The New Democratic Party and its leader Jagmeet Singh are making big gains in popular support and favourability in the final days of the campaign, a new poll suggests.
The latest telephone survey from Forum Research shows a significant boost in voting intentions for the NDP from a similar poll the firm conducted nine days earlier — a jump from 12 per cent to 20 per cent among decided voters.
At the same time, support for the Conservatives dropped from 35 per cent to 29 per cent, placing Andrew Scheer’s party in a virtual tie with the Liberals, who rose from 28 per cent to 30 per cent support in the latest poll.
The Green Party, meanwhile, was the choice of 8 per cent of the poll’s respondents, down from 12 per cent the last time Forum was in the field on Oct. 8.
Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said the numbers show the NDP is enjoying a late campaign “surge” as its popularity appears to be rising significantly from the early days of the federal election campaign.
“The other thing to look at are Singh’s approval ratings. They’ve just gone through the roof,” Bozinoff told the Star on Thursday.
“No one knew him like three weeks ago, right? And he’s handled himself so well in the media, just in terms of connecting with people and staying on top of things … and now he’s got a huge approval rating.”
Fifty-two per cent of respondents to this week’s poll said they approve of the job Singh is doing as NDP leader, up from 35 per cent in a similar survey on Oct. 2. That compares with 46 per cent approval for Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, 39 per cent for the Liberal’s Justin Trudeau, and 27 per cent for Scheer.
The Forum results also show Singh with the widest “net approval rating” — the difference in percentage points between those who approve and disapprove of his job performance — which sits at +25 in the most recent survey. That, too, is a major jump from Oct. 2, when his net approval rating was just +1.
Following Singh, May had an approval rating of +17, while Trudeau and Scheer were in negative territory, with more respondents disapproving than approving of their job performances. Trudeau’s rating in the latest poll was -14, while Scheer came in with -20.
When asked who would make the best prime minister, Trudeau was the top choice with 28 per cent of respondents choosing the Liberal leader. But, again, Forum points to a significant increase in this category for Singh, who was tied with the Conservative leader as the choice of best prime minister for 24 per cent of respondents. Singh was the choice of 13 per cent in the similar poll on Oct. 2.
May, meanwhile, was the best prime minister for 8 per cent of respondents, while 16 per cent said they don’t know.
The telephone survey of 1,028 randomly selected Canadian adults was conducted Thursday afternoon and evening. Forum says its results are considered accurate within a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
If the Forum numbers are reflected in Monday’s election results, Bozinoff said it is possible that the NDP could play kingmaker in a minority parliament. Since Singh has already ruled out supporting the Conservatives, that could ensure the Liberals form the next government even if they don’t win the most seats in the House of Commons.
But since the Conservative vote appears concentrated in the Prairies, Bozinoff said the Forum results would translate to put the Liberals on top.
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“The trends are clear. If the two main parties remain neck and neck, the lopsided vote in Alberta means the Liberal vote is more efficient and the Liberals will come out with more seats,” he said.
Elections Canada estimates 4.7 million people cast their ballots over four days of advance polling this month. The campaign is set to end Monday, when Canadians get their final chance to vote across 338 federal ridings.