NDP candidates hope to translate Quebec surge into seats
Several polls are giving Jack Layton and the New Democratic Party an edge in Quebec, and for the first time indicating they have more support than the Bloc Quebecois.
According to a CROP La Presse poll conducted over the past week, 36 percent of Quebecers would vote for the NDP today if given the option.
That's a full 5 percentage points higher than the BQ's support, and well above the Conservative and Liberal parties, which have 17 and 13 percent support respectively.
NDP support is even higher in Montreal, where 40 percent of voters support the left-wing party.
Jack Layton is also running away with the personal support of voters, having more support than all other party leaders combined.
38 percent of those polled think Layton would make the best prime minister, compared to 11 percent each for Gilles Duceppe and Stephen Harper, while only 8 percent support Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
The poll indicates only 2 percent of voters in Quebec support the Green party and its leader, Elizabeth May.
Layton has widespread personal support
That personal support for Layton is reflected in nationwide polls.
A Canadian Press-Harris-Decima poll shows that 42 percent of voters have a favourable impression of Ignatieff, which is much higher than when the electoral campaign began.
43 percent of voters think favourably of Harper, but Layton remains the most popular leader at 68 percent.
However Ignatieff and Harper are still highly divisive figures.
More than half of the country, 52 percent, dislike Prime Minister Harper, while 50 percent have a negative impression of Ignatieff.
In Quebec 65 percent of voters have a favourable impression of Duceppe.
Other polls show growth, but not as dramatic
The Nanos research poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail shows a growth in support for the NDP, but not the massive surge shown by the CROP-La Presse poll
According to the poll released Thursday morning support for the Conservative Party is at 39 percent, while the Liberals have 27 percent support, and the NDP is at 22 percent.
The Bloc has dropped to 7.5 percent.
Here in Quebec, the Bloc remains highest in the polls with 32 percent support while the NDP are second with 23 percent.
The Liberals have 21 percent and the Conservatives have 17.5 percent.
The number of undecided voters is a hefty 21 percent.
However the margin of error in the regional breakdown for the Nanos poll is fairly large, at +/- 6.4%. 238 people in Quebec were questioned on April 20.
Montreal candidates hope to capitalize
Tyrone Benskin, an actor and well-known Montrealer, is running for the NDP in the Jeanne Le Ber riding.
He says that while knocking on doors in Verdun he has met many people who are on the fence about voting.
"I guess the biggest number, for me, is the undecideds, and the undecideds who say it's clearly between the NDP and the Bloc," said Benskin.
"Just that alone tells me than something is resonating with the NDP."
Analysts say they have noticed a groundswell of support for the NDP in Quebec.
Former Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MP Jean Lapierre was recently in Chicoutimi and Riviere des Loups.
"Everywhere they're saying 'we've been voting for the Bloc for 20 yers and it's time for change. I'm voting for Jack,'" said Lapierre.
He says voters have been leaning away from the Bloc for several years, but disappointment with the Liberal Adscam, and Harper's proposal to cut funding for the arts in 2008, brought people back.
"I think Gilles Duceppe made a mistake in going around the province for the 20th anniversary" of the Bloc, said Lapierre, because that reminded many voters that they have been voting for a protest party for decades.
Gazette columnist Don Macpherson believes the NDP support may not translate into seats.
"In some ridings you could have three-way fights," said Macpherson. "An example is the Gatineau riding in the Outaouais, where the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc are all in contention."
The CROP/La Presse poll surveyed 1000 people online from April 13 to 20, 2011.
The Nanos Research survey is based on a random, national telephone sample of 1,015 decided Canadians conducted between April 18-20. The margin of error is plus-minus 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.