Forum finds wild swing in voter intention after federal election debate, but pollster says wait and see

OTTAWA—A new Forum Research poll suggests a significant shift in voter intention after Monday’s English-language federal leaders’ debate.

The poll, conducted Monday night and Tuesday morning, puts Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives ahead with 35 per cent support among decided and leaning voters. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party trails at 28 per cent. Just last week, Forum put the Liberals ahead at 34 per cent to the Conservatives’ 31 per cent.

But only half of respondents to the Forum poll actually watched the leaders’ debate — meaning the shift is not likely due only to a hidden haymaker missed by political observers during Monday’s chaotic tussle.

But Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, cautions that numbers are often fluid in the immediate aftermath of a debate.

“I would wait for confirmation polling, as this is the day after (the debate),” Bozinoff said, in an interview Tuesday evening.

“Most campaigns are about a government’s record, and it really gets focused during the debate, during those couple hours. And I think we’re seeing it in these numbers.”

Despite a strong couple of weeks from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on the campaign trail — including a well-received performance in Monday’s leaders’ debate — the New Democrats (13 per cent) remain deadlocked with Elizabeth May’s Green party (12 per cent). Neither party has budged much from where they began their campaign.RELATED STORIES

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But the top-level national numbers are not as important in Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. Much more interesting are the regional breakdowns — and the implications for the number of seats the parties can pick up in a given province.

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Forum found the Liberals are still doing relatively well in the electorally all-important provinces of Ontario and Quebec (35 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively). Although over the past week, Liberal support in both provinces has declined based on Forum’s tracking numbers.

While regional breakdowns have a higher margin of error than the national numbers, the Conservatives appear to be nipping at the Liberals’ heels in Ontario, with 31 per cent support. In Quebec, a resurgent Bloc Québécois took the lead in Forum’s latest poll, with 28 per cent.

The Liberals still enjoy a comfortable lead in the Atlantic, with 32 per cent support compared to the Conservatives’ 24 per cent. But with the Greens (18 per cent) and the NDP (16 per cent) both polling well in the region, there is potential for a progressive vote split.

The Conservatives still maintain a stranglehold on voter intention in the Prairies and Alberta, based on Forum’s polling, while B.C. remains a complicated battleground that could end up deciding the election — Conservative or Liberal, majority or minority.

The Forum poll surveyed 1,013 voting-aged Canadians through an interactive telephone poll between the conclusion of Monday’s debate and Tuesday afternoon. The results are believed to be accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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