It is interesting to see the NDP running so high in the polls. There is little doubt in my mind that some of this support will leak away as we near the election, primarily because many people are rightly afraid of the very idea of a Harper majority.
There are many possible reasons that pundits could give for any growing popularity in NDP support. Some may say it is purely an electoral phenomenon. And maybe this is true. We certainly need to see some increases in the size of the NPDs popular vote during a couple of elections before we can say that the NDP is a new force in Canadian politics. However, growing support in Quebec is a good sign for anyone who would like to see the NDP play a more significant role in the Canadian political landscape.
If the NDP results (in votes if not in seats) do begin to show a marked improvement, I believe this will be the result of three major factors. One is that many people are just fed up with the two primary parties and believe, rightly so, that any real change in politics is going to have to come from a new force on the scene. Despite all the abuses the Conservative Party have perpetrated in recent years, their primary political opponent has said almost nothing about political reform. From any normal observer's point of view it really looks like, despite all of their complaints about political abuses of the Conservatives, all the Liberals really want to do is get power so that they can once again enjoy the kind of unchecked power that the PMO affords. The second issue is that people are finally waking up to the fact that, despite what the Conservatives would have us believe, the NDP is hardly the radical socialist party that many people thought it was. And the third issue is that the LPC and the CPoC are, as a group, occupying all of the space from the centre to the right. Though the Liberals continue to pursue some policies that are soft-left-of-centre, they also hold certain policies that are so close to the Conservatives that there is little or nothing to distinguish them. In other words the NDP are the only real alternative at the moment to the two primary parties which operate more or less like an oligopoly.
In other words, despite all the talk of unifying the "left," the truth is that the LPC is over all closer to the Conservatives than they are to the NDP, at least on many of the issue that count for many people. This might change after the election and the Liberals feel compelled to look long and hard at their identity. But the fact is that for the past 15 years or so the Liberal Party has become a Party of Corporatism no less than the Conservative party. And if Harper were to gain a majority and not suddenly shift right with an effort to outlaw abortion, bring back the death penalty, and scrap the Canada Health Act, then the Liberals would have even more trouble distinguishing themselves fromt he Conservatives.
Of course, if Harper were to gain a majority and then actually make these ultra-right legislative changes, then you can disregard everything I have said here because the Conservatives would be utterly wiped out in the next election and the Liberals would once again own the political landscape. In these circumstances, the NDP would once again shrink away to the 12-15% area.