April 28, 2011 / 11:47 AM / in 7 years

New Democrats close in on Conservatives

TORONTO (Reuters) - The lead for the ruling Conservative Party is weakening heading into the May 2 election, while momentum is favoring the left-leaning New Democrats, according to a poll released on Thursday.

<p>New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton waves to supporters during a campaign stop in Toronto April 26, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>

The Nanos Research tracking poll of results for three days of surveys put support for the Conservatives at 36.6 percent, down slightly from 37.8 percent in Wednesday’s poll.

The NDP had 30.4 percent of decided voters behind them, up from 27.8 percent in Wednesday’s survey.

The unexpected surge for the upstart party could split the center-left vote and hand the ruling Conservatives a majority in the May 2 election. Or it could give the NDP a chance of forming its first government, in coalition with the once-mighty but now trailing Liberals.

The Nanos poll showed Liberal support continues to falter, slipping to 21.9 percent, from 22.9 percent in Wednesday’s poll.

Nanos said the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which runs candidates only in Quebec, was up slightly to 6.0 percent, from 5.8 percent in Wednesday’s poll. However, NDP support in Quebec has soared to 42.5 percent, with the Bloc Quebecois at 25.1 percent.

Under Canada’s electoral system, a party traditionally has needed to win about 40 percent of the national vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

The national daily Nanos tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling telephone sample of 1,200 decided voters and are considered accurate within 2.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Eric Beech

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