Conservatives jump ahead in poll

Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:09am EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives have widened lead over their nearest rivals and if an election were held now, they could be within reach of gaining a majority government, according to a poll published on Thursday.

The Ekos poll, conducted for the CBC, put the Conservatives at 37 percent, up from 35.1 percent a week ago.

Support for the Liberal Party, which says it wants to bring down the minority Conservative government, is at 29.9 percent, unchanged from a week earlier.

The two parties were in a dead heat in a poll by Ekos three weeks ago.

Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, it takes about 40 percent of the vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

In the 2008 election, the Conservatives took 37.6 percent of the vote and Liberals 26.2 percent.

The poll also looked the number of committed voters, and Conservatives supporters outnumbered the other parties in the "fully committed" segment by more than three to one.

The "significant advantage that (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper's Conservatives now have in public opinion may actually understate their potential strength in an election," Ekos President Frank Graves said in a release.

"If we restrict our analysis to the most committed portion of the electorate ... it suggests that it will be quite difficult to dislodge the Tories. Moreover, their aspiration for a majority may be tantalizingly close," he said.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at the Tim Hortons Innovation Centre in Oakville September 23, 2009. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>