Angus Reid presents ... the gift of understatement.

From the ITQ inbox, the most maniacal-giggle-inducing subject line of the day (so far):

Leadership Change Would Benefit Liberals in the Next Federal Election

Other than Ignatieff/Rae/Dion what-ifery, there are some other interesting numbers: 40% of respondents like the idea of a “pre-election coalition” between the NDP and the Liberals” to present a single slate of candidates across the country”, with 45% opposed and 15% not sure.

Full release after the jump. For some reason, it’s not yet available on the website, but as soon as it goes up, I’ll add a link.

Twenty-point lead for Conservatives drops to five points if Michael Ignatieff leads the Liberal Party instead of Stéphane Dion

While the Conservative Party holds a considerable advantage over the Liberal Party across Canada, the federal political scene would change dramatically if Michael Ignatieff becomes the new leader of the main opposition party, a new Toronto Star / Angus Reid poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 42 per cent of respondents say they would vote for the governing Tories in the next federal election, followed by the Liberals with 22 per cent, the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 18 per cent, the Bloc Québécois with 10 per cent, and the Green Party with seven per cent.

However, if the Liberals fight the next election with Ignatieff-the current deputy leader-at the helm, the Liberals garner the support of 33 per cent of respondents, five points behind the leading Conservatives (38%) and well ahead of the other opposition parties (NDP 13%, BQ 10%, Green 6%).

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae would not provide the same boost to Liberal fortunes. The Tories hold a 15-point advantage over the Grits (41% to 26%) if Rae is the leader of the Liberal Party, with the NDP at 15 per cent, and stable support for the Bloc (10%) and Greens (6%).

The survey shows that the Liberals would see significant gains in three provinces if Ignatieff serves as leader. In Ontario, Ignatieff makes the Liberals highly competitive, placing his party in a virtual tie with the Tories (40% to 38%). In Quebec, where the Stéphane Dion-led Liberals currently sit in third place with 20 per cent, Ignatieff would take Grit support to 33 per cent. In British Columbia, the Liberals go from a distant third at 17 per cent with Dion, to a strong second at 32 per cent under Ignatieff.

A pre-election coalition?
Respondents were asked to ponder a scenario in which the Liberals and the NDP formed a pre-election coalition that would present a single slate of candidates in the entire country, where Grits and New Democrats would not run against each other in the same riding.

Two-in-five Canadians (40%) like this idea, but 45 per cent are opposed. The highest level of support for this concept comes from respondents who voted for the Liberals (67%), the Bloc (67%) and the NDP (59%) in the last federal election, with Green supporters (36%) and Conservative voters (19%) clearly less enthused.

Effects of the Crisis
The past few weeks of political wrangling in Ottawa have taken a toll on the way Canadians relate to their political leaders. Three-in-five respondents (60%) say their opinion of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has worsened over the course of the past month, and more than half (54%) feel the same way about Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. NDP leader Jack Layton also posted a negative momentum score nationally (41% worsened, 17% improved).

When it comes to the performance of the political parties, respondents in Quebec are evenly divided in their assessment of the Bloc (40% approve, 40% disapprove) while a majority of Canadians express disappointment with the way the three main federal parties have handled their duties (Liberals 57%, Conservatives 55%, New Democrats 53%).

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