'Stakes could not be higher': Tories, Liberals tied ahead of leaders' debate, Ipsos poll finds

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The federal Conservatives and the Liberals are virtually tied ahead of Monday evening’s leaders’ debate.

An Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News between Oct. 4 and Oct. 7 found that support for the Liberals is up one percentage point (35 per cent) and down three percentage points (34 per cent) for the Conservatives from last week.

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If the election were held tomorrow, the poll also found the NDP would receive 15 per cent of the popular vote, and both the Green Party and Bloc Québécois would receive seven per cent. The People’s Party of Canada would garner two per cent of the vote.

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The findings of this poll, conducted after the French leaders’ debate last Wednesday, were largely similar to former results.

Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, told Global News that means the upcoming leaders’ debate has the potential to shake things up.

“They’re going to go head to head for 80 per cent of the Canadian population to see so the stakes could not be higher,” he said.

Bricker noted the French debate was a catalyst for change in Quebec.

“Where the dam is really broken is in the province of Quebec, where we’ve seen big movement for the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals holding on. Most of the movement has been against the Conservative Party, which has come down a little bit,” Bricker noted.

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In the province, the Liberal Party has a lead of 10 percentage points over the Bloc Québécois, which has the support of 30 per cent of voters. Support for the Conservative Party fell five percentage points following the debate and currently sits at 19 per cent.

In the two other key battleground provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, Liberals and Conservatives are running a tight race, Bricker said.

Approval for the Liberals’ performance in government is highest in Quebec at 50 per cent, followed by Atlantic Canada at 46 per cent, Ontario at 42 per cent, then B.C. at 38 per cent and Saskatchewan and Manitoba at 37 per cent. Approval of the Trudeau government is lowest in Alberta at 25 per cent.

Despite the fact that Liberals and Conservatives are running a tight race nationally, Canadians are more likely to think the former has a greater chance of forming government. Thirty-five per cent of Canadians think the Liberals will win the election, while 27 per cent believe the Conservatives will assume power. Four per cent think there will be an NDP government, two per cent think it will be the Greens, and one per cent think it will be another party.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has also moved into first position on the question of which party leader would make the best prime minister.

Thirty-five per cent of Canadians think Trudeau is best fit to be the country’s leader, while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is in second place at 30 per cent. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh sits at 14 per cent, the Green Party’s Elizabeth May is at 12 per cent and the PPC’s Maxime Bernier is at six per cent.

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Bricker noted that Trudeau and Scheer were close to tied on that question earlier, which means the Tory leader has a lot to prove at the debate.

“The debate tonight is going to provide him with an opportunity to look like a prime minister,” Bricker said. “It’s his chance to really demonstrate to Canadians that he’s prepared to take on this big job.”

Voter turnout remains key

More Canadians remain unsure of who will win the election than when the campaign began — 29 per cent say they don’t know, compared to an earlier 25 per cent.

When the writ dropped, 35 per cent of Canadians thought Liberals would win the election, and that number hasn’t changed. However, 27 per cent of Canadians now believe the Conservatives will form government — which is a decline of four percentage points.

Because the polls are so close, voter turnout will be crucial, Ipsos noted.

Conservative and Bloc Québécois voters were most likely to say they would vote on election day, at 71 per cent each. Liberal voters were slightly less likely to say they will vote at 68 per cent, followed by Green voters at 66 per cent and NDP voters at 63 per cent.

Overall, 62 per cent of Canadians say they will vote on election day, which is three percentage points lower than when the campaign began.

Bricker said that interest in this election hasn’t been as high as 2015, which means voter turnout may fall this time.

“Our anticipation is that we’re going to go back down to the levels of turnout that we saw in 2011,” he said, noting the debate has a potential to change that.

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Oct. 4 and 7, 2019, with a sample of 1,502 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.

The raw data for the Ipsos poll is available online.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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