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Quebec Liberals narrow the gap, but CAQ still has the inside track on fall election

Quebec Liberals narrow the gap, but CAQ still has the inside track on fall election
From CBC - April 17, 2018

Recent polls suggest Philippe Couillard's Liberals have pulled out of a dive in popular supportbut that does not mean the Coalition Avenir Qubec (CAQ) is no longer the favourite going into October's provincial election in Quebec.

Franois Legault's party still holds significant advantages over the Liberals and Jean-Franois Lisee's Parti Qubcois(PQ). But instead of a 'change' election that would sweep Couillard out of power and Legault into it, the landscape is shifting back toward a more competitive contest between the two parties.

Two polls published in the last week suggest that the margin between the CAQ and the Liberals has narrowed significantly. The surveys, conducted by Lger(Apr. 6-8)and Mainstreet Research (Apr. 7-9), put the CAQ at between 30 and 34 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 29 to 30 per cent, the PQ at 16 to 21 per cent and Qubec Solidaire at nine to 12 per cent.

Lger gives the CAQ a five-point edge. Mainstreet puts the CAQ and the Liberalsin a tie.

Both firms were in the field previouslyin the last week of February. The two polls point to similar trend lines, with the CAQ down three points in the Lger poll and two points in theMainstreetpoll. In both cases, the Liberals have benefited by those amounts.

Neither of those shifts is statistically significant, although the fact that the trend is repeated across two surveys conducted with different methodologies(Lgerdoes its polling online while Mainstreet uses automated telephone calls)suggests it could be pointing to something real.

Legault loses momentum

This is a change of fortunes for the CAQ, which seemed to have the wind in its sails earlier this year. Lger has now recorded a drop in the CAQ's support in two consecutive polls: the party was scoring 39 per cent at the end of January. Mainstreet did not record a spike for the CAQin recent months, and instead has had the party wobbling between 30and 32 per cent over the last four polls going back to December.

It all suggeststhe CAQmay have peaked too soon something it and its predecessor, the Action Dmocratique du Qubec, have done before.

This rebound only puts the Liberals back to where they were over the second half of 2017. That's still good news for Couillard, though. The two surveys putting the Liberals at 26 to 28 per cent a little over a month ago indicated that, had those negative trends continued, the party might have put itself out of contention entirely.

Nevertheless, at 29 to 30 per cent, the Liberals are in tough for re-electionand at these numberswould still see theirlowest vote share in their party's history if an election were held tomorrow.

CAQ still mostly in majority territory

Despite the CAQ'sdecrease in support, the party remains in majority territory. With support distributed regionally as it is in the two new surveys, the CAQlikely wouldwin between 56 and 81 seats, putting the party comfortably in range of getting the 63 seats needed for a majority government.

Liberal rebound, or new options for anglophones?

No CAQ steamrolleryet

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