OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives hold a five-point lead among voters in the October 14 election, according to a poll released on Thursday by Nanos Research, which had put the ruling party behind its main opponent in its last survey in late August.
Even so, the latest Nanos poll gives Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives a smaller lead over the Liberals than other recent surveys have indicated.
The poll pegged the Conservatives at 37 percent; the Liberals at 32 percent; the New Democrats at 13 percent; and the separatist Bloc Quebecois; and the Green Party at 9 percent each.
The previous Nanos poll, conducted August 20-27, had put the Liberals ahead 35 percent to 33 percent.
Until this month, pollsters had put the Conservatives neck and neck with the Liberals but a variety of surveys since then have put the Conservatives anywhere from eight to 18 points ahead.
Harper was elected to a minority government in January 2006 with 36 percent of the vote, against the Liberals' 30 percent. He had Parliament dissolved on September 7, for an October 14 election.
An automated phone poll by the Ekos firm, also released on Thursday, gave the Conservatives 37 percent and the Liberals 26 percent, but showed Conservative support slipping somewhat during the three-day polling period of Monday through Wednesday.
Ekos polled 3,260 decided voters for a margin of error of 1.7 points, 19 times out of 20.
Nanos interviewed 978 decided voters in the same period, a sample size that carries a 3.1-point margin of error.
The Nanos poll found Liberal leader Stephane Dion trailing not only Harper but also New Democratic leader Jack Layton on who would make the best prime minister. Thirty-eight percent picked Harper, 15 percent Layton and 14 percent Dion.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty