Conservatives keep narrow poll lead

Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's governing Conservatives are slightly ahead in public opinion over the main opposition Liberals, but would have no clear chance of victory if an election were held now, according to a weekly poll released on Thursday.

The Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. put the Conservatives at 32.7 percent support, down from 34.9 percent last week. The Liberals were at 31.0 percent, down from 31.9 percent.

Neither party is close to hitting the 36.5 percent support mark that would give it a fighting chance of forming a minority government. The poll indicates the result of an election held now would be a deadlock, with the Conservatives or Liberals having to turn to a smaller opposition party for support.

"If our vote intention tracking chart was a national cardiogram, it might be time to pull the plug," Ekos President Frank Graves said in a statement.

The Liberals say they might present a motion of non-confidence in the minority Conservative government when Parliament returns in late September but the poll shows they would most likely lose any subsequent vote.

Ekos said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff had an approval rating of only 29 percent compared with 36 percent for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Conservatives won a strengthened minority in last October's election but lost support as the economic crisis hit and the Liberals accused them of not doing enough to help people who had lost their jobs.

The Ekos automated telephone survey of 2,511 decided adult voters was conducted between August 4 and August 11 is considered accurate to within 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)