The Conservatives picked up 0.4 points and averaged 32.4%, maintaining their highest levels of support since February 2013.
The New Democrats, however, dropped 1.4 points to 20.3%, their lowest level since March 2011.
The Greens were up 0.2 points to 6.2% (the party has been at 6% for three consecutive months now), while the Bloc Québécois was at 4.3%. Another 2% of Canadians said they would vote for another party.
Considering that the biggest shift was worth only 1.4 points, December appears to have been a month of stability. But the aggregate masks the underlying numbers. In November, the Liberals were polled at between 34% and 36%, the Conservatives between 30% and 33%, and the NDP between 18% and 24%. Apart from the wider range for the New Democrats, this is a group of polls all saying the same thing.
December, however, has been much more volatile, with the Liberals between 32% and 41%, the Conservatives between 31% and 34%, and the NDP between 17% and 24%. The Conservative range was still tight, but the NDP's range grew a little and the Liberal range grew a lot, pointing towards anything from a big lead to a second-place finish. We should keep this in mind: while the aggregate suggests a stable trend line, the individual polls published in December are far less clear.
|Click for full-sized version|
In Alberta, the Conservatives dropped 3.2 points but still led with 54.3%. The Liberals halted four months of decline with a gain of 2.3 points to hit 23.2%. The NDP was up 0.3 points to 14.4%, while the Greens were down 0.6 points to 4.8%.
The Conservatives were also in front in the Prairies, picking up 3.4 points to lead with 42.7%. That is their best showing since June. The Liberals had their best result since November 2013, picking up 1.6 points to reach 33.8%. The NDP, however, was down 3.1 points to just 16.4%, their lowest result in Saskatchewan and Manitoba since February 2009. The Greens were down 3.1 points to 4.8%.
January 2013 and the third consecutive month of increase for the party. The NDP was down 2.9 points to 16%, their worst since February 2011, while the Greens were up 1.2 points to 6.5%.
In Quebec, the Liberals were up 0.1 point to 32.3%, while the NDP was down 0.7 points to 29%. The Bloc Québécois picked up one point and averaged 17.9%, its best result since July. The Conservatives were down 0.7 points to 15.6%, while the Greens were down 0.1 point to 4%.
In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals were up 1.6 points to 54%, their best result since May, while the Conservatives were down 1.9 points to 22.4%. The NDP fell 2.3 points to 16.8% in the region, their lowest level of support since before 2009. The Greens were up 1.1 points to 5%.
Since November, this represents a gain of six seats for the Conservatives, two for the Liberals, and one for the Bloc, with the NDP dropping nine.
The Conservatives picked up nine seats in Ontario and one in the Prairies, but dropped one in both Alberta and Atlantic Canada and two in British Columbia.
The Liberals gained two seats in Quebec and one each in the north, Alberta, and Atlantic Canada, but dropped three in Ontario.
The NDP dropped six seats in Ontario, three in Quebec, and one in the Prairies, but gained two in British Columbia.
So it remains a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, all the more so in the context of who would come out ahead in the seat count. But it was a bad month for the New Democrats, who were below 17% in every region except Quebec and British Columbia.
Normally, one would expect lower NDP numbers to benefit the Liberals, but it hasn't worked out that way (the Liberals' widest lead in 2014 came when the NDP was at 22%, in 2013 it was when the party was at 23%). Perhaps the Liberals are picking up a lot of support from the NDP that is making up for the voters they have lost to the Conservatives, or perhaps some New Democrats are moving over to the Tories. No matter what is going on, it appears that low NDP numbers are not necessarily a boon to the Liberals.