If an election were held today, the Conservatives would probably lose their majority in the House of Commons. But the New Democrats would not be much closer to replacing them.
Two polls released over the last few days by Ipsos-Reid and Harris-Decima show small shifts in support from the May 2 election, but not enough to completely overturn the results. A Conservative slip of between three and four points, however, puts them solidly in minority territory.
Neither the Liberals nor the New Democrats have benefited from this drop to any great extent. While the Liberals are up in both polls compared to their election results, neither has them far outside the margin of error. The same goes for the NDP, which is down at most two points since the election, or is standing still.
Fully two-thirds of Canadians think the New Democrats are doing a good job as the Official Opposition, likely explaining how they have managed to tread water without Jack Layton at the helm.
But the leaderless party could get some grief from Quebec, especially if they do not choose a bilingual person as leader. Virtually every single Quebecer thinks the NDP needs to choose a leader who speaks both official languages, and a majority of English Canadians feel the same way. Though the two front-runners, Brian Topp and (especially) Thomas Mulcair, are bilingual there are a few names in the NDP race that have less than passable French.
There is an opening in Quebec, particularly if the New Democrats choose a unilingual leader. Both polls show the New Democrats have slipped from 43 per cent on election day to between 36 and 38 per cent support. This might not be a huge decrease considering the margin of error of smaller regional samples, but the consistency across these two polls should be cause for concern for the NDP in Quebec.
That is because the Bloc Québécois is not quite dead yet. Though the Bloc is down three points to 20 per cent in the Harris-Decima poll, the party is up three points in the Ipsos-Reid survey to 26 per cent (again, because of the margin of error these results are not as contradictory as they may seem).
This is a higher level of support than other polls have found the Bloc to be at in recent months, suggesting that the party’s base of support has not fallen away.
The party is currently in the process of choosing its next leader, with a debate having already taken place in Quebec City and another scheduled for November 15 in Montreal. Daniel Paillé, former PQ cabinet minister and MP for the Bloc, is considered the front-runner. If he is chosen, one of the Bloc’s four MPs might step down to give him an opportunity to win a by-election and enter the House of Commons. With a newly minted leader, the Bloc may be able to eat into NDP support in the province.
But the New Democrats are not the only party facing an electoral challenge. Indeed, they appear to be causing the Conservatives trouble in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. And in Ontario, the Tories have dropped below the 40 per cent mark. The province handed the Conservatives a majority in May, but would take it away at these levels of support.
Of course, the next election will not take place for another four years. But voters are hard to win back once they are lost.