The last Ipsos poll earlier this year put NDP support at 38% with the Tories at 35%, and the Liberals at 18%. Today, apparently the Liberals are up to 26%, with the NDP down to 30% and the Tories are down to 34%.
Hmmmm....On the superficial surface, this would appear to be bad news for the NDP. However, one must admit the 38% number in June, if true at all, was simply due to the ongoing honeymoon for new leader Tom Mulcair and the ongoing absence of a viable Liberal option. No other polls put NDP support that high around that time, of course. I recall seeing mostly low 30s for the NDP then.
Secondly, I prefer to look at the actual voting results in 2011 and draw comparisons from that instead of polls. When we do this, we notice clearly that Tory support has fallen significantly from 40% down to 34%. NDP support is fairly steady, going from 31% to 30%. And Liberal support has gone up substantially from 19% to 26%.
So in truth, the Tories have lost the most support and the Liberals have been the beneficiaries. This poll would suggest that the reinvigorated Liberals are gaining mostly at the expense of the Tories. In truth, a rejuvenated Liberal Party is a direct threat to Tory support.
Let's not forget that it was the collapse of the Liberal vote in 2011 that benefited the Tories directly, especially in Ontario. Those votes didn't switch to the NDP and magically elect Tories. They moved directly from the Liberals to the Tories and gave Harper his majority. As we know, there are huge swaths of the electorate, especially in Ontario, who will freely switch between the Conservatives and the Liberals, but have shown little interest in considering the NDP. If the Liberals remain unviable, those votes will stay Conservative. But if the Liberals become viable again, after nine years of Tory rule, many will be tempted to switch back.
Now this poll indicates many of those votes lost in 2011 have returned to the Liberal fold. If that continues, Justin Trudeau will be anything but Stephen Harper's best friend. A drop of six points for the Tories with the NDP holding steady would likely produce a weak Tory minority government, with NDP making modest seat gains, and the Liberals gaining significantly as well (but still in third place.)
The most interesting aspect of the poll is that despite a rejuvenating Liberal Party, NDP support is holding steady at roughly what the party won last year. It does appear that continued NDP strength is not going away anytime soon, despite the spin.