Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Relative stability in Ontario, PCs still lead

A new poll by Nanos Research reported Tuesday by The Globe and Mail shows that the Progressive Conservatives still hold a significant lead over Dalton McGuinty's Liberals, though that lead has narrowed.
Compared to Nanos's last poll in March, the Progressive Conservatives are down three points but still lead with 41% support. The Liberals are down one point to 34%. This means the lead has gone from nine to seven points. The New Democrats are up three points to 19%, while the Greens are up one to 5%.

With the small sample size of 503 Ontarians, none of these changes in support are statistically significant. And considering that the New Democrats had 17% support in the 2007 election, it would appear that the federal campaign has had little impact on the provincial NDP's fortunes in Ontario.

With this poll, ThreeHundredEight projects the Progressive Conservatives win 58 seats and form a majority government. That is a gain of 33 seats over their current standing in the Legislative Assembly, but a drop of four seats since the last projection.

The Liberals win 34 seats, a loss of 38 overall but unchanged from the March projection.

The New Democrats pick-up four seats since March and five over their current crop of MPPs, and would win 15 seats.

Nanos looked into the leadership question, and found some contradictory results. In terms of who would make the best premier, Tim Hudak of the Progressive Conservatives topped the list with 31%, up four points since March.

Current Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty had 25%, up three points, while Andrea Horwath of the NDP jumped six points to 16%. That is a marginally significant real increase for the NDP leader.

But when we remove the "none of them" or "unsures" (that latter group dropped by 11 points), we get Hudak at 42%, McGuinty at 34%, and Horwath at 22%. That is generally where the parties stand, so these leadership numbers would appear to be relatively unimportant.

During the federal campaign, Nanos had the "Leadership Index Score", combining their results on questions of trust, competence, and vision for Canada. Applying that to Ontario gives McGuinty the leg up with a combined score of 85, compared to 71 for Hudak and 37 for Horwath. McGuinty and Hudak were generally at the same level on trust and vision, but McGuinty is considered far more competent.

It would appear that though more Ontarians consider McGuinty to be good at his job, people just don't like him very much. These numbers seem to fit in with the general perception of the Premier that can be sensed in Ontario.

Though a lead is a lead, it isn't the kind of lead a relatively unknown Hudak can take to the bank. Consider that a May 2007 poll by Environics, taken five months before the vote in that year's election, had John Tory's Progressive Conservatives ahead of the Liberals by 38% to 33%. Can McGuinty turn it around again?


  1. We're not actually at the polls yet nor are we into anything approaching real campaign mode.

    When those events start to happen watch for a precipitous drop by Hudak's Tories !!

    This province has NOT forgotten Mike Harris and despite McGuinty's basic screw ups we're way better off than Harris left us. The thought of returning to a Harris Govt is just not on !!

  2. So much will change during the campaign, I think. I expect the NDP to do a lot better than this.

  3. AverageCanuck25 May, 2011 12:19

    Lol no Peter Harris hasn't been forgotten, in fact he's been very popular lately.

    His clone was elected mayor of Toronto and Harper just got a sweeping mandate from Ontario by running a bunch of former Harris cabinet ministers like Clement, Baird, and Flaherty.

    We're 2 out of 3.

    Don't see why the trend would stop just yet.

  4. AverageCanuck,

    If Ontario history proves anything, it is that you can't transpose federal and provincial results and use that as a forecast. Ontario has a long history of electing opposite parties at the federal and provincial level.

    Also, Harper is going to try to get all of his most controversial policy measures out early so that they will be forgotten by October 2015. This will be a problem for Hudak, as, for a while at least, people who voted Conservative in the 905 to stop an NDP government are going to be having buyers remorse.

  5. Peter - I would hope Ontarians are smart enough to realise that it was Ernie Eves - not Mike Harris - who drove up spending and inflated the deficit. Harris was terrific for Ontario.

    But more importantly, who cares? Tim Hudak is not Mike Harris. And Dalton McGuinty has been universally criticised for his gross mismanagement of the province.

    There's no way McGuinty wins another majority.

    edit: This is Ira, by the way. I can't seem to log in.

  6. Kevin Sutton25 May, 2011 17:01

    Harris was a disaster. The severe cuts caused considerable labour disruption, and went far enough to actually cost lives. Despite the surging wealth of the late 90s, the deficit hung on for quite a while due to tax cuts. Worse, no efforts were made to prepare Ontario for the future. Infrastructure went ignored, or just utterly fouled up like the highway or Hydro messes, and nothing was done to improve Ontario's economic future.

