Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ontario Liberals up in GTA, close gap with PCs

On Thursday, The National Post reported on a new Ipsos-Reid poll on the provincial political situation in Ontario. The results show that the Liberals have made some gains at the expense of both the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, but that they would still lose the election to Tim Hudak.The last Ontario poll from Ipsos-Reid dates from mid-November. Indeed, that is the last Ontario poll from any firm. It's amazing to me that a province as large as Ontario, and with an election less than a year away, is not polled more often. Léger Marketing and CROP poll the voting intentions of Quebecers on a monthly basis, and the next election there won't be until 2013.

In any case, compared to that last Ipsos-Reid poll, the Progressive Conservatives have lost three points, but still lead with 38%. The governing Liberals are up three points to 35%, closing the gap to just inside of the 3.5 margin of error for this telephone poll.

Andrea Horwath's New Democrats are down three points to 17%, while the Greens are up two to 9%.

The Liberals are leading among voters aged 18-34, among women, university grads, and people with incomes of $30,000 or less. The PCs, on the other hand, lead among those aged over 35, those with a high school or college education, those who make more than $30,000, and among men.

The source of the Liberal gain is the Greater Toronto Area, as Dalton McGuinty's party has increased its support by 12 points. They now lead with 45%, followed by the Progressive Conservatives at 32%, down eight points. The NDP is down five points to 15%.

Another region of Liberal gain was in southwestern Ontario. The PCs are still well ahead here, however, though they are down five points to 43%. The Liberals are up three points to 24%, tied with the NDP (who are unchanged).

The Progressive Conservatives also lead in central and eastern Ontario, at 44% and 57% respectively. That's a 16 point gain for the PCs in the eastern part of the province. The Liberals are down one point to 26% in central Ontario, and are down 16 points to 25% in the east. The NDP is down four points to 18% in central Ontario.

Where Hudak's party is not doing well is in the north, where they have dropped four points to 19%. The Liberals lead here at 41%, unchanged from November, while the NDP is up five points to 34%.

Based on the results of this poll, I would project 54 seats for the Progressive Conservatives, 39 for the Liberals, and 14 for the New Democrats. That's a gain of seven seats for the Liberals from my last projection, five of them coming at the expense of the Progressive Conservatives.

This would give Hudak the slimmest of majorities. In fact, putting a PC MLA in the Speaker's chair would split the Legislative Assembly down the middle. How this would play out is unknowable, but if McGuinty resigned as leader of the party after the defeat it is likely that Hudak would be able to govern without trouble. If the race continues to be this close throughout the year, it should be an interesting campaign.

13 comments:

  1. It's way too early for any kind of Ford blow-back in Toronto, so I think that this may just suggest an end to the election haze in the region.

    That and the public's memory can be pretty short. McGuinty has put at least a couple of things in his rear view mirror and may pull back ahead if the surprise fees and spending scandals stop materializing.

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  2. I think Ontario will end up with a minority government and McGuinty will end up having to do an accord with Andrea Horwath in order to stay in power.

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  3. I can't see the Conservatives holding that kind of support come election day. When your big talking point of the week is to demand the gov't get rid of the Hydro Debt Retirement Charge, which you implemented when you were in power it shows how desperate you are.

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  4. There was once a time, in the 1970s, when in Ontario a PC/NDP coalition wouldn't be out of the question. Hudak is no Davis, but he's no Harris either (whatever McGuinty's people like to claim) - since we know in Canada 'coalitions of the losers' don't go down well, I wonder if we could possibly see Hudak and Horwath work together.

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  5. Who was in power when the Hydro Debt Retirement Charge was implemented?

    Many supporters of Mike Harris thought that Ernie Eves was a terrible Premier. I don't think it's fair to point to one government and claim that it's the same as another run by a different leader.

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  6. Ernie Eves WAS a terrible Premier.

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  7. Hey Ira,

    Hudak was member of the government that implemented it. And so were a number of the current Conservative MP's. Fair or not I think it's a bad idea to bring up something that pisses people off and remind them that your party implemented it. I definately agree with your point but I still think it's a bad idea. Geez Iggy gets flak for things Chretien and Martin did nad he wasn't even in the country.

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  8. "we know in Canada 'coalitions of the losers' don't go down well, I wonder if we could possibly see Hudak and Horwath work together."

    Actually, Ontario already had a so-called "coalition of losers" in 1985 when the second place Liberals and third place NDP negotiated an accord and took power. That government proved to be very popular and in the subsequent election in 1987 the previously first place Tories lost two thirds of their seats and fell into 3rd place.

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  9. DL,

    I'm not sure that I'd characterize the 1985 accord between the NDP and the Liberals as a coalition of the losers, just because the Tories had more seats.

    Remember, in that election both the NDP and Liberals made significant gains, while the Tories lost heavily (after having been in power for 4 decades). Moreover, the Liberals ended up with a larger share of the popular vote than the Tories (37.9 to 37). So while the Tories had (slighly) more seats, the optics of the election was that they were the losers and the Liberals and the NDP were the winners.

    That's a very different scenario from the coalition of the losers in 2008, when the Tories had made gains (both in seats and votes) and the the Liberals lost heavily (in terms of both seats and votes). By any measure (and certainly in public perception) the Liberals were the losers of the 2008 election.

    I could readily see a Tory minority government forming after the next election. While, in theory you could see a NDP/Liberal coalition, I think the dynamics of the campaign would be such that that won't happen. If people are pissed at the McGuinty government, the NDP might not be too keen to sign on as his junior partner and end up being tainted by association.

    In that respect, I don't either 2008 or 1985 offer an anology. The better anology would be the the federal election in 2006. In theory Martin could have tried to cobble together a minority government, but in practice neither the NDP nor the Bloc were eager to tie themselves to the Liberals. Another comparision is last year's British election. Ideologically, you might have thought that a Labour/Liberal coalition would have made more sense, but after the pasting Labour took, no one wanted to tie themselves to a discredited government.

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  10. The problem in the UK was that the Liberal Democrats and Labour together didn't have enough seats for a majority - so it was a non-starter from the get-go. Also, the LDs are the centre party in the UK so it wasn't that crazy for them to form a coalition with the Tories, there is a whole wing in that party that is quite rightwing.

    In contrast there ZERO common ground between the Ontario NDP and PCs under Hudak - NONE, NADA! I think that the only way Hudak becomes premier is if he wins a majority. If Hudak just has a plurality, McGuinty as the incumbent Premier would simply meet the house, present a Throne speech and dare the NDP to vote it down and install a far-right union-bashing government under Hudak. I don't see any choice for Horwath under those circumstances.

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  11. Nobody is going to believe me but this is my thinking.

    The Anti-Harris thinking is starting to really impact Hudak. So expect the next poll to be even worse for Hudak.

    This province actually does remember and will not support another Harris clone. Eves was enough.

    Plus we have a habit of having a provincial Govt of the other national party from what's in Ottawa. Thus the McGuinty Liberals will return as there seems no chance of removing the CPC minority in Ottawa.

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  12. I think you should examine polling trends in Ontario months before election day. I feel provincial polls are notoriously inaccurate this far outside the actual election.

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  13. They might not be a good indicator of how they will vote on election day, but it doesn't mean they aren't an accurate portrayal of how people would vote now.

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