Today's Nanos poll shows small increases for the NDP across the board except, ironically, in Québec. Not much of note otherwise, although the 12.3% Tory national lead is the highest measured by Nanos since April 1-3.
More interestingly, two polls put the NDP ahead of the Bloc in Québec! A CROP survey has the NDP at 36%, five ahead of the Bloc. The Tories aren't doing too well either at 17%, while the Liberals get a disastrous 13%. Meanwhile, an EKOS poll is kinder to the Liberals (20.6%), but shockingly bad for the Bloc (23.7%), which trails the NDP by 7.4%.
Moreover, ThreeHundredEight.com reported yesterday on two riding polls in Northwest Québec. Abitibi--Baie-James--Nunavik--Eeyou, where the NDP was a distant fourth in 2008 but is running a popular candidate this time, is a four-way race. On the other hand, Abitibi--Témiscamingue is safe for the Bloc. These surveys were conducted from April 14-17, i.e. when contemporaneous polls still had the NDP in the low 20s. The interesting thing is that in Abitibi--Témiscamingue, the NDP rise and Bloc fall since 2008 were almost exactly equal to the province-wide variations.
What this means is that the NDP progress has been fairly uniform throughout Québec. It was probably a few points less around Quebec City, given the CROP polls in the area, and one would assume slightly more around Montréal. The CROP poll has the NDP at a whopping 40% there - but that's just 4% more than province-wide, which is actually the same pattern as in 2008. Of course, the Montréal area is almost half the province, so riding polls there would be useful in determining whether the NDP made concentrated gains in central Montréal, which would hurt the Liberals, or whether its progress was uniform throughout the metro area, which would really hurt the Bloc.
My polling average still puts the NDP a few points behind the Bloc: 24% to 32%. As a result, the NDP only gains one Québec seat in the aggregate projection (Jeanne--Le Ber), although they also pick up St. John's South--Mount Pearl, a tight three-way race. The Liberals benefit from the Bloc weakness and take a seat, though the NDP menace is now upon them in several other ridings:
CON - 149
LIB - 76
BQ - 44
NDP - 38
IND - 1
The average Conservative national lead is now 11.6%.
In two previous posts (here and here), I identified 11 seats where the NDP has a shot if it gets around 25% in Québec. (One might also add Drummond and Brome-Missisquoi to the list, though it's hard to tell what's going on in southeastern Québec.) But today's polls suggest that the Dippers may rise even higher, and end up with the most votes in La Belle Province.
If, as in today's surveys, the NDP manages to win Québec by 5-7%, it might take anywhere from 15 to 30 seats. The Bloc scored 25.9% higher than the NDP in 2008, and there are 33 ridings where the gap was 30-40%. So a 7% NDP lead would put us squarely in the range where almost half of Québec ridings would be tight NDP-Bloc races! This is fully consistent with the CROP poll, which shows the Bloc at 38% and the NDP at 34% among Francophone voters, which essentially include all voters outside Montréal and the Outaouais.
If the NDP manages to win Québec by 10%, it might take anywhere from 25 to 45 seats. In this scenario, Layton would be seriously challenging Ignatieff for the right to live in Stornoway! This is especially true if some voters in the rest of Canada are drawn to the NDP due to their strength in Québec. We could be in a scenario where voters in the downtown cores of Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver decide the identity of the Leader of the Opposition.
EKOS will hopefully release its numbers for the rest of the country later today, so stay tuned. The national results have the Tories and Greens down to 34.5% and 6.6% respectively. The Liberals are up slightly to 25.8%, but can't rejoice because they are now essentially tied with the NDP at 24.9%.