    Hudak's proposals so far seem to be utterly devoid of substance and likely to make the deficit even worse. That's not to say that BS isn't an effective political strategy. Essentially he'll get rid of the hot button programs and try to cut fees or taxes for hydro for citizens while just adding it to the deficit. There's no plan for the future or any conception of how power will get cheaper or work will get easier to find.

    McGuinty has a lot of flaws. On the plus side he did do some good things. Education has drastically improved, there's been few if any labour disruptions at the provincial level, efforts to diversify Ontario's power mix have started, and things like the auto bail out have proven to be a pretty good call.

    Regardless, we've seen governments rebound from such deficits before, so it can certainly be done though there's no guarantee.

  7. McGuinty has badly mismanaged healthcare, to the point where health spending now consumes 100% of Ontario's provincial tax revenue (all other spending is funded by federal transfers or deficit financing), and overall he's the worst performing premier in the country in terms of allowing program spending growth to exceed revenue growth.

    I'm not in Ontario, and I don't really know anything about Tim Hudak, but I know that Dalton McGuinty's performance has been terrible.

  8. Ira, as someone who lives in Ontario and lived through the Harris and Eves years I'm reluctant to trust Hudack. I was polled extensively one evening by someone who I believe represented the PC's and the questions they asked had me questioning whether or not I would vote against McGuinty.

    I want an alternative to McGuinty badly but would reluctantly suffer another 4 years of McGuinty rather than return to the Harris years. Hudack will have to convince me that he offers more than that. I oppose McGuinty's green energy plan. It is costly, inefficient and wasteful. I oppose the extension of junior kindergarten because we can't afford it. I don't trust McGuinty. Yet I'll vote for him rather than return to the Mike Harris years. Therein lies Hudack's challenge.

  9. Ira - you aren't in Ontario, and that's the very problem right there. You have to be here to understand.

    I have enough feet in all three worlds, Lib, PC, and NDP, to know that the latter two are still worried about their chances. McGuinty has had some missteps but he remains generally more trustworthy and competent than what people saw during the Peterson, Rae, and Harris years. Ontarians aren't afraid of a McGuinty Liberal government, even if they're tired of it; the same can't be said about Hudak and Horwath.

    Think of it this way: for the incumbent party that is used to routinely being squeezed on both flanks to retain the level of competitive support it does in a province that has seen its worst years... there's something there you're missing, isn't there?

  10. Earl and I are on the same page re Hudak.

    Remember Hudak was a Harris lieutenant and as such carries the can !!

    Once the campaign really gets under way watch for the PC's (note not CPC name) to start to slide. Ford is proving to be not a great success, Five more months and the smell should be really ripe !!

    McGuinty may not be very good but at least he's not a Harris/Eves clone !!

  11. Volkov, Kevin Sutton, Earl, myself. Unlike the other pundits on here we actually live in Ontario.

    The literally positive hatred of Harris and all he stands/stood for has to be experienced.

    So far Hudak has managed to keep the stench under control although his latest pronouncements are raising the aroma level.

    There is also the "tradition/status quo" in Ontario where we ALWAYS have a different party than what's running Ottawa also kicks in.

    That said my personal preference woulds be a McQuinty minority supported by the NDP. That I figure would probably give the best of all possible outcomes.

  12. The provinces routinely make what I think are bad decisions. I strongly favoured the Liberals in the NB election last year, but the PCs won. And BC (where I live) hasn't elected a competent government in decades.

    I miss Alberta.

  13. Actually, iirc, Harris _increased_ spending on health care during his term. It was the federal Liberals who slashed it (by 1/3rd early in Harris' term) and all other transfer payments (such as welfare and education).

    In the end though, what matters is who will attack the root cause of skyrocketing health care costs - namely poor management and politically focused targets over real targets. For example, home care is far cheaper than in-hospital care yet policies force people to go into the hospitals far more often (drugs covered while in hospital not if you are out, cuts regularly to home care resources, etc.)

    Sadly, only the Green's have said anything (with a budget for pricing mixed in) that makes the slightest sense and we all know how much attention that'll get in the media (ie: none).

  14. AverageCanuck26 May, 2011 16:35

    I think a lot of the pundits on here from Ontario burnt through a lot of credibility.

    They said Ford couldn't win because he was just like Harris. They said Harper couldn't win because he was too right wing and Toronto hated him.

    And yet the right side seems to be sweeping Ontario right now.

    Eric did you notice that Abacus has a new national poll out ?

    Harper is at 40%, although the news report has botched their headlines and say his support is "unchanged" (because he got 40% in the election).

    However, the last Abacus data poll had him at 37%. Presumably if an election were held today he'd get 43%.

