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Tories enter second week with commanding 14-point lead

Tory Leader Stephen Harper plays ball-hockey in Ottawa on April 3, 2011.


The Conservatives have opened up a 14-point lead over the Liberals, according to a Nanos daily tracking poll, and start the second full week of the election campaign sitting firmly above the 40-per-cent mark - the kind of support that typically leads to a majority government.

Stephen Harper's party leads the Liberals in every region of the country, trailing only the Bloc in Quebec.

The Nanos Research survey conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV shows Mr. Harper's Conservatives with the support of 42.3 per cent of respondents, a wide lead over Michael Ignatieff's Liberals at 28.4 per cent. The NDP is at 16.4 per cent and the Greens at 3.8 per cent.

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It's not good news for Mr. Ignatieff's Liberals, who released their campaign platform Sunday and will now fight the rest of the campaign without a stock of campaign policy promises that might help them alter the course.

But it's still too soon to say whether the Liberal platform will have an impact on the race. The tracking poll, which combines samples conducted over the last three days, was conducted April 1 to 3, and many of Sunday's survey interviews were completed in the afternoon, only hours after Mr. Ignatieff released his manifesto.

But the results still mean that the at the outset of the second full week of campaigning, the Liberals are fighting to limit the Tories to minority government. And the NDP have for days remained below the levels of support they received in the 2008 election.

The poll has now placed Mr. Harper at levels of support above 40 per cent for three straight days. That level is traditionally seen as the yardstick for forming a majority government.

Mr. Harper is starting the week with a clear attempt to convert the lead into individual seats, campaigning against the long-gun registry in Welland, Ont., against NDP incumbent Malcom Allen.

In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois remain ahead at 34. 6 per cent. But the Conservatives appear to be solidly in second, with 25.1 per cent. The Liberals trail in third with 17.7 per cent, and the NDP with 16.9 per cent. The margin of error for that sample is 6.6 per cent.

The Conservatives lead in every other region, and not only holding big leads in B.C. and the Prairies but also holding the edge in Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

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In British Columbia, the Tories now have 49.7 per cent support, compared to 23.4 per cent for the Liberals and 20.6 per cent for the NDP. In Ontario, the Conservatives lead with 43.0 per cent, over the Liberals with 37.5 per cent, while the NDP have 16.2 per cent support.

The three-day tracking poll is a national survey aimed at catching the evolving voting intentions of Canadians. Each night a new group of 400 interviews is added to the sample and the oldest group of 400 is dropped, producing a rolling average.

Nanos reports that its margin of error for a survey of 1,200 respondents is plus or minus 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increases with regional numbers, which are drawn from smaller samples.

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About the Author
Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More

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