OTTAWA – Canadian women are in the driver’s seat and steering politics toward the Liberal centre, suggests a new poll of the evolving federal landscape.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey gives the Liberals under Michael Ignatieff a five-point lead on the slumping Conservatives, driven in large part by urban and suburban women.
“There’s literally five campaigns happening simultaneously (across Canada),” pollster Jeff Walker of Harris-Decima said Tuesday in an interview.
“Different parties are taking away from other different parties in different parts of the country.”
The latest snapshot of voter intention puts Liberal support at 34 per cent, an eight-point increase on the party’s share of the popular vote in last October’s federal election.
Conservative support in the poll stood at 29 per cent, with the NDP at 15, the Greens at 11 and the Bloc Quebecois at nine per cent.
The Tories are down eight points from the Oct. 14 election and the New Democrats are down three.
According to Harris-Decima’s Walker, Conservatives are bleeding support to the Liberals vote-for-vote in Quebec. In Ontario, Tory support is holding but the NDP is losing ground to the climbing Grits. And the “cumulative trend” in British Columbia has the Conservatives down a little, the NDP steady and the Liberals up a little.
The common theme? “It’s all being driven by women,” says Walker.
The survey suggests the Liberals under Ignatieff enjoyed a 17-point national lead over Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives among urban and suburban women – 40 per cent support to 23 per cent. Among all women surveyed, the Liberal lead over the Tories was 36-28.
Walker believes that may account for the Tories’ renewed emphasis on tough-on-crime legislation, as the party appeals to more risk-averse voters.
“I think they’re hoping that the crime issue is going to take root among women, and particularly women in urban and suburban Canada,” said the pollster.
The telephone survey of more than 2,000 people was conducted April 23 to May 3 and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
Regional breakdowns, which have a greater margin of error, suggest there’s shifting voter support in parts of the country where seats could change hands in an election.
In Quebec, the Bloc at 38 per cent holds only a three-point lead on the Liberals, while the Conservatives (9) are in single digits along with the Greens (9) and New Democrats (7).
The Quebec results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
In Ontario, the Liberals are at 40 per cent, thanks in large part to an NDP slide to 15 per cent. The Tories have held relatively steady from October with 34 per cent support in Canada’s most populous province. The Greens are at nine per cent.
The Ontario results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
In B.C. – where Walker says three-way vote-splitting magnifies even small changes in popular support – the Tories lead at 32 per cent, with the Liberals and NDP tied at 25 and the Greens at 14 per cent. The margin of error is plus or minus 6.2 percentage points.
The poll suggested the Conservatives remain in control on the Prairies while the Liberals maintain a significant lead in Atlantic Canada.