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Liberals' momentum gets boost from lacking NDP leadership

Interim Leader Bob Rae and party president Mike Crawley take questions at the Liberal policy convention in Ottawa on Jan. 15, 2012.

Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

An entire weekend of Bob Rae photo-ops and lack of NDP leadership is giving Liberals much-needed momentum at the New Democrat's expense, according to a new national online poll.

More significantly, the Angus Reid public opinion poll shows that 15 per cent of NDP voters in 2011 "are now looking at the Liberals as the party they would vote for in the next election," says pollster Mario Canseco.

"This suggests that some of the Canadians who supported the NDP in the last election because of Jack Layton are not staying there during the transition to a new leader," he says.

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His poll also shows that 11 per cent of Liberal voters would support the NDP.

But Mr. Canseco cautions that 31 per cent of all voters chose the NDP in May, compared to 19 per cent who chose Liberal. "So, 15 per cent of 31 per cent is bigger than 11 per cent of 19 per cent," he says.

NDP Interim leader Nycole Turmel is to be replaced by a new leader after the party's leadership convention next month. So far, the race for the leadership has not attracted a lot of media attention.

The new poll shows the NDP are still in second place in the horserace, behind the Harper Conservatives. However, the NDP has dropped three points while the Liberals have gained exactly three points since the national polling firm's August survey.

Released Tuesday, the poll shows the Conservatives with 39 per cent support of decided voters, the NDP have 28 per cent and the Liberals are at 22 per cent followed by the Bloc at six per cent and Elizabeth May's Green Party with five per cent support.

Mr. Canseco says the Liberal momentum is due, in part, to the recent Liberal Party biennial policy convention that featured wall-to-wall news coverage for Interim leader Rae and the party.

And he notes that Mr. Rae's approval rating at 35 per cent is much higher than what was posted by former leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. However, it is below that of Prime Minister Harper, whose rating is 43 per cent. Ms. Turmel has a rating of 32 per cent.

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Regionally, the poll shows the Conservatives leading in Alberta and Ontario with 65 and 42 per cent respectively. The Liberals are in second place in Ontario with 29 per cent and the NDP have the support of 24 per cent of respondents.

But it is not all bad news for the NDP, which still has considerable support in Quebec where it won 59 of 75 seats in the May election. The party has the support of 33 per cent of respondents compared to 18 per cent for the Liberals and 17 per cent for the Conservatives. The Bloc is at 23 per cent.

In addition, the NDP are strong in British Columbia with 40 per cent support compared to 34 per cent for the Conservatives and 20 per cent for the Liberals.

The online poll of 1,000 voters was conducted between January 20 and January 21.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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