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December 7, 2010

By DAVID AKIN, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU CHIEF

OTTAWA — Two new polls out this week have put wind in Conservative sails leading to heightened speculation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, hopeful of winning a majority government, will try to find a way to end this Parliament and send Canadians to the polls in the spring.

On Tuesday, Abacus Data Inc., a new Ottawa-based polling firm, said the Conservatives enjoy the support of 35% of Canadians. The Liberals trail at 24% and the NDP are at 20%.

Abacus conducted an online survey of 1,361 Canadians between Dec. 3-6. The pollster says its results are accurate to within 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Abacus CEO David Coletto isn’t ready, though, to suggest the Conservatives are in majority territory because, according to his research, each party has regions of strength across the country.

“It is difficult to say whether these numbers translate into a majority government for the Conservative Party,” Coletto said in a statement. “Since the Liberals and NDP are stronger in different regions of the country, it will be difficult for the Conservatives to make enough gains to counter the BQ’s dominance in Quebec.”

On Monday, Nanos Research released a poll that showed the Conservatives leading at 38.1%, but with the Liberals doing much better compared to the NDP. Nanos had the Liberals at 31.2 % and the NDP at 17.2%.

Nanos conducted a telephone survey of 1,002 Canadians between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2. Nanos said its poll is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Nanos CEO Nik Nanos said his results indicate the Conservatives could form a majority government without a significant breakthrough in Quebec.

“The narrowcasting of issues suggests a new majority riding cluster strategy has emerged,” Nanos said in a statement. “In this paradigm, the Conservatives narrowcast messages to clusters of ridings on a diversity of issues such as crime, the long gun registry and social issues that align with their base and which divide the opposition. With a sweeping pan-Canadian mandate more difficult to attain, it would seem that the Conservatives are more focused on clusters of ridings and issues which divide the opposition to allow the Conservatives to divide the non-Harper universe.”

Good Decisions Require Good Data.