The next federal election is years away, but new polling numbers from Nanos Research suggest national voting intentions are still in a three-way race.
The pollster's latest national telephone survey found the percentage of respondents who said they would vote Conservative relatively stable compared to last month, at 33.8 per cent to 33.1 per cent. That figure is down from the nearly 40 per cent of the popular vote the Tories had in the 2011 election.
What has been changing underneath that number is the race for second place. Earlier in the year, as Tom Mulcair won the NDP leadership, there was a significant gap between the NDP and the Liberal numbers, with the NDP challenging the Tories for first place.
The tables have turned in the last couple of months, with the Liberals now in second at 29 per cent, down one point from 30.1 in October, and the NDP in third at 27.2 per cent, down just under one point from 27.9 last month.
That leaves the top three federal parties within just over five points of each other, in a poll with a margin of error that could adjust any of the figures three points in either direction.
"The wild card in the ballot equation remains the federal Liberals," says Nik Nanos, the president of Nanos Research. "Although the Conservatives are ahead, the Liberals are in a tight race with the NDP.
"The impact of the Liberal leadership process and also the impact of the next leader of the Liberal Party remains an unknown," he says.
The survey also found:
- Bloc Québécois support is relatively stable at just under five per cent nationally. The Quebec-only party now ranks third behind the NDP and Liberals in federal voting intentions, in a province where it once dominated.
- National support for the Green Party is up slightly to 3.7 per cent from 2.9 per cent last month.
- The number of undecided voters was up nearly five points from the Nanos poll's October figures, now standing at 22.7 per cent nationally.
The Nanos Research survey's leadership index suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper still enjoys a comfortable lead when respondents are asked to rate the current federal leaders on trust, competence and vision for Canada.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae is included in the leadership index, as federal Liberals begin their race to choose a new leader in April.
This random telephone poll of 1,004 Canadians aged 18 and over was conducted between Nov. 9 and Nov. 15. A random sample of this size is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For the voting intentions of the smaller sample of 776 committed voters, the margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 points, 19 times out of 20.