With gains across the country, the PPC could be a 'potential spoiler' in the election: Nanos

Since the start of the federal election, the People’s Party of Canada has seen its support steadily increase across the country, leading pollster Nik Nanos to suggest that it could become a spoiler for the other parties.

According to a report conducted by Nanos Research for CTV News and the Globe and Mail, which was released on Wednesday, the PPC has been gaining ground throughout the country with dramatic surges in British Columbia and Ontario.

“The People’s Party has been gaining support compared to the beginning of the campaign,” Nanos said during Wednesday’s edition of CTV’s Trend Line podcast. “They’re not challenging to win a whole bunch of ridings, but they could be a potential spoiler.”

There is one riding in particular, however, where Nanos said the party might stand a chance of winning: PPC Leader Maxime Bernier’s own riding of Beauce, Que. The former Conservative had held the rural riding since 2006 before losing his seat in the 2019 federal election when he campaigned under the PPC banner.

“The one seat that they probably have the greatest chance to win would be Maxime Bernier’s seat in Beauce,” Nanos said. “Beyond that, their support is kind of spread out across the country, but Beauce will be the riding to watch to see whether Maxime Bernier will have a comeback.”

To achieve this, Bernier and his party’s 311 candidates have been campaigning to lure disenchanted Tory supporters and others to the PPC for a “purple wave” on Sept. 20.

The momentum appears to be in the party’s favour, according to Nanos’ polling data, which showed their national support was below 2 per cent when the writ was issued on Aug. 15. Fast-forward to the latest nightly tracking data, released on Wednesday, and the PPC is now enjoying 6.8 per cent support nationally.

The PPC’s swelling share of support has been enough to attract the attention of journalists who asked Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole if he was concerned about Bernier’s party splitting the vote among right-leaning voters during a recent campaign stop in the Greater Toronto Area. The Conservative leader evaded the question.

According to Nanos and other political pundits, Bernier and the PPC’s increasing popularity can be largely attributed to their vocal stance against government-imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates and passports.

Political strategist Shakir Chambers, who helped Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives win the 2018 provincial election in Ontario, said that the PPC has tapped into an anger about this topic among Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike.

“They occupy such a unique space in this election,” Chambers recently told The Canadian Press.

“They’re saying we should have a conversation about these things, no other party’s saying that you can even converse about whether this should be mandatory or not.”

Although the PPC appears to be attracting support across the country, there are some regions where the gains have been particularly noticeable.

Nanos Research broke down the regional divides in party support across the country in its special report by comparing a five-day period at the beginning of the campaign (Aug. 18 – 22) to a five-day period after the official leaders’ debates (Sept. 10 – 14).

Here are the regional findings.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

According to Nanos, B.C. is shaping up to be a tight three-way race between the Conservatives, NDP, and Liberals, with the PPC registering the greatest increase in support among the parties from the start of the campaign.

“I’m going to probably sound like I'm repeating myself when we talk about the People's Party and a lot of other parts of the country, because we're seeing that trend in a lot of other places too,” Nanos said.

The Green party, on the other hand, hasn’t enjoyed the same trajectory this election. Nanos said the party has enjoyed support as high as 15 per cent in B.C. in past elections, but this time around it only has 8 per cent.

“[It’s] probably a bit of a disappointment compared to historically some of the ups that they've realized in that province,” he said.

Party support for Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 10-14:

  • Conservatives 35 per cent to 30 per cent;
  • NDP 30 per cent to 26 per cent;
  • Liberals 27 per cent to 28 per cent;
  • Green Party 7 per cent to 8 per cent; and
  • People’s Party of Canada 1 per cent to 8 per cent

PRAIRIES

The Prairies remain a stronghold for the Conservatives, according to Nanos, who said the party has retained the same support it had at the start of the campaign when you factor in the polling’s margin of error.

“Prairies remain a lock for the blue team,” Nanos said. “I don't think there’s going to be a big difference in the in the Prairie provinces because the Conservatives still have a commanding lead when it comes to ballot support.”

Party support for Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 10-14:

  • Conservatives 51 per cent to 49 per cent;
  • Liberals 23 per cent to 17 per cent;
  • NDP 16 per cent to 23 per cent;
  • People’s Party of Canada 5 per cent to 8 per cent; and
  • Green Party 4 per cent to 2 per cent

ONTARIO

Looking at the entire province of Ontario, Nanos said the Liberals have maintained their lead over the Conservatives and have even managed to open up a wider gap since the start of the campaign. He also noted that the Greater Toronto Area remains a Liberal stronghold, according to the data.

“Not a big surprise, in fortress GTA the Liberals still have a pretty strong lead. They'll probably do very well in the GTA,” he said.

Notably, the PPC has made some headway in the province, Nanos said, with an increase from 1 per cent to 7 per cent support from the start of the election.

Party support for Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 10-14:

  • Liberals 42 per cent to 40 per cent;
  • Conservatives 35 per cent to 30 per cent;
  • NDP 18 per cent to 20 per cent;
  • People’s Party of Canada 1 per cent to 7 per cent; and
  • Green Party 3 per cent to 3 per cent

GTA

Party support for Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 10-14:

  • Liberals 44 per cent to 47 per cent;
  • Conservatives 34 per cent to 27 per cent;
  • NDP 18 per cent to 18 per cent;
  • People’s Party of Canada 1 per cent to 6 per cent; and
  • Green Party 3 per cent to 1 per cent

QUEBEC

While support for the Liberals looked pretty strong at the start of the campaign, Nanos pointed out that the Bloc Quebecois has narrowed that gap and it’s looking like a closer race now than it was before.

“That margin is now only four percentage points compared to a 10-point advantage that the Liberals had at the beginning of the campaign,” he said.

Otherwise, Nanos said there aren’t many other surprises in the province with the island of Montreal remaining a Liberal stronghold. He also noted that there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in support for the PPC in Quebec as there has been in other provinces.

“So a little bit of a factor, but not as dramatic as in some other parts of the country,” he said.

Party support for Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 10-14:

  • Liberals 35 per cent to 32 per cent;
  • Bloc Quebecois 25 per cent to 28 per cent;
  • NDP 19 per cent to 15 per cent;
  • Conservatives 16 per cent to 18 per cent
  • Green Party 4 per cent to 3 per cent; and
  • People’s Party of Canada 1 per cent to 4 per cent

ATLANTIC CANADA

Like Quebec, there were also few surprises in the Atlantic provinces where the Liberals have been maintaining their strong lead.

“Right now at least, the Liberals still have what would be considered a fairly comfortable nine-point lead, not as comfortable as the Prairies lead that the Conservatives have, but still pretty decent in the Atlantic provinces,” he said.

The PPC have also seen a small uptick in support in this region while the Green Party has seen its popularity fall, Nanos added.

Party support for Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 10-14:

  • Liberals 41 per cent to 41 per cent;
  • Conservatives 29 per cent to 32 per cent;
  • NDP 22 per cent to 20 per cent;
  • Green Party 7 per cent to 3 per cent; and
  • People’s Party of Canada 2 per cent to 5 per cent

METHODOLOGY

A national dual-frame (land+cell) random telephone survey is conducted nightly by Nanos Research throughout the campaign using live agents. This report is comprised of a comparison of two five-day periods of the election campaign, the first wave being between August 18th and 22nd and the second between September 10th to 14th, for voters in the province of British Columbia.

The margin of error for a survey of 221 and 300 respondents is ±6.7 percentage points and ±5.7 percentage points respectively, 19 times out of 20.

With files from The Canadian Press

CTVNews.ca election night sneak peek: For those looking for the map mentioned on the show, here's the link: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/federal-election-2019/results-map 

Please note that this version of the map currently shows the results from the 2019 election. You'll be able to see the map with updated numbers as they roll in on Sept. 20.