    So Harper up 3 and enjoying a political honeymmoon is the correct analysis.

  15. No, even at 40% statistically that isn't a real change from their 37%, let alone the election.

  16. Eric,

    Could you please, just one day, explain to people like AverageCanuck why it's more than a little dumb to assume that the automatic margin of error for polls is based on the results they got during an election, as he so... elegantly put forward?

  17. AverageCanuck26 May, 2011 20:58

    Eric I think you missed my point.

    You can't compare apples and oranges.

    Any poll that comes out should be compared to the last poll by the same company and NOT to the actual election results.

    MOE of error is a seperate issue and not what i'm talking about. Although its also incorrect to say support is "unchanged".

    The range of possible levels of support for CPC support has increased by 3% on the bottom and top end.

    That matters.

  18. AverageCanuck26 May, 2011 22:45

    Volkov it isn't dumb because the difference between a polling firm's final election numbers and the actual election results aren't just random error.

    Polling firms have showed persistent differences in the levels of support they give parties over the years.

    Sometimes people make the mistake of brushing it off by claiming everyone is saying the same thing, one firm is just at the top end of MOE and the other is just that bottom end.

    But MOE should have a random distribution, not the same thing week after week.

    So yes, the % difference between support and election results includes a good dose of random error but it also includes the polling firms lean.

    There's a range of possible outcomes.

    Its a curve of some kind with the highest point being occupied by a difference value that's exactly the same as the one in the last election.

    Peter over at pundits guide awhile ago Alice mentioned a study that showed that's complete bunk.

    Its an urban legend that Ontario elects a different party between province/federal.

    Its all random, there's no correlation at all.

  19. Eric I'm surprised that you permitted Peter's comment as follows to be posted.

    "And TS has it by a country mile over "Average Canucks" attachment to the CPC rectum !!"

    If Peter lack the intelligence to express himself without resorting to the kind of statement above then you as a moderator ought to exercise your intelligence and act on his behalf. Depictions of other posters in this manner is not only ignorant and offensive but rude. Such conduct also discourages the exchange of ideas because it is nothing more than child like name calling.


  20. Sorry Earl, I skimmed the comment quickly and didn't notice the use of that word.

    All - please make my job easier as comment moderator and keep it clean and reasonably respectful.

  21. What Peter and Earl say is true.

    I also think that those of us who went through the education system in Ontario during the Harris years haven't forgotten him either. I guess Harris was popular among adult workers who got to keep more of their cash, but those of us who relied on society's services remember that time with dread. Teachers hated him, and so did the students.

    But still... until recently, McGuinty was known as the Teflon premier because no scandal was able to hurt him. I think the point when the turnaround really began was during Toronto's mayoral race, when Smitherman entered and people got to know the eHealth scandal.

    The windfarm health safety complaints coming from the rural areas also seem to have penetrated the public consciousness to some degree. And of course, Ontario being a "Have Not" province, and increased electricity costs.

    If McGuinty had been able to keep his finances in order, I think he would've been reelected without any trouble. Now... I don't know.

    I do like his long-term projects; I think most of them are pretty smart.

  22. Hudak may win, but it certainly won't be from a breakthrough in the 416 like the federal election.

    Most people in Toronto voted for Ford to reduce spending, not to build an expensive subway. And his challenger, George Smitherman was saddled with a lot of baggage from the e-health spending scandal. Personally I don't see Mayor Ford delivering on his gravy train promises unless Jim Flarhety opens up the public purse.

    I don't really see a Liberal collapse in Toronto as NDP support is not as strong in Toronto provincially and the Liberals have the incumbent advantage. So there will not be large transfer of votes to the NDP to create vote splits.

    Hudak has to live with the legacy of the common sense revolution. That sweetheart Hwy. 407 lease for 99 years was a terrible deal to help Harris balance the books for 1999. He also downloaded a lot of costs to the cities without giving them new revenue sources to pay for them.

    While Hudak will win, it will most likely be the seats in the rural areas as well as the 905 regions, like last time.

    P.S. Mike Harris cancelled the Eglintion subway in 1996 and slashed welfare rates by 22% so he could reduce the income tax rate by 30%. If we had that kind of money, we could have finished building Mayor Ford's subways on Sheppard and Eglinton. Saying Mike Harris is great would imply that he was robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    EF from TO

  23. "Esn said...

    What Peter and Earl say is true.

    I also think that those of us who went through the education system in Ontario during the Harris years haven't forgotten him either. "

    And now according to Sundays Tor Star Hudak has come out with virtually an exact copy of the line of bilge Harris came out