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Liberals fall, Conservatives steady as election race remains neck-and-neck: poll

Click to play video: 'If election were held tomorrow, Liberals would only get 31 per cent of popular vote: poll' If election were held tomorrow, Liberals would only get 31 per cent of popular vote: poll
If election were held tomorrow, Liberals would only get 31 per cent of popular vote: poll – Aug 31, 2021

The Liberals’ support is continuing to crumble as the election campaign reaches the halfway point, a new poll suggests, with the party now falling behind the Conservatives for the first time while staying in a statistical tie.

The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 32 per cent of voters would cast a ballot for the Conservatives, a number unchanged from last week. But the Liberals saw their potential vote share go down two points, to 31 per cent.

The NDP, meanwhile, is continuing to gain ground, with 23 per cent of voters surveyed supporting them — up two points from last week — suggesting the party is peeling away progressive support from Justin Trudeau.

“The Liberals should be very worried about where they are in the campaign,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, “because all they’ve done since the start is lose momentum and lose support.

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“What we’re seeing based on these numbers is a majority is very, very far away. And the Liberal Party will be fighting to even win the plurality of seats in this election campaign and may even come second to the Conservative Party.”

Read more: Anger over pandemic election rises as some Canadians feel unsafe voting in person: poll

The poll, which surveyed over 1,500 Canadians online last week, suggests the Green Party is continuing to struggle and would earn only four per cent of voter support. The Bloc Quebecois would receive 30 per cent of the vote in Quebec, or equal to seven per cent nationally.

Eleven per cent remain undecided, while three per cent said they would not vote at all.

The results show the Liberals have lost their advantage over the Conservatives within the valuable 55-and-over voting bloc, which tends to be the most reliable on election day. Forty per cent of older voters surveyed said they will vote Conservative, while 33 per cent chose the Liberals — a flip from just two weeks ago.

The Liberals are also facing dead heats in the battleground provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, the last of which now sees the governing party in third place behind the NDP and the Conservatives.

Click to play video: 'Where the parties stand on week 3 of the campaign' Where the parties stand on week 3 of the campaign
Where the parties stand on week 3 of the campaign – Aug 31, 2021

In Ontario, the Liberals and Conservatives are statistically tied within the margin of error at 35 and 33 per cent, respectively, suggesting the Liberals are in danger of losing a number of seats. The Bloc Quebecois is also nipping at the Liberals’ heels in Quebec, where the two parties are separated by just one percentage point.

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The numbers pale to the start of the campaign, when polling suggested the Liberals were dominating every demographic and region of the country, except for the Prairie provinces that tend to vote Conservative.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is that it’s not so much … the other campaigns that are necessarily attracting people,” Bricker said. “It’s that the people who were considering voting for the Liberal Party have become disenchanted as a result of the calling of the election in the way it was called.”

But Bricker was quick to give credit to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has positioned himself and his party as a viable progressive alternative to Trudeau and the Liberals.

“They’re the biggest risers through the course of this election campaign compared to how they performed in the last election,” he said, adding the collapse of the Green Party nationally has also sent Green voters to the NDP.

Click to play video: 'Canada election: Liberals, Conservatives and NDP make campaign promises as race tightens' Canada election: Liberals, Conservatives and NDP make campaign promises as race tightens
Canada election: Liberals, Conservatives and NDP make campaign promises as race tightens – Aug 30, 2021

Afghanistan makes an impact

The poll also surveyed voters’ feelings on how the country’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan may have played a role in their intended vote, and it spells even more trouble for Trudeau.

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The Taliban took over the country’s capital on the same day Trudeau called the election, forcing him to defend his government’s military and diplomatic strategies throughout the campaign.

Although 45 per cent of those surveyed said the situation hasn’t impacted their choice, 31 per cent said they are now less likely to vote for the Liberals due to the government’s handling of evacuations from Kabul.

The NDP appears to have peeled off some Liberal voters strictly because of the Afghanistan crisis, with one in three NDP voters saying they’re less likely to vote Liberal.

“Almost everybody who says they have been affected by what’s happened in Afghanistan, they’ve disapproved of the performance of the government on this issue,” Bricker said. “So it’s just one more negative that’s added up for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party.”

Read more: Trudeau says he won’t ‘back down’ to protesters at rallies, despite safety concerns

Trudeau’s overall job approval rating continues to be underwater, the poll suggests, with 46 per cent of voters saying they approve of the job his government has done. Thirty-eight per cent of Canadians surveyed said his party deserves re-election because of its performance in government.

Curiously, the gulf between that re-election support and the popular vote share for the Liberals has grown as the party falls out of favour. Bricker says that gap usually tightens as a campaign goes on.

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“What it suggests is that while Canadians acknowledge that the government performed really well during the course of the pandemic, they don’t like the way that this election was called, and they don’t like the way that the Liberal Party has campaigned since the start of this campaign,” he said.

Bricker says Trudeau and the Liberals have very little time to reverse its fortunes.

“These next three weeks are going to be a barn burner,” he said. “And it’s certainly not what Justin Trudeau was anticipating when he kicked this campaign off three weeks ago.”

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 27 and 30, on behalf of Global News.  For this survey, a sample of n = 1,501 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources.  Respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation.  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 polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here: https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/

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