the poll indicates the Conservatives would win about 36% of the popular vote, with the Liberals close behind at 33%, the New Democrats with 16%, the Bloc Quebecois 10%, and the Green Party 6%.
The bad news:
The biggest change for the Conservatives has been in Quebec where they have jumped from 20% in early February to an impressive 28% this week.
At the same time, the Liberals have been losing ground at a precipitous rate in the seat-rich province they once all but owned, dropping from 27% support two months ago to only 18% in the latest survey. Gilles Duceppe's Bloc Quebecois lead with 37%.
The other side:
In the West, support for the Conservatives remains unchanged at 41%, while the Liberals have increased their support five points to 35%, again taking votes from the new Democrats and Greens.
In the Maritimes, all the Harper-bashing by Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams over the budget has not altered Conservative support from two months ago.In fact, it is the Liberals that have bled about five points to Jack Layton's NDP and Greens, although the Grits still lead the Tories 40% to 28%.
The SES poll differs from some others, in that we see Harper making big gains in Quebec, which should give Liberals some pause. However, the Quebec strategy looks to have a cost in Western Canada, with the Liberals now QUITE competitive, when you factor out Alberta. Atlantic Canada is still solid Liberal terrority, even with the downtick, the Tories will lose seats if those numbers hold. Ontario is a deadheat, which seems to support the other polls which show volatility.
Whatever gains are made in Quebec, are countered with the potential loses elsewhere. Harper's Quebec numbers could mean a 10-15 seat gain the province, but you can quickly find a corresponding seat lose elsewhere in the country. If not for the gains in Quebec, the landscape would look decidedly bleak for Harper's prospects. One worrisome angle for the Conservatives, despite the momentum in Quebec, you can't discount the native son entirely. Dion might be down, but it would be foolish to think he can't rebound in his home province. If that were to happen in the campaign, then Harper's gambit may turn to disaster, as he has clearly alienated other regions to get his prize.
I don't see a great deal in this poll to cause Conservative excitement. You would have to think the Tory braintrust takes SES seriously, given the track record. This quote sums up the situation:
Nanos said. "I think for all intents and purposes, we are in a holding pattern."
The status quo, despite mountains of cash, favorable conditions and a supposed weak opponent. Maybe it's time for the media to turn the lens back on Harper's own failures, because that is real story in my mind.
Accidental Deliberations makes some relevant points about the NDP's fortunes in Quebec.