The survey conducted Aug. 25 and 26, shows that 34 per cent of decided voters - up 1 percentage point from July - would vote for the Conservatives compared to 30 per cent for the Liberals, down 4 percentage points since July. The NDP is third with 18 per cent, up 2 percentage points, followed by the Greens with nine per cent or up 2 points and the Bloc Québécois with eight per cent or down 2 points. The Greens are leading the BQ for the first time this year.
It's been month since the last AR poll, so slight movement but something to consider. Of note, their poll two weeks prior had shown a 3% Con lead, prior to that a 6% lead. Probably the most telling data, that explains the change:
Harper's personal popularity has taken off with 27 per cent of Canadians preferring him as prime minister compared to 17 per cent for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. Layton is third with 12 per cent. In vote rich Ontario Harper leads Ignatieff by 13 points.
"Taken off" doesn't quite translate, since Harper is basically where he's always been of late. What is different, Ignatieff has tailed off. Ignatieff has taken a pounding in the press of late, which explains his downward trend. As well, Ignatieff's momentum score has steadly worsened since the "honeymoon". With the summer lull over, the hope is that Ignatieff can re-establish himself. These numbers suggest he needs to, Ignatieff is no longer the draw he was a few months ago.
In Ontario, a statistical tie, Liberals 37%, Conservatives 35%, Greens 15%, NDP 13%. The last AR poll gave the Liberals a six point edge. Again, Ignatieff trails Harper badly in Ontario, whereas he was tied or better in previous samples. It does appear, taking all the polls into consideration, that the Liberal lead in Ontario has virtually vanished. Statistical ties won't do it for the Liberals, if they have any hope in an election. This said, the potential is there to regain a wide lead, the campaign will obviously determine.
In Quebec, Liberals and Bloc tied at 33%, Conservatives at 16%. Last poll the Bloc had a 38% to 34% lead, Conservatives at 13%. A relatively good result for the Liberals here, the minor erosion we've seen elsewhere isn't evident.
With the NDP placing fourth in Ontario, one might wonder why they've gained nationally. AR gives the NDP a very strong results in high MOE regions, second in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia.
Here's what the general vibe and polls tell me. The Liberals are essentially entering the fall session stone cold, with little identity or messaging that's attractive. Ignatieff needs traction (which I suspect he will get, simply as a function of Parliamentary realities) and "flesh" that changes this developing negative narrative. Not panic, but pro-active.