The federal Conservatives have opened up a 12½-point lead over the opposition Liberals — their largest lead since October 2009 — a new EKOS survey suggests.
The latest results from EKOS, released exclusively to CBC News, found 37.3 per cent of respondents said they would vote for Stephen Harper's Conservatives if an election were held now, compared with 24.8 per cent who said they'd vote for Michael Ignatieff's Liberals.
Jack Layton's New Democrats received the support of 14.2 per cent of respondents, while the Green Party received 10.7 per cent and 9.9. per cent backed the Bloc Québécois.
The Tories' lead increased by two percentage points since the previous EKOS poll, released two weeks ago. The Liberals saw their support drop by more than three percentage points since Jan. 27.
NDP support remained steady, while the Greens and Bloc each saw an increase of less than a percentage point.
Liberal support, the survey suggests, is lower than the result in the 2008 federal election — the party's worst-ever showing at the polls.
In total, a random sample of 1,652 Canadians aged 18 and over responded to the survey between Feb. 4-9. The margin of error associated with the total sample is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The survey comes as speculation continues to swirl about whether the opposition parties will support the upcoming budget. The Liberal Party has signalled that it may defeat a budget that does not roll back corporate tax cuts, though the NDP has indicated it will judge the budget as a whole before making a decision.
But all parties have said that they are prepared for an election, whenever one may be called.
"Opposition fortunes have taken a decidedly downward pitch since they started talking election," the EKOS report said.
"The Liberals and the NDP... might want to consider an urgent rethink of their preliminary election framing, or perhaps even the idea of an election at all."