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Why tonight’s debate might really matter

Despite a sense that voters aren’t paying close attention to the election campaign so far, tonight’s debate has the potential to be a game changer, according to the latest CTV News/Globe/Nanos Poll.

When asked “Which of the following factors are most important to you today in influencing your vote?” 52.6 per cent of respondents identified “party policies.”

That was far and away the most cited influence. Other influences: Traditionally Vote for Party 8.0% Party Leader 22.5% Local Candidate 13.4% Unsure 3.4% (-0.6)

So it stands to reason that tonight a significant advantage can be gained by whichever candidate can most clearly and compellingly articulate policies to which voters resonate.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who was excluded from the debate by the broadcasters, will be commenting on the debate live at the Vancouver Sun website.

The same poll showed small gains (but within the margin of error) by the Liberals and NDP against the Conservatives. Here’s how committed voters ranked their top preferences: Conservative 39.7% (-1.5) Liberal 31.2% (+0.8) NDP 16.8% (+1.6) Bloc Quebecois 7.8% (NC) Green 4.0% (-0.6) Undecided 17.5% (-0.6)

Nanos Research, which conducted the poll, reports that more polling data to be released this afternoon will show “Some interesting movement has occurred on trust for one of the leaders -- likely related to the major news story yesterday on the AG,” referencing the leaked draft of a report critical of the Harper government’s G8 spending and transparency about it.

A national random telephone survey is conducted nightly by Nanos Research throughout the campaign. Each evening a new group of 400 eligible voters are interviewed. The daily tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling sample comprised of 1,200 interviews. To update the tracking a new day of interviewing is added and the oldest day dropped. The margin of error for a survey of 1,200 respondents is ±2.8%, 19 times out of 20.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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