October 6, 2008 / 3:03 AM / in 9 years

Polls show a tighter election race

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Two polls on Monday showed a tighter Canadian election race than earlier in the campaign, and point to the Conservative Party winning a minority government rather than the majority that seemed to be in the cards earlier.

<p>NDP Leader Jack Layton (L) takes part in the English leaders' debate with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (2nd L), Liberal Party Leader Stephane Dion (2nd R) and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (obscured) in Ottawa, October 2, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Tom Hanson/Pool</p>

The largest of the surveys, one taken Friday through Sunday by Ekos, suggests televised election debates on Wednesday and Thursday failed to shake the race up, with the Conservatives still 10 percentage points ahead of the Liberals.

However, a Harris-Decima/Canadian Press poll puts the Conservative lead at only 7 points -- down from 15 points just three days earlier.

And a Nanos poll has the gap at only 5 points -- one more than Nanos’s survey released on Sunday but just half what it had shown a week earlier.

All still see the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper being reelected on October 14, but they no longer see Harper being able to convert his minority in Parliament into a majority.

The Conservatives took power from the Liberals in February 2006.

The Harris-Decima/Canadian Press rolling poll put the Conservatives at 32 percent, down 2 points from the day before and down 5 points in the space of three days -- and 4 points less than what they got in the 2006 election.

It was still well ahead of the 25 percent Harris-Decima shows for the Liberals, and the 21 percent for the left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP).

Harris-Decima pollster Bruce Anderson said jitters about the economy were cutting into support for Harper, who has advocated a steady hand with no dramatic moves.

Nanos has the Conservatives at 34 percent, the Liberals at 29 percent -- just one point less than their result in the 2006 election -- and the NDP at 20 percent.

The Ekos poll released on Sunday night had the Conservatives at 35 percent, the Liberals at 25 percent and the NDP at 19 percent.

Ekos projects that the Conservatives would take 130 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, well short of the 155 needed for a majority but ahead of the 78 projected for the Liberals and 42 for the NDP. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, running only in Quebec, would take 58.

Ekos and Nanos covered Friday through Sunday, while Harris-Decima covered Thursday through Sunday.

Harris-Decima interviewed 1,235 people for a margin of error of 2.8 points 19 times out of 20. Ekos covered 2,318 decided voters, with a 2-point margin of error, and Nanos covered 1,027 committed voters, with a 3.1-point margin.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway

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