Tories lose ground with women, increase hold on male voters

OTTAWA — It seems more and more that Conservative fans are from Mars and Liberal supporters are from Venus.

OTTAWA — It seems more and more that Conservative fans are from Mars and Liberal supporters are from Venus.

A new poll released Wednesday suggested the gender gap has increased between the two top federal parties.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey put Tory support at 36 per cent among men, compared with 26 per cent for the Liberals.

Among women, the Liberals led the Conservatives 34 per cent to 27 per cent.

The Conservatives had been ahead of the Liberals among women in several polls over the past year, but they lost ground this summer.

Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg said the poll is basically a return to normal for the Conservatives, who have always had trouble attracting women.

What is most striking, he said, is how the Liberals have lost support among men over the last year.

“What this says to the Conservatives is, look, you’ve got a problem with women, but it’s a problem you’ve had forever,” Gregg said.

“As long as you can maintain this advantage with men, you can continue to lead. Maybe not as much as you would like, but that’s a decided advantage.”

Gregg speculated that Conservative support for eliminating the long-gun registry and their reluctance to fund abortions overseas through the maternal health initiative might have alienated some women — particularly urban and suburban voters.

At the same time, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s low personal popularity numbers have likely hurt him with men. Men also tend to support those they think will attack deficits and keep the economy moving, Gregg says.

“You have to continue to keep that male advantage,” Gregg says of the Tories. “You have to position your opponent as a wimp and as an effete snob and out of touch with manly concerns.”

Among all voters nationally, the Conservatives held a small lead over the Liberals — 33 per cent to 30.

The NDP was at 16 per cent, with the Bloc Quebecois and the Greens both at 10 per cent.

The telephone poll of 2,019 adults was conducted Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, and has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The margin of error for the male and female numbers is 3.1 percentage points.

A Nanos Research poll published Wednesday had the Conservatives and the Liberals tied at 33 per cent support. The NDP had 16 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois 12 per cent and the Green Party six per cent.