Nanos has the results of a leadership poll up on their site. It was taken between September 3 and September 11 and involved 1,002 Canadians.
When asked who would make the best Prime Minister, people said:
Stephen Harper - 36.9%
Michael Ignatieff - 23.9%
Jack Layton - 11.4%
Gilles Duceppe - 5.0%
Elizabeth May - 4.0%
That is a big spread between Harper and Ignatieff, and it really has only been created recently. Compared to the last Nanos poll in August, Harper has gained 7.4 points while Ignatieff has lost 2.3. Layton has also been hit hard, losing 3.8 points.
In British Columbia, Harper is the choice of 44.4% of respondents. Only 21.9% selected Ignatieff and a dismal 8.8% chose Layton.
In Ontario - and this is significant - Harper has jumped 6.6 points and stands at 36%. Ignatieff, who led Harper in the province in that previous poll, dropped 7.3 points and is the choice of 24.0% of Ontarians. Layton, at 8.5%, has also dropped.
In Quebec, Ignatieff has actually seen a gain of 4.6 points and is now the choice of 34.2%. Harper saw a small bump of 2.3 points, and is at 18.5%. Layton is at 18.8% while Duceppe is at 15.5%.
I've updated the "Best PM" track on the right. Ignatieff and Layton remain steady but Harper gains three points.
While Ignatieff seems to have been hit hard, Layton has seen the more uniform drop. Ignatieff is down big in Ontario and the Prairies, but he has gained some ground in British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. Layton is down in every region except Quebec, and there it was only by 0.4 points that he gained.
Ignatieff and Layton seem to be riding a tide of disfavour at the moment. While an election this fall is starting to seem unlikely, it could still happen. The wheels are in motion to put the EI reform bill through Parliament and even the Senate relatively quickly (according to Kady O'Malley) and it is possible that it will have become law before the Liberals put forward their motion of non-confidence.
So that gives the opposition about three weeks to rectify the souring of public opinion. To paraphrase the old adage, three weeks is an eternity in politics so we'll have to see where we stand in October.