The governing Conservative Party’s advantage over the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has shrunk in Canada over the past two months, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample of 1,014 Canadians also shows that the national approval rating for both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and opposition leader Thomas Mulcair is practically the same, based on the strength of their performances in specific areas of the country.

Voting Intention

Across Canada, 37 per cent of decided voters and leaners (unchanged since March) would support the governing Tories in the next federal election.

The New Democrats remain in second place but have gained four points since March to reach 33 per cent. The Liberal Party is third with 18 per cent (-3), followed by the Bloc Québécois with seven per cent (-1), and the Green Party with four per cent (=).

The Conservatives maintain their position as the most popular party in Alberta (61%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (49%) and Ontario (41%). In British Columbia, the Tories are virtually even with the NDP (41% to 40%). In Quebec, since Mulcair took over as leader, the New Democrats have gained ten points (43%, with the Bloc a distant second at 27%). The Liberals post their best numbers in Atlantic Canada (35%), but have dropped seven points in Ontario (23%).

Among male decided voters, the Conservatives keep a sizeable lead over the New Democrats (43% to 28%). Among women, the NDP is now the frontrunner (39%), with the Tories eight points behind (31%). The New Democrats also have a double-digit lead over the Conservatives among voters aged 18-to-34 (40% to 30%). The Tories hold a 12-point advantage among Canadians over the age of 55 (41% to 29%).

Three federal parties—Conservatives, New Democrats and the Bloc—are holding on to at least four-in-five of the voters who supported them in last year’s federal election. The Liberals have a retention rate of 72 per cent, and are losing one-in-five voters (21%) to the Mulcair-led NDP. The Greens can count on the support of two thirds of their 2011 voters (66%), but would see 26 per cent of them support the New Democrats instead.

Approval and Momentum

The approval rating for New Democratic Party (NDP) and Official Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair is 46 per cent, while Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper checks in this month at 45 per cent. One third of Canadians approve of the way interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae (34%) and Green Party leader Elizabeth May (also 34%) are performing their duties.

While the numbers for Harper and Mulcair are very similar, it is their regional popularity that places them in similar footing across Canada. Harper gets high marks in Alberta (73%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (53%), but only garners the approval of 28 per cent of Quebecers. Conversely, Mulcair’s performance gets a positive review from 70 per cent of Quebecers, but only one-in-five Albertans (20%).

The momentum score for the four national party leaders is negative this month, with Mulcair (-1), May (-4) and Rae (-8) posting better numbers than Harper (-29).

Analysis

The official arrival of Thomas Mulcair to the federal political scene has provided a boost to the New Democrats, who have gained four points in two months and are the most popular political force in Quebec. The NDP is also now virtually tied with the Conservatives in British Columbia, and has clearly surpassed the Liberals to become the second choice for voters in Ontario.

The NDP’s gains have not affected the Conservatives, who are still ahead in Ontario and can count on the support of most voters in Alberta. The New Democrats are benefitting from an erosion of Liberal and Green support. The Grits are now at 18 per cent at the national level, with particularly low numbers in British Columbia (13%) and Quebec (10%). The Greens are seeing one-in-four of their voters saying they would vote for the Mulcair-led NDP.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

CONTACT:

Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+877 730 3570
mario.canseco@angus-reid.com

Methodology: From May 22 to May 23, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,014 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.