Federal race for now is a three-way tie. So what’s going on?


EKOS 1EKOS 2EKOS 3AN Ekos poll conducted May 6-12 shows that the federal race is now a three-way tie. Just three points separate the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Liberals.

Ekos notes: “Interestingly, we saw similar results about two years ago, when all three parties were within five points of each other.”

Ekos points out that the five-point increase in NDP support over the last week appears to be one of NDP success, rather than a decline in Conservative or Liberal fortunes.

Although there are clear echoes of the recent Alberta result, Ekos states that “it would be a mistake to see the NDP ascension as merely a bounce from Alberta,” adding, “Indeed, there has been a clear pattern of an NDP rise over the last four months (from 18 points in early February to 29 points today).”

Ekos says there are two trends here:

  1. A dramatic capture of the university-educated vote, which was critical to the Alberta NDP’s historic victory last week. “Whether this is a ‘strategic’ response of the promiscuous progressive segment of the electorate (who are more focused on how best to depose [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper than any particular party choice) or just rising antipathy to the perceived anti-intellectualism of the current government is unclear,” it points out.
  2. A decisive lead in what was a log-jammed Quebec race. The NDP is also newly competitive in Ontario which is now a three-way race.

Ekos goes on to note that Stephen Harper’s already last-place approval rating is down sharply, as is the directional approval of the federal government, which has reached a new low for this year. Given these two findings, one could argue that Harper may be poised for decline. Harper now finds himself in a cluttered three-way tie, stuck ten points below his majority achievement in 2011. Moreover, this challenging position exists in spite of the fact that Harper and the Conservatives have clearly owned the airwaves and the podium.

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s approval numbers remain high and are comparable to those of Mulcair, suggesting that the Liberal Party’s stagnation is also due to other factors. In fact, Trudeau has seen a modest rise in his approval rating over the past few polls, says Ekos.

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s approval is actually down from last month (albeit insignificantly). This suggests the NDP rise is linked to factors beyond the luster of the party’s leader. It may be interesting whether Mulcair receives more critical scrutiny now that he is part of this new three-way tie, says Ekos.