Poll Tracker: Liberal fortunes improve following 1st leaders' debate

The first poll conducted since last week's national leaders' debate reveals a small uptick for the Liberals. Eric Grenier updates the CBC Poll Tracker with the latest numbers from Ipsos Reid.

After a period of decline and stagnation, has a strong debate performance boosted Trudeau's Liberals?

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, as Green Party leader Elizabeth May greets NDP leader Tom Mulcair, right, after the Maclean's leaders' debate Aug. 6. A new poll gives a slight edge to Trudeau and May for their performance. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The first poll conducted after the Maclean's national leaders' debate last week suggests that the race remains close — and that the Liberals just might be turning a corner.

The CBC Poll Tracker still places the New Democrats in first place with 33 per cent, followed closely by the Conservatives at 30.8 per cent and the Liberals at 27.2 per cent.

The averages, which heavily weight the latest Ipsos Reid/Global News poll due to it being the only poll conducted since the election was called on Aug. 2 (a Nanos Research poll released Tuesday was a four-week rolling sample), give the NDP the narrow edge in the seat count with 126 to 120 for the Tories.

But the likely seat ranges (112 to 139 for the NDP and 104 to 144 for the Conservatives) overlap a great deal. If an election were held tomorrow, it is still a coin flip as to which party would come out on top.

But the Ipsos Reid poll added further weight to some regional trends that have been developing. The Bloc Québécois seems to be coming down from a brief surge they experienced following the return of Gilles Duceppe as leader. The party has scored under 20 per cent in Quebec in six consecutive surveys, and has slid from a recent high of 22 per cent in mid-July to around 17 per cent today. The NDP seems to have benefited most from the drop, and the Bloc is now in serious danger of being shut out entirely.

The Conservatives have taken a dive in Atlantic Canada, registering under 20 per cent support in four consecutive polls and slipping five points in the average since the end of July.

Debate could boost Trudeau, May

The Ipsos poll included some questions concerning last Thursday's leaders' debate. It found that just under one-third of those polled had watched the debate. Among them, the decision was split between Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair on who had won (26 per cent for the Liberal leader and 25 per cent for the NDP leader). Stephen Harper and Elizabeth May were further behind with 21 and 20 per cent, respectively.

The sample size was relatively small (546 respondents who had watched), so some caution should be exercised before drawing any definitive conclusions — though other polls, conducted in British Columbia and the Greater Toronto Area, have also pointed to winning debate numbers for Trudeau. But even a tie for Trudeau is positive news for the Liberals, considering Trudeau trails Mulcair in approval ratings and is running third behind both Mulcair and Harper on who would make the best prime minister. Trudeau's performance may have contributed to the increase (though it was just inside the margin of error for a probabilistic sample of this size) the Liberals experienced since Ipsos's previous survey at the end of July. 

That Green Party leader Elizabeth May was scoring almost as well as the leaders of the bigger parties also bodes well for her party's chances going forward. In both cases, however, more data is needed before it will be possible to assess the real impact of the debate.

CBC's Poll Tracker aggregates all publicly released polls, weighing them by sample size, date and the polling firm's accuracy record. Upper and lower ranges are based on how polls have performed in other recent elections. The seat projection model makes individual projections for all ridings in the country, based on regional shifts in support since the 2011 election and taking into account other factors such as incumbency. The projections are subject to the margins of error of the opinion polls included in the model, as well as the unpredictable nature of politics at the riding level. The polls included in the model vary in size, date and method, and have not been individually verified by the CBC. You can read the full methodology here.

The questions asked in the polls mentioned in this article were as follows:

Ipsos Reid: "Thinking of how you feel right now, if a FEDERAL election were held tomorrow, which of the following parties' candidates would you, yourself, be most likely to support?", and "Did you watch the leaders' debate the evening of Aug. 6th hosted by Macleans?", and "In your opinion, who won the debate?"

About the Author

Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.


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