The Quebec Liberals have solidified their lead in the polls on the eve of Thursday's leaders debate, according to a new poll which suggests that Philippe Couillard's party has opened a five point lead over the Parti Quebecois with the April 7 election just 18 days away.

The poll, released late Wednesday afternoon, has the Liberals leading with 37 percent against 32 percent for the PQ while the Coalition Avenir Quebec is at 16 percent, Quebec Solidaire 10 percent, Option Nationale three percent and others three percent.

The results factor in the 12 percent of voters who described themselves as undecided. 

The Ipsos Reid poll, the result of 810 interviews conducted on line between March 14 and 18, suggests that referendum talk has hurt the PQ, as 72 percent of Quebecers surveyed said that they believe that a vote for the Parti Quebecois is a vote for a referendum, an impression likely buttressed by star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau’s recent passionate declaration in favour of separation.

The PQ lead among francophones has plunged to just nine percent, as Pauline Marois’ party has 38 percent of francophone support, while 29 percent of francophones would vote for the Liberals, 18 percent for the CAQ and 12 percent for Quebec Solidaire.

Eighty percent of anglophones surveyed support the Liberals, while only six percent would vote for the Parti Quebecois and eight percent would vote for various other parties.

Liberal voters appeared more determined than others to actually cast ballots on April 7. Almost two thirds of Quebecers replied that “nothing short of an emergency could stop me from getting to the voting booth and casting my vote.” Liberal supporters were more likely to agree with that statement, so if those numbers are considered an accurate barometer of voter turnout, Ipsos Reid calculates that the Liberal lead rises to 40 percent versus 33 percent for the Parti Quebecois.

The results suggest growing discontent with the PQ government, as over two thirds of respondents (67 percent) feel that Quebec “is going in the wrong direction” while only 33 percent replied that Quebec is "headed on the right track.”

The Liberals have a 48 percent to 25 percent lead over the PQ on the island of Montreal, while the PQ leads in the suburbs 39 percent to 33 percent.

The PQ also has a lead in the Quebec City area, where 30 percent of voters are supporting Marois’ party against 27 percent for Couillard’s Liberals.

And while the CAQ numbers are down from the 2012 election, they are considered the second choice by 32 percent of Quebecers, while Quebec Solidaire is the second choice of 21 percent, the Green Party 18 percent, the Liberal 13 percent, the PQ nine percent and Option Nationale seven percent.

The second-choice numbers could be discouraging for the PQ, which appears to have little room to grow, considered that so few suggested that they might make the switch to Marois’ party. Only four percent of Liberals listed the PQ as their second choice, while 14 percent of PQ supporters had the Liberals as their second choice.

The PKP effect

The entry of Pierre Karl Peladeau into the race appears not made the splash that many PQ supporters had anticipated, as only 11 percent of those surveyed said that Peladeau’s arrival makes them more likely to vote for the PQ, while 26 percent said it makes them less likely.

Overall, voters were split on whether the media mogul's presence in the race helps, as 54 percent of Quebecers disagree with the statement that his arrival into politics is “a good thing for Quebec” while 46 percent think it was.

Quebecers also appear to have little appetite for a referendum, as only 18 percent would like to see the PQ hold a vote on sovereignty if they return to power, while 64 percent are against.

Only 30 percent would vote yes on a referendum question, while 51 percent would vote no. Support for separation declines further when the question has the term "partnership with Canada" replaced by "separate from Canada."

Seven in 10 (69 percent) feel that sovereignty would cause “significant economic disruption, while 31 percent disagreed.

One in three respondents (33 percent) said that the PQ’s policies are a part of a “deliberate strategy to antagonize minorities so they will leave the province.”

Philippe Couillard was deemed the most trustworthy of the leaders by 29 percent of those polled. Marois was five points back at 24 percent while Francois Legault was chosen by 19 percent of those surveyed. The poll of 810 computer respondents via online panel was commissioned by CTV and conducted between March 14 and 18. It is considered accurate to within plus or minus four percentage points.



Quebec Factum

Quebec Tables 2

Quebec Tables 1