Five months from a federal election, and the three main parties are in a dead heat.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor had one hell of a scoop last night. The veteran journalist reported on Twitter shortly after 10 p.m. EST that preliminary numbers from a “big pollster” that will be “out soon” have the NDP leading in federal vote intention, albeit in a race so tight that all three parties are within the margin of error of one another.
A big pollster has some stunning national horserace numbers out soon. Preliminary results have NDP out in front. pic.twitter.com/8WiQ1FPtU3— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) May 14, 2015
Based on the use of what appears to be their traditional graphics many observers have assumed that the big pollster in question is EKOS Research Associates, but there has been no confirmation. During the Alberta election, EKOS president Frank Graves tweeted similar preliminary numbers, which changed slightly in the final release.
McGregor had another teaser, tweeting a snapshot of the national trendline, which showed a surge in support for the New Democrats.
Pretty amazing national trendlines for the NDP, preliminary results of this poll show... pic.twitter.com/CE6YvEzKtT— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) May 14, 2015
A single poll months away from an election doesn’t mean much, but what’s worrying for the other parties is that this poll fits into an emerging trend of improved fortunes for the NDP. The Liberals, on the other hand, are in serious decline. All the triumphalism of the chosen son has evaporated as the party’s support has dropped steadily, losing a total of almost 10 points from late last year.
The narrative that Justin Trudeau’s communications team has been selling to the media is that this fall’s election boils down to a choice between the red door and the blue door, and haven’t Canadians had enough of the blue door? The new poll, if it turns out to be correct, might have the NDP leading by less than a single percentage point, but it’s a psychological dagger to the heart of the Liberal strategic voting argument. How can the Liberals call the NDP a non-factor in the face of polls they lead, however slightly?
Do you suppose Trudeau would like a mulligan on his disastrous C-51 position? It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that his naked politicking — claiming to oppose the bill while instructing his MPs to vote for it in order to avoid providing Harper with political ammunition — has much to do with his current predicament.
The Alberta election result, and the psychological permission it conferred to some Canadians to follow the lead of our most conservative province and support the NDP, is no doubt also a factor.
But NDP supporters should hold the parade. McGregor is reporting a single poll, and it remains to be seen if these numbers will hold up. But for now, it’s looking more like a close three-way race to the finish.