October 22, 2009 / 1:07 PM / 8 years ago

Tories just shy of majority support: polls

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two polls on Thursday put Canada’s governing Conservatives well ahead of their nearest opposition, but one showed their support slipping back from what they would need to form a majority government.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at a Canadian Chamber of Commerce conference on the economy in Toronto, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

The Ekos polling firm said the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were 11.2 percentage points ahead of the second-place Liberals in popular support. A week ago, it showed a 15-point advantage.

“In the first two weeks of this month, the Conservatives tipped into comfortable majority territory, but the scales are so delicately balanced that even a slight tightening of the race, as we have seen this week, edges them back to a place where a majority would be in doubt if an election were held today,” EKOS President Frank Graves said in a release.

He said it would take a few weeks to establish a pattern, but noted that the Conservatives, which won minority governments in the past two elections, have often popped “up into majority-government territory, only to be tugged back”.

The Liberals, which lost favor with voters by threatening to force an election, switched tactics last week, focusing along with the other opposition parties on accusing the Conservatives of playing partisan politics with stimulus spending money.

The Ekos poll had the Liberals at 27.1 percent, up from 25.5 percent a week ago. That put the two parties at roughly the same levels of support they had in the last election, in 2008.

Separately, a poll by Nanos gave the Conservatives a 10-point lead over the Liberals, representing the widest gap it has found between the two parties since the last election.

The Nanos poll gave the Conservatives 39.8 percent of the vote, with support for the Liberals at 30 percent.

It takes about 40 percent of the vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

A Nanos poll last month put the Conservatives at 37.5 percent, and the Liberals at 33.4 percent.

The results of the poll also indicated that the number of undecided voters, nationally, has dropped in the past month from 24.6 percent in early September, down to 17.5 percent.

Nanos surveyed 1,005 Canadian voters between October 10-18. It considers its results accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Ekos’s automated telephone poll surveyed 3,270 Canadians October 14-20, a sample size that should be accurate to within 1.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by Euan Rocha and John McCrank; editing by Peter Galloway

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