chose Elizabeth May, while People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier and the Bloc’s Yves-François Blanchet captured five and four percent, respectively.

With two parties so closely matched in support, turnout will be a key factor in Monday’s outcome at the ballot box.

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“What we tend to find are voters who are older – they tend to be homeowners that tend to be people who are commuters – those are the people who tend to show up to vote,” said Bricker.

READ MORE: New numbers show 29% increase in advance voting over 2015: Elections Canada

Those voters, he said, tend to lean Conservative, giving that party an advantage. But in 2015, the Liberals were able to bring more younger voters to the polling station, particularly in Ontario, Bricker said.

“The question is this time, is he going to be able to do that? And that could make the difference in the election campaign,” he said.

READ MORE: Generation Z: What Canada’s youngest voters are worried about

Ipsos had found that Bloc voters (83 per cent) and Conservatives (80 per cent) are most likely to say they’ll turn up to vote for sure.

But others aren’t far off — about three-quarters of Liberal and NDP supporters said they were definitely going to cast a ballot.

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.” This poll was conducted between Oct. 17 and 19. For this survey, in total a sample of n = 3,108 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed via online panel and non-panel sources, and by telephone (landline and cellphones). Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. 

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