Justin Trudeau's Liberals lose lead to Tories for 1st time in 2 years

The New Democrats are eating into the Liberals' support, as Justin Trudeau's party narrowly falls to second place behind the Conservatives. Polls analyst Éric Grenier looks at the latest poll averages.

After two years of leading the polls, the Liberals now find themselves - narrowly - in second place

Liberals fall behind Tories for first time under Trudeau

8 years ago
Duration 5:39
Where are the Liberals losing support? And which party stands to gain from a Liberal slip in the polls? Poll analyst Eric Grenier breaks down the numbers.

For the first time since Justin Trudeau took over the party two years ago, the Liberals have lost the lead in national voting intentions. 

While that has placed the Conservatives in top spot, it is the New Democrats who have benefited from the Liberals' slip.

ThreeHundredEight.com's latest poll averages put the Conservatives narrowly ahead with 32 per cent support. The Liberals trail with 31 per cent, while Thomas Mulcair's NDP is in third with 22 per cent.

The Greens stand at an average of 7 per cent support in the polls, with the Bloc Québécois at 5 per cent.

Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader two years ago this week. And for the first time since then, his party is now polling in second place. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have swapped positions with the Liberals almost by default, as the party has been consistently polling at between 32 and 33 per cent since early December and the Liberals have slipped.

Trudeau's party was polling at between 33 and 34 per cent for the first three months of the year, but has been dropping over the last three weeks.

This is taking place as the New Democrats put together their most positive string of polls in more than a year. That was the last time the NDP managed at least 23 to 25 per cent support in four consecutive polls, the same streak they are currently riding.

With these levels of support, the Conservatives would likely win between 120 and 161 seats. That puts them short of the 170 needed to form a majority government. The Liberals would take between 98 and 136 seats, while the New Democrats could win between 61 and 88 seats.

The Greens would likely take two seats, with one to nine seats going to the Bloc Québécois.

NDP gains come in Ontario, B.C.

Liberals votes appear to be trickling to the New Democrats in the areas the party can least afford. In Ontario, where the Conservatives are holding steady with 37 per cent, the Liberals have dropped four points in two months to 35 per cent. The NDP, meanwhile, has picked up three points, sitting at 19 per cent.

With those numbers, the Conservatives could take 49 to 65 seats, with the Liberals winning 40 to 57 and the NDP pocketing 14 to 17.

The NDP is also taking support away from the Liberals in another battleground province. The Liberals and Conservatives are tied with 29 per cent apiece in British Columbia, but that represents a drop of five points over the past two months for the Liberals. The NDP has increased its share by five points to 27 per cent.

The Greens, at 13 per cent, continue to post their best numbers in the country here.

And in Atlantic Canada, the only region in Canada where the Liberals hold a definitive lead, Trudeau's support is starting to falter. From 53 per cent at the beginning of the year, the Liberals have dropped to 46 per cent. Marginal gains have been made by the Tories, NDP and Greens in the region.

Voting intentions are holding steady in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where the Conservatives lead with 42 per cent. The Liberals trail with 30 per cent and the NDP with 20 per cent.

Liberals, NDP stagnant in Quebec

The New Democrats have not replicated their gains in Quebec, however. The Liberals and NDP are tied at 27 per cent support in the province. By comparison, the Liberals were at 34 per cent and the NDP at 32 per cent in October.

Both the Conservatives, up six points since then to 20 per cent, and the Bloc Québécois, up four points to 19 per cent, have been the beneficiaries. But the Liberals and NDP are still on track to take the bulk of the province's seats: 29 to 45 for the NDP and 19 to 25 for the Liberals.

The Tories could triple their current representation in Quebec, with between 13 and 18 seats. The recent candidacies for the Conservatives of Gérard Deltell, former ADQ leader, and Alain Rayes, the popular mayor of Victoriaville, should help in that regard.

Provincial spill-over in Alberta?

The most unexpected development in federal polling has been the steep drop of support for the Conservatives in Alberta. As Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives find themselves in a three-way race, the federal Tories have dropped nine points in the last two months in Stephen Harper's own backyard.

The Conservatives still dominate the province with 46 per cent, but if that number holds on election day it would be the party's worst performance in Alberta since 1963.

The Liberals, at 25 per cent, are holding steady. But the federal NDP has replicated some of the provincial NDP's gains in Alberta, increasing its support by seven points in the last two months. They now stand at 19 per cent, and could conceivably be in the running for two to three seats. The Liberals could win four to seven, with the Tories taking the remaining 23 to 28.

ThreeHundredEight.com's vote and seat projection model 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.


  • This story has been updated from an earlier version to correct the spelling of Victoriaville Mayor Alain Rayes's name.
    Apr 15, 2015 12:37 PM ET


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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