UPDATED: Strategic Counsel - The sun's gone dim, the moon's turned black ...

… for Ignatieff loved Quebec, and it didn’t love back*.

Or so says the latest Strategic Counsel poll for the Globe and Mail (and huge ITQudos to the Globe, by the way, for giving us all the background data), which pegs the spread between Team Red and Team Blue at five points.

Conservatives: 35 (+1)
Liberals: 30 (-2)
NDP: 14 (-1)
Bloc Quebecois: 12 (+2)
Greens: 9 (+1)

That works out to a three point jump for the Conservatives — which, we’re told, is largely due to a nasty tumble for the Liberals in Quebec, where the party has shed a staggering seven points, from 30% in July and August to just 23% now. Which puts it more than twenty points behind the Bloc Quebecois at 49%, the highest that party has polled since 2004 — and, if Norm Spector is right, those numbers could become even bleaker if the Bloc’s long-awaited ad campaign hits its mark.

The NDP’s national numbers, meanwhile, may have slid by only one percent, but the party’s slump in Ontario — from 14% to just 11% — really should be keeping Jack Layton up at night.

(Yes, ITQ is well aware that, with the exception of the national results,  all of the numbers hmmed over in the preceding paragraphs are within the margin of error. Hush.)

Meanwhile, did y’all see that the government seems to be ready to reform the employment insurance system after all? Quick, New Democrats, grab that life preserver and cling to it like a barnacle! That is, if there’s anything in the promised package that goes beyond the Conservative campaign pledge to extend buy-in privileges to the self-employed.  This could be your last chance to stave off potential electoral disaster Make Parliament Work! That is, as long as an actual piece of legislation — one that we can see and touch and FEEL — hits the House before that first non-confidence motion. Otherwise, it might look a little desperate to offer up your party’s unwavering support before you’ve even had the chance to read it. Although that didn’t stop you from doing the opposite with the budget, come to think of it.

Okay, commenters, it’s your turn now! What does it all mean?

*Apologies, of course, to Mrs. Parker.

UPDATE: Yikes, I completely forgot to mention the following (blame it on the morning grogs): Does anyone else find it a little bit … discomfiting when a respected pollster comes out with something like, “The NDP support is close to what it was in the last election. It’s 14,” when even in your post-waking haze, you immediately think to yourself, wait, that’s not right — that’s not even even close to being right! The NDP got, what, 18 percent last time around, didn’t they?

Especially when he then goes on to suggest that the Liberals “need to decrease that number to 10”? Because as far as ITQ knows, even in their most wild electoral fantasies, most of the Liberals that she knows harbour no secret hope of pushing the NDP vote below, say, 12 percent under fairy-tale perfect conditions. If they can pick up two points from the Dips and another two from the Greens, that would be cause to break out the champagne.

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