OTTAWA (Reuters) - The left-leaning New Democrats are just five percentage points behind the ruling Conservatives ahead of Monday's general election, three polls released on Friday showed.
The narrow lead makes it unlikely the Conservatives will win the majority they seek in the House of Commons, though two of the pollsters said it was within reach, depending on turnout and how the Liberals and the New Democratic Party divide up the center-left vote.
"Voter turnout on election day will tell whether it will be a Tory minority or majority government," Ipsos Reid said in its commentary on the poll, conducted for Global National television and Postmedia News.
Ekos pollster Frank Graves puts the Conservatives at 34.5 percent and told CBC television that with just a point or two more, they might "back into a majority government" because of splitting the left-of-center vote.
Ekos had the NDP, which ran at a distant third at the start of the campaign, at 29.7 percent and the Liberals at an all-time low of 20.0 percent.
Ipsos Reid placed the Liberals even lower, at 18 percent, with the Conservatives at 38 percent and the NDP at 33 percent.
Nanos Research put support for the Conservatives at 36.4 percent, the NDP at 31.2 percent and the Liberals at 22.0 percent. It has the NDP, which had been the smallest of four parties in the House of Commons, continuing to trend higher in Ontario and British Columbia.
Ekos said the Conservatives retained a strong 12 point lead in Ontario, as the NDP splits left-wing votes with the Liberals in the province, which has more than one-third of the seats in the House of Commons, but Ipsos Reid has the Conservatives' Ontario lead only half as large.
Under Canada's electoral system, a party had usually needs about 40 percent of the national popular vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, but this is being recalculated now because of unprecedented patterns of support in the 2011 election.
All three polls covered the April 26-28 period.
The Ekos automated phone poll sampled 3,353 Canadians, including 3,066 decided voters. The margin of error for the total sample is 1.7 points, 19 times out of 20.
Ipsos called 1,710 Canadians, for a 2.4 point error margin. The Nanos telephone poll covered 1,021 committed voters, with a 3.1 point error margin.
Reporting by Claire Sibonney and Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson