Liberals way, way ahead

intentions-de-votes1The latest La Presse-CROP poll shows the Liberals widening the chasm between them and the other parties:

Liberals: 45% (+3)

Parti Québécois: 32% (+1)

Action démocratique du Québec: 12% (-3)

It’s probably unfair to dwell on Mario Dumont’s ability to stink up the joint, but the last time the ADQ scored this poorly was in 1998, when it won just a single seat—Dumont’s in Rivière-du-Loup.

The race gets a lot tighter between the PQ and the Liberals among Francophone voters. The ADQ, on the other hand, remains out there in the wilderness, even though Francophones represent its core constituency:

Liberals: 36% (-)

Parti Québécois: 39% (+2)

Action démocratique du Québec: 14% (-2)

Of course, with Quebec’s electoral map being what it is, if Marois can build a sizeable lead among Francophones she just might prevent the Jean Charest from getting a majority. I bet Stephen Harper would get a sinister chuckle out of that.

Jean-Marc Léger (of Léger Marketing) told me last week he thinks tonight’s debate could ultimately set the tone for the rest of the campaign. Charest will be up against two wild cards: with nothing to lose, Dumont might go with a scorched earth, loose cannon approach that risks throwing the Liberal leader off his game; and, given her relative inexperience as party leader, no one knows quite how Marois’s going to perform or what effect she’ll have on the debate.

Either way, I’ll be live-blogging the proceedings; the festivities should get going around 8 this evening. Be square and be there.

[For the truly curious, all the juicy poll details are here.]