On the eve of the first leaders' debate, a new poll is out showing the Liberals have opened up a five-point lead over the Parti Québécois.
The online poll conducted over the weekend by Ipsos-Reid for CTV Montreal shows Liberals in the lead with 37 per cent support, while the PQ are at 32 per cent, the CAQ is at 16, and Quebec Solidaire are at 10.
Among francophones, though, the PQ still lead with 38 per cent support, compared with 29 per cent for the Liberals and 18 per cent for the CAQ.
Ipsos-Reid notes that the arrival of Pierre Karl Péladeau in politics as a PQ candidate has been a game-changer, but not in the way the PQ hoped it would be. Fully 72 per cent of those polled now believe a vote for the PQ is a vote for a new referendum on independence — a referendum which just 18 percent say the PQ should hold during its next mandate if it wins power.
Even among PQ supporters, only a minority — 40 per cent — think the party should hold one.
51 percent of those polled would vote No in a third referendum, while only 30 per cent would vote Yes.
Incidentally, just 6 per cent of Quebecers would "leave Quebec" if there was a majority PQ government elected, while 19 per cent would consider it. 75 per cent would "definitely remain" in the province — though 33 percent believe the PQ's policies are "part of a deliberate strategy to antagonize minorities so they will leave the province."
Turnout is key
Ipsos-Reid also suggests the election will be won or lost based on which party is able to get their supporters out to the polls, and this poll shows the Liberals are best able to do that.
Among the 64 per cent of voters who told the pollster that "nothing short of an emergency could stop me from getting to the voting booth and casting my vote," the Liberals see their numbers grow three points from the overall figure to 40 per cent, the PQ are up one to 33 per cent, the CAQ lose two points to 14 per cent, and QS lose one to 9 per cent.
Good news for Philippe Couillard
And there's more good news for the Liberals, and particularly its leader, Philippe Couillard. The poll shows Couillard has an edge over Premier Pauline Marois on several personality questions: 29 per cent believe Couillard is the most trustworthy leader, while 24 per cent chose Marois, and CAQ leader François Legault and QS co-leader Françoise David are tied at 19 per cent.
Couillard also has an edge over Marois in terms of the leader who can best work with the federal government (48-21), someone whose values are closest to their own (29-24), someone who can best manage Quebec's economy (33-27), and someone who can get the job done (31-28)
Meanwhile, François Legault comes out on top in terms of the all-important question of who Quebecers would most want to share a beer with: 26 per cent chose Legault, followed by Couillard at 22 per cent, Françoise David at 19 per cent and Marois at 18 per cent.