'It's a coin toss': No clear frontrunner as election approaches halfway point, Nanos says
TORONTO -- As the federal election approaches the halfway point, there is still no clear frontrunner according to the latest national tracking numbers that show the Liberals and the Conservatives gripped in a “tight heat.”
Citing nightly tracking data commissioned by CTV News and The Globe and Mail, pollster Nik Nanos said the numbers show that no party currently has the upper hand at this time in the race.
“No one’s been able to break out on the ballot numbers and it’s a coin toss when we roll up the nation,” he told CTV’s Trend Line podcast on Friday.
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Based on tracking data collected between Sept. 24 and Sept. 26, Nanos Research showed support for the Liberals at 34.4 per cent, the Conservatives at 33.7 per cent, the NDP at 15 per cent.
The Greens, meanwhile, are at 10.5 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois at 4.4 per cent, and the People’s Party of Canada at 1.8 per cent.
The gender divide
While the daily tracking numbers for the Liberals and Conservatives haven’t distinguished an obvious frontrunner, what is clear is the divide in support for the two parties among men and women.
Nanos said the Conservatives have a 10-point advantage among men, while women consistently favour the Liberals, who have gained a 10-point advantage among that segment of the population.
“If only women were voting, Justin Trudeau would have a majority government,” Nanos explained. “If only men were voting, Andrew Scheer would have a majority government.”
Nanos said the numbers appear to show there is a “disconnect" between the parties and certain genders.
“Women and men are fundamentally looking at this election differently,” he said.
Preferred prime minister
When it comes to who should be the next prime minister come October, Nanos said those surveyed have given Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a slight edge over his closest competitor, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Although his numbers dropped slightly from the day before, Trudeau holds 33.1 per cent of support in contrast to Scheer’s 28.2 per cent.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ranked third for preferred prime minister with 10.2 per cent, followed by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at 8.4 per cent, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier at 2.2 per cent, and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet at 2 per cent. Those who marked they were “unsure” represented 16 per cent of the responses.
According to the numbers, Nanos said Trudeau appears to be slowly bouncing back from the hit he took after last week’s bombshell revelations that he had dressed up in blackface and brownface in the past.
“Justin Trudeau he does have an advantage,” Nanos said. “It’s not a big advantage and Andrew Scheer is still in the in the strike zone so to speak on the prime minister front.”
The 905 battleground
One of the most contentious regions up for grabs in the federal election is the 905 area code in the Greater Toronto Area. Nanos said the Liberals enjoyed significant support in the suburban stronghold in the first week of the campaign, but that advantage has dwindled, according to the tracking numbers, following Trudeau’s blackface and brownface scandal last week.
“This has to be quite worrisome for the Liberal Party and the Conservatives have to be buoyed up with this because it means the 905 is in play,” Nanos said. “It speaks to the deadlock that we're seeing nationally where neither of the parties can get the upper hand.”
The Greater Toronto Area is important for both parties because it’s home to 30 ridings, nearly as many as all of Alberta.
“If the 905 unwinds for the Liberals, that’ll be bad news for them,” Nanos said.
While it’s unclear if the blackface and brownface controversy alone is responsible for the dip in support for the Liberals, Nanos said it certainly played a role.
“We do know from just looking at the national trend that the blackface controversy for a short period of time did have a material negative impact on the Liberal campaign,” he said. “Whether this is sustained is uncertain at this point in time.”
As for the City of Toronto itself, Nanos described it as a Liberal “fortress” where the party continued to dominate in the second week of the campaign. For the rest of the province, Nanos said the numbers show it’s still a tight race between the two leading parties.
If there was an election held on Friday, Nanos said there would definitely be either a Liberal or Conservative minority government. He said the final result could be dependent on how many seats the “wildcard” Bloc Quebecois party picks up in Quebec, which he predicts could be anywhere from 10 to 20 seats.
The pollster said he thinks the NDP will lose seats and the Greens will gain some in October, which will have a profound effect on parliament’s final makeup.
“Right now, it's definitely minority government territory and watch out for those potential Bloc seats in Quebec,” Nanos said.
“It’s pretty clear that there's not a lot of enthusiasm right now for either the Conservatives or the Liberals and as a result there's no clear direction in terms of who Canadians would want to win this election.”
The Nightly Nanos Election Tracking is produced by Nanos Research, CTV News and the Globe and Mail. The data is based on dual frame (land + cell-lines) random telephone interviews using live agents of 1,200 Canadians using a three night rolling average of 400 respondents each evening, 18 years of age and over.
The random sample of 1,200 respondents may be weighted by age and gender using the latest census information for Canada. The interviews are compiled into a three night rolling average of 1,200 interviews, where each evening the oldest group of 400 interviews is dropped and a new group of 400 interviews is added.
A random telephone survey of 1,200 Canadians is accurate ±2.8 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.