The weekly EKOS is out, and is disastrous for the Grits: they have lower support nationally than in the 2008 election. In this poll, the Conservatives take the lead in Atlantic Canada, pass the Liberals in Québec, more than double their lead in Ontario from last week's EKOS, while the NDP passes the Liberals in BC.
This polls also asks about party leaders' handling of their jobs. The following net approval ratings speak for themselves: Harper -3.6%, Ignatieff -31.6%, Layton +2.6%.
My first reaction when I saw this poll was that these numbers, if borne out, would result in a solid Conservative majority. Not so after crunching the numbers though! Even such a meltdown for Ignatieff would only put Harper on the cusp of what he's desired for so long: 154-155 seats.
Nevertheless, EKOS' large sample size, combined with the relative lack of recent polls (Harris-Decima and Nanos have been AWOL and receive no weight for now), means that this poll substantially moved the aggregate projection:
CON - 149
LIB - 77
BQ - 48
NDP - 34
For the first time, the Conservatives are projected to gain seats if an election took place in the past week. They are now very close to a majority. The Grits have retreated to their 2008 levels, while the Bloc and NDP post very modest losses.
The problem for Harper: much of his party's recent swell in the polls was probably a result of Ignatieff's (feigned) eagerness for an election. So if the Conservatives engineer their own defeat, a good chunk of this goodwill may instantly evaporate. Besides, many believe that Harper will be under pressure to leave if he delivers yet another minority - however strong it may be. So perhaps he's not exactly burning to roll the dice quite yet, since a majority is of course no sure thing.
The Liberals though, look less and less like a government-in-waiting by the day. Musing about gimmicks like high-speed rail and defending Suaad Hagi Mohamud are not valid substitutes for a platform. Actually, don't even mention platform - we now have absolutely no clue what the Grits stand for anymore, beyond the fact that they're not Harper and not socialists. Or are they? After all, Ignatieff seems to like the oil industry in Alberta, and the 360-hour EI threshold is so far to the left that the NDP didn't even bother coming up with a more lefty proposal.
Ironic that one of Canada's greatest intellectuals is now in danger of becoming a failed politician due to a lack of credible ideas. The silver-lining: these things can turn around very quickly, so Ignatieff still has time, especially since Québec is nowhere close to tipping to the Tories. If that happens though, the following storyline would write itself: "Canada has opted for a Conservative majority, and is just waiting to go to the polls." So Mr. Ignatieff - stop tempting fate, OK?