Quebec Liberals carry lead into final campaign weekend; movement of CAQ vote hurts PQ

Quebec Liberals carry lead into final campaign weekend; movement of CAQ vote hurts PQ

Updated April 7, 2014 – With final popular vote yet to be verified, popular vote percentage on Quebec election night stands at Liberal: 41%, PQ: 26%, CAQ: 24%, QS: 7%.

April 5, 2014 – The Quebec Liberals under leader Philippe Couillard head into the last days of that province’s election campaign with a comfortable lead over Premier Pauline Marois’ Parti Québécois, thanks in part to a shift in the CAQ vote.

A poll conducted by Angus Reid Global from April 2-4, 2014 indicates 39 per cent of likely voters in Quebec are backing the Liberals, compared to 27 per cent for the PQ and 25 per cent for the CAQ under François Legault. Québec Solidaire led by Françoise David earns the backing of seven per cent of likely voters.

Leader Momentum

The majority (56%) believe Quebec is on the wrong track, including most past Liberal and CAQ voters (69% and 75% respectively). Troublingly for the PQ: one-third (34%) of that party’s past voters also see the province on the wrong track. Across all voters Couillard is top choice for best premier (30%) followed by Legault (23%) and Marois (20%).

More bad news for Marois: while nine per cent of Quebecers say their opinion of the PQ leader has improved since the beginning of the election campaign, 50 per cent say it’s worsened. By comparison, 27 per cent of Quebec voters say their opinion of Couillard has improved since the writ dropped while one-third (34%) have dimmed their view of the Quebec Liberal leader. François Legault has fared best in this campaign – with 37 per cent thinking better of him in the last four weeks and 15 per cent thinking worse.

The CAQ Shift

Despite Legault’s positive personal momentum and the party’s stronger showing, it appears many Quebec voters who chose the CAQ in 2012 are still thinking more seriously about the Liberals and Couillard this time around.  Voter retention tells the story: the PQ is holding onto 74 per cent of its 2012 support. That compares to an 85 per cent retention rate for the Liberals. The CAQ holding 58 per cent of its 2012 supporters; with fully one-in-three (33%) drifting to the Liberals.

Key Campaign Issues

The arrival of PQ star candidate Pierre-Karl Peladeau on the campaign hustings was a game changer for Marois and her party – but not in the way the leader intended. While Pleadeau raised the spectre of Quebec separation, Quebecers had other issues on their minds. Half (51%) say the economy and jobs was the most important issue in the election. About as many (49%) said health care was foremost in their mind, followed by government spending/debt (29%). One quarter chose corruption. The same number chose the Charter of Values. Only 12 per cent of Quebecers identified a sovereignty debate/referendum as the most important campaign issue.

The Referendum and Sovereignty Scare 

Rather than being an ace in the hole for the PQ, the possibility of a referendum became the party’s greatest liability in this campaign, even among its own supporters. Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers (68%) say they are against a referendum in the next five years.

When asked if a referendum were held tomorrow, twice as many Quebecers say they’d vote against sovereignty than for it (59% to 28%).

Among Quebecers who say they will vote for the PQ on Monday, fewer than half (47%) believe a majority PQ win would give the party a mandate to hold a referendum if it felt conditions were right while a slim majority (53%) of likely PQ voters say the party hasn’t been clear enough with Quebecers on this subject. Supporters of other parties are much more adamant on this point.

There is considerable distrust on the question of whether the PQ has plans to proceed with a referendum if they are returned with a majority on Monday. Views are split on this intention, but those intending to support the Liberals or CAQ (who are strongly opposed to one) are convinced the PQ has referendum plans, especially if think the separatists could win it.

Finally, 58 per cent of Quebecers surveyed say if the PQ wins re-election and holds a referendum they “fear that the PQ would try to unfairly manipulate the referendum” versus 42 per cent who say they “trust the PQ to take a fair and balanced approach with a referendum”. There are predictable variations across party lines with massive distrust expressed by all but the PQ and the QS’s support base.

Elections Act Notes:

This survey was conducted online between April 2-4, 2014 and paid for by Angus Reid Global.  The sample size is 1410. A probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. Wording of the survey questions are found on the tables on the following pages.

Click here for detailed provincial results, charts, tables and methodology

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