A new poll suggests the provincial election widely believed to be called Wednesday may be a tight race.

The poll, conducted by Leger Marketing for the Journal de Montreal, found the PQ would take 37 per cent of the vote if the election were held today, followed by the Liberals with 35 per cent.

Francois Legault’s CAQ came in third with 15 per cent of the vote.

If only Francophone voters are considered, the PQ’s chances of forming the next government jump to 45 per cent.

“The lead from the Parti Quebecois among francophone voters is large enough that the window for a majority is definitely open,” said Leger Marketing analyst Sebastien Dallaire.

Nearly three quarters of respondents who speak languages other than French, however, would vote for the Liberals.

The poll also found PQ leader Pauline Marois’ approval rating to be at 27 per cent, 34 per cent among francophones.

Liberal leader Philippe Couillard came in second with 25 per cent.

A total of 1,502 respondents answered the internet survey between Feb. 28 and March 3, and has a 2.5 per cent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.

The poll also found that 49 per cent of respondents would vote no in a referendum on Quebec’s sovereignty. Francophones are split, with 51 per cent in favor and 49 per cent against, while the vast majority, 91 per cent of those who speak other languages would vote against separation.

Charter of Values gives PQ edge

The Leger Marketing firm said the PQ’s focus on the Charter of Values gave the minority government a strategic edge, shifting the focus away from the focus away from the political missteps that marked the early days of their mandate.

“There was a lot of backtracking on many issues, and they never backtracked on the Charter because it really became their brand over the past few months and it seems to have succeeded,” said Dallaire.

PQ staffer leaves over Charter

The Charter hasn’t sit well with all PQ supporters, however.

Also Wednesday, La Presse reported that PQ minister Jean-Francois Lisee lost his assistant chief of staff last week over the Charter of Values.

“It was a difficult decision. I loved working with our team. But I feel uncomfortable with the party’s Charter project,” Christine Frechette told the newspaper.

She refused to elaborate on what exactly made her uncomfortable about the project, saying her decision to step down “speaks for itself.”

She left the position Friday, after realizing the party would not be softening its position on the ban of religious symbols for public service employees.

Tuesday evening, Marois spoke to about 150 supporters in the Charlesbourg riding near Quebec City.

The PQ candidate in the riding is Dominique Payette, a journalist and the daughter of former PQ cabinet minister Lise Payette.

The riding is currently held by the CAQ.