October 9, 2008 / 3:00 AM / in 9 years

Poll shows Conservatives gaining again

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, who have been hammered over the financial crisis, have regained a sizable lead in support before next Tuesday’s election, a new opinion poll showed.

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes the stage during a campaign rally in Hamilton, Ontario October 7, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Ekos survey, which included three days of polling through Wednesday, showed the Conservatives taking an 11-point lead over the Liberals, up from 9 points on Tuesday and 7 on Monday.

Two smaller surveys, in which polling ended a day earlier, put the Conservative lead over the Liberals at only 4 points.

“It is important to note that across the country, the Conservatives hold significant leads among many of the demographic groups most likely to vote, such as seniors, men and baby-boomers,” Ekos President Frank Grave said.

It has been a rocky few days for Harper, whose seemingly unassailable lead in the first four weeks of the campaign appeared to be slipping away as opponents called for him to do more to prevent economic damage caused by the global financial crisis.

Analysts will be watching to see if the growing lead is matched in Thursday’s release of polling data by the other two companies that track opinion daily, Harris-Decima and Nanos.

A Harris-Decima/Canadian Press survey from Saturday through Tuesday, and released earlier on Wednesday, put the Conservatives at 31 percent, unchanged from the poll the day before, and the Liberals up 1 point to 27 percent.

Nanos had the Conservatives at 33 percent and the Liberals at 29 percent. That was a marginal improvement for the Conservatives, who Nanos showed the day before leading only by 3 points, the smallest margin of the campaign.

All three pollsters put the leftist New Democratic Party at 20 percent.

Nanos said Harper maintained a comfortable advantage on who voters thought would make the best prime minister. He was picked by 33 percent, the New Democrats’ Jack Layton by 20 percent and Liberal Stephane Dion by 17 percent.

The Conservatives won a minority of seats in Parliament in the January 2006 election and most expect this year’s result to be another minority government.

Ekos surveyed 3,178 decided voters, with a 1.7-point margin of error 19 times out of 20. Harris-Decima interviewed 1,278 people with a 2.7-point margin of error, and Nanos surveyed 1,016 committed voters with a 3.1-point margin of error.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Cooney

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