Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Network's Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get at the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: The Quebec Election: Will Quebecers vote with their pocket books?

The number:

15

percentage of Quebecers surveyed who feel they are better off over the past year.

The source: Nanos Research online survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted Aug. 16-17, 2012.

A new survey by Nanos Research asked: "Thinking of your personal finances, are you better off, worse off, or has there been no change over the past year?"

The results of the online survey suggest that while 20.8 per cent of Canadians nationwide believe they're better off, only 15.4 per cent of Quebeckers think that's the case.

People in the Prairies are feeling the most positive about their financial situation — 25.1 per cent of those respondents say they're better off than a year ago.

Across the country, 34.3 per cent of Canadians think they're worse off than a year ago — compared with 32.8 per cent of Quebecers and 34.3 per cent of people in the Prairie provinces.

The poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted online between Aug. 16-17, 2012.

 It comes as the Quebec election campaign heads into the homestretch and the outcome remains wildly unpredictable.

Liberal Leader Jean Charest has been in the hot seat through a series of debates that kicked off Sunday — fending off attacks over corruption claims and the troubled economy. But he has tried to turn to the table by warning a separatist government would be bad news for the economy.

Nanos said the state of the economy is a key factor driving voting behaviour.

"In this particular case, we're dealing with voters in the province of Quebec who are the most likely to think things are not great. And that's usually a risk for the government — so Charest has to nail this economic argument," he told Solomon on Power & Politics. "Hypothetically, it looks like he's trying to bridge it to sovereignty and independence in order to pin it to the Parti Québécois."

Nanos predicted the horse-race poll numbers will continue to bounce around in the final days of the campaign.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).