Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 11, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE
OTTAWA - The governing Conservatives remain Canada's most-preferred federal party, though their popularity has dropped to a two-year low, according to a new poll done exclusively for Sun News Network.
The poll by Abacus Data also finds that both the federal NDP and the federal Liberals are finishing the year with slightly more support than the beginning of the year.
Abacus CEO David Coletto said the combination of a soon-to-be-chosen new federal Liberal leader with what Coletto called "underwhelming impressions" Canadians have of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and continued negative ratings for Prime Minister Stephen Harper point to a new year of political uncertainty.
"The candidacy of someone like Justin Trudeau for Liberal leader could fundamentally alter the political landscape as a volatile and uneasy electorate looks for a candidate and a party that offers it something different," said Coletto. "Justin may not save the Liberal Party but the political conditions are so that the enthusiasm and dynamism he would bring to Canadian politics could have a profound impact on voting intention and political attitudes in 2013."
The poll also shows sharp regional differences. The Conservatives are strong in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario; the New Democrats dominate in BC and Quebec; and the Liberals lead in Atlantic Canada.
Overall though, Abacus found 34% of those surveyed support the Conservatives. That's down two percentage points since Abacus' last survey in November and is down from 40% a year ago.
The Conservatives have not been that low in the polls since November 2010, when 33% of voters were on their side.
Mulcair's New Democrats finish the year at 32% while the Liberals are at 22%, a year-over-year improvement of one point for the NDP and 4 points for the Liberals.
Abacus surveyed 1,505 Canadians between Dec. 7 and 8 using an online survey. The poll participants were chosen at random from a database of 150,000 volunteers. The pollster weighted the survey sample by age, gender, region and education level according to the most recent census data. The pollster's method is widely used and, according to the industry association of which the pollster is a member, is believed to be capable of producing accurate results.
Abacus also found Canadians some sharp divides among political preferences by age. The NDP, for example, has a 24-point lead over the Liberals and Conservatives among Canadians under 30. But the Conservatives have 21-point lead over the NDP and Liberals among voters aged 60 or older.
The Conservatives and New Democrats are competitive when it comes to voters between 30 and 59.
In Quebec, the NDP has jumped back into first place as the preferred choice of 39% of voters there. The Bloc Quebecois saw its support drop six points in the last month down to 25%. The Conservatives and Liberals are essentially tied in Quebec at 17% and 16% support.
The NDP is also number one in B.C. with 43% support followed by the Conservatives with 31% and the Liberals with 14%. BC also has the highest Green Party support at 11%.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, are doing best in Alberta where they are the pick of 63% of those surveyed.
Conservatives also lead in Ontario with 38% support followed by the NDP at 29% and the Liberals at 27%.
The Liberals are the leading party in Atlantic Canada where they have the support of 45% of voters compared to 30% for the Conservatives and 24% for the NDP.