Ontario Election Campaign a Tight Horse Race

Ipsos Reid Poll

Ipsos Reid Poll

Last Poll Shows Tight Race

TORONTO – POLITICAL ANALYSIS – Depending on who, and where, the election will be decided. The race has tightened greatly according to the latest Ipsos Reid poll.

Ipsos Reid states, “The Ontario election will be determined by who shows up and where, and who stays home and where. A new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of CTV News and CP24 reveals that the election campaign will likely conclude with a photo finish”.

Liberal Leader and PC Leader Down in Support

When asked who they would vote for in an election (or who they voted for if they cast their ballot in an advanced poll), 33% of decided voters say they support Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals (down 2 points), while 31% support the Progressive Conservatives under Tim Hudak (down 4 points). Andrea Horwath and the NDP have gained momentum to receive 30% of the decided vote (up 4 points), while 5% say they would vote for some other party, including Mike Schreiner’s Green Party (up 1 point).

The 905 region of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) will be the primary battleground upon which the election will be fought.

Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has campaigned heavily in southern Ontario, and has not been north of North Bay during the election campaign.

Among decided voters:

  • In the 905 area of the GTA, the PCs (34%) and Liberals (33%) are tied, with the NDP (26%) not far behind, while other parties trail (7%). A few points either way in this region, due to galvanized or anemic turnout, could significantly impact the outcome of the election.
    In the 416 area of the GTA, the Liberals (41%) are ahead of the NDP (33%), the PCs (21%) and other parties (4%). The NDP could play spoiler in the 416 if it picks up enough seats from the Liberals.
  • In Southwestern Ontario, the NDP (39%) are showing a lead over the PCs (29%), Liberals (27%) and other parties (6%).
  • In Eastern Ontario, the PCs (38%) hold a solid lead over the Liberals (31%), NDP (28%) and others (3%).
  • In Central Ontario (based on a small sample size), the Liberals (41%) and PCs (39%) are front-runners, while the NDP (13%) and others (7%) trail.
  • In Northern Ontario, the results (based on a small sample size) show a three-way race with the Liberals at 33%, the NDP at 32%, and the PCs at 31% while others (4%) trail.

Thunder Bay Atikokan

Voter Turnout Key to Election Victory…

The outcome of a tight horse race will be determined by the party that can rally its supporters to get out and vote. The poll suggests that the Tories continue to have this advantage, as they have throughout the election campaign, although the margin is tightening. Among those who are most likely to vote, the Tories (36%, down 4 points) hold an edge in voter support over the Liberals (30%, down 2) and the NDP (30%, up 6), while other parties would receive 4% support (up 1 point).

Examining the regional vote by those most likely to vote:

  • In the 905, the PCs (43%) pull ahead of the Liberals (30%) and NDP (23%).
  • In the 416, the NDP (38%) are in a statistical tie with the Liberals (35%), while the Tories (24%) trail.
  • In Southwestern Ontario, the NDP (39%) are also ahead of the PCs (32%) and Liberals (25%).
  • In Eastern Ontario, the Tories (43%) do well against the Liberals (29%) and NDP (24%).
    In Central Ontario (based on a small sample size), the PCs (45%) pull ahead of the Liberals (35%) and NDP (17%).
  • In Northern Ontario, the results (based on a small sample size), the PCs (37%), Liberals (34%) and NDP (28%) remain competitive.

The Progressive Conservative vote also appears to be the most committed. Among those who indicate that they will support the PCs on Election Day, two in three (65%) are ‘absolutely certain’ that this is the party they will support and that they will not change their mind. Fewer NDP (49%) and Liberal (47%) voters are absolutely certain of their choice and only 39% of those voting for another party are committed to their choice.

Desire for Change Holding Steady…

Throughout the election campaign, the desire for change has been consistent. Two in three (68%, unchanged since early June) believe that it is ‘time for another provincial party to take over’ at Queen’s Park. In contrast, just one in three (32%, unchanged) Ontarians say that ‘the Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne has done a good job and deserves re-election’.

Six in ten (61%) Ontarians believe the province is headed in the wrong direction. This metric has remained relatively consistent throughout the campaign as well, down by only 3 points since the start of May. Conversely, only 39% believe Ontario is headed on the right track, improving by 3 points since the campaign started.

Horwath Pulls Ahead as Best Premier …

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was declared by a post-debate Ipsos Reid poll of viewers as being the most likeable of all the party leaders. This positive assessment of her personality could be an indication why the NDP appears to be gaining momentum in the polls and why she is now being rated as the leader who would make the best Premier of Ontario.

Four in ten (38%) Ontarians, overall, believe NDP Leader Andrea Horwath would make the best Premier of the province, up 5 points, while one in three (33%) think Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne would make the best premier, down 5 points. Opinions of PC leader Tim Hudak have soured somewhat since last week, with only 29% believing he would make the best Premier, down 3 points.

Last week, among likely voters, Tim Hudak had the edge – but that edge has evaporated. Among likely voters, specifically, Andrea Horwath (35%, up 5) and Tim Hudak (34%, down 3) are tied, with Kathleen Wynne (31%, down 2) trailing slightly.

Ontarians Still Split on which Party will Win…

Ontarians are still completely split on which party will win on Election Day. Half (50%, unchanged) think that the Liberals will win, while the other half are divided on whether the PCs (35%, down 1 point) or NDP (15%, up 1 point) will win.

Will Voters Stay Home?

Interestingly, 86% of Liberal supporters think they will win. Similar to previous polls, this could suggest that the Liberal vote is complacent, believing their party will win anyway. Somebody sitting on the fence about whether they’ll go out and vote or stay home might decide to stay home if they feel their vote is not needed. In contrast, only 77% of PC voters believe the Tories will win, which could be motivating their base to get out to the polls to give them the best shot possible. One in three (35%) NDP supporters think the NDP will actually win the election. This, combined with the fact that 22% of NDP supporters think the PCs will win, could suggest last-minute vote switching from NDP to Liberal.

Ontarians Still Want Majority Government, But Warming to Idea of Minority Government, Which is Most Likely Outcome…

The polling data continues to show that a majority of Ontarians believe the best outcome for the province is a majority government (56%, down 11 points) rather than a minority government (44%, up 11 points). Significantly more Ontarians than last week believe a minority is most desirable. The fact that there is no agreement on who should lead this government, however, means that Ontario is likely to end up with another minority government. The following chart shows the proportion of Ontarians that most desire each of the following outcomes: