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NDP, Tories in virtual dead heat, either party could form minority government, says Forum Research poll

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  • Don Bain
    NDP, Tories in virtual dead heat, either party could form minority government, says Forum Research poll The race is so close, with much depending on splits
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2011
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      NDP, Tories in virtual dead heat, either party could form minority government, says Forum Research poll
      The race is so close, with much depending on splits between the Liberals and NDP support in some ridings, and regional voter preferences, Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff told The Hill Times. 'Voting realignment like this comes only once in a generation,' he said.

      By TIM NAUMETZ
      Published May 1, 2011 10:46 AM
      http://www.thehilltimes.ca/dailyupdate/view/ndp_tories_in_virtual_dead_heat_either_party_could_form_minority_government_says_forum_research_poll_05-01-2011



      Vote intentions: Voters head to the polls on May 2. A Forum Research survey says the race is extremely close between a Conservative or NDP minority government.
      The NDP and Conservative parties are in a virtual dead heat as voters prepare to troop the polls in the federal election Monday, a new poll by Forum Research suggests.

      But, while historic levels of support for the NDP continue to hold and rise in some areas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper could be headed toward his third consecutive minority government with the electorate nonetheless set to shake up the balance of power in Ottawa, the survey results show.

      The poll shows if Mr. Harper does win government, the NDP is most likely to become the official opposition, with up to 100 seats or more in a historic realignment of parties in the House of Commons. But Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff told The Hill Times the race is so close, either the NDP or the Conservatives could form government, with much riding on splits between the Liberals and NDP support in some ridings, and regional voter preferences.

      The Forum Research survey on Saturday gave the Conservative Party 35 per cent support from decided and leaning voters, with the NDP at 33 per cent and the Liberals at only 19 per cent, a morale-shattering low for the party so dominant over the past century.

      "Voting realignment like this comes only once in a generation," Mr. Bozinoff said.

      A seat projection from the results suggests the Conservatives could wind up with approximately 147 seats, only four more than the number Mr. Harper and his party won in the 2008 election.

      Crucially, in light of Mr. Harper's refusal so far to declare what he will do if his party is unable to form a sustainable majority government, the Forum Research results suggest NDP Leader Jack Layton and the Liberals, led by Michael Ignatieff, might be able to form a sustainable coalition government without the support of the separatist Bloc Québécois, or enter another form of arrangement that could supplant a Conservative government if Mr. Harper insists on a confidence test in the House and loses it.

      Mr. Bozinoff cautioned that with the normal margins of error for a survey of that size and uncertainties of seat projections, the election still might produce a either a Conservative or NDP minority government.

      "These results truly underscore how close the race has become between the NDP and Conservative parties," he said. "With polling day just around the corner, this federal election could be won by either party."

      In Ontario, with 106 Commons seats the key battleground in the final 24 hours before voting begins, NDP support grew to 31 per cent support from the last Forum Research poll conducted on April 27, with the Conservatives dipping from 38 per cent to 36 per cent. Support for the Conservatives was highest, at 40 per cent, in the Greater Toronto Area, which in the Forum Research poll includes the two-dozen ridings in the City of Toronto itself, and more than 30 ridings in the surrounding metropolitan area.

      The Liberal Party had support from 25 per cent of Ontario voters, slightly higher in the GTA at 30 per cent. That could be an indication the party is holding in most of its City of Toronto bastions, and other seats it holds in the area surrounding Toronto. Forum Research surveyed 1,421 eligible voters in Ontario, 616 within the GTA and 805 in the rest of the province.

      The nationwide survey all day Saturday reached 3,789 eligible voters. The interactive voice-response telephone survey is considered accurate plus or minus 1.6 per cent 19 times out of 20.

      The poll, the last of a series of surveys Forum Research has conducted in collaboration with The Hill Times through the campaign, shows the massive shift of Quebec voters to the NDP two weeks ago has held, as the party registered 33 support in the province, with nearly half of Montreal voters, 49 per cent, saying they have decided or are likely to support the NDP. The party had only one Quebec seat in the last Parliament, the Outremont riding held by deputy leader Thomas Mulcair.

      The Conservative Party received support from only 16 per cent in Quebec, which has 75 Commons seats, reflecting the reason behind Mr. Harper's visit to Quebec City as the campaign was winding down. It was a last-minute effort to try to retain some of the 11 seats his party held in the region in the last Parliament.

      The Liberal Party was down to support from only 13 per cent of voters in Quebec, vulnerable in the Montreal area to the NDP surge. Mr. Bozinoff identified Liberal Justin Trudeau as well as Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe as being threatened by the New Democrats, predicting a long election night for both when votes are counted Monday. The Bloc Québécois had support from 21 per cent of voters. The Conservative Party gained in the Atlantic provinces, which have a total of 32 Commons seats, from 26 to 31 per cent in the April 27 Forum Research survey, and at the expense of both the Liberals and NDP. The Liberals dropped to 26 per cent, and the NDP declined to 30 per cent.

      The Conservatives also gained in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where they already hold the vast majority of the 28 seats in the two provinces. The Conservatives grew to 45 per cent over the week, while the Liberals fell 15 per cent and the NDP to 33 per cent, still a level high enough to win back at least one or two of the seats it previously held in Saskatchewan.

      In Alberta, where the Conservatives hold all but one of the province's 28 seats, with the NDP fighting for a re-election in the Edmonton Strathcona riding, the survey results were unchanged from the last time.

      In British Columbia, where the Conservatives held 21 of the province's 36 seats in the last Parliament, and the NDP held nine, support for the New Democrats has grown to 37 per cent, while the poll gave the Conservatives support from 39 per cent of the respondents. Liberal support in the province, one of the regions where NDP growth can win Conservative seats, declined to 15 per cent from 19 per cent in the last Forum Research poll.

      The Green Party fell from 14 per cent to nine per cent in B.C., where Green Leader Elizabeth May is attempting to win a seat, and in this survey showed its best rating in Alberta, at 10 per cent support. Green candidates placed ahead of Liberal candidates in nearly a dozen of the province's ridings in the 2008 election.

      tnaumetz@...

      The Hill Times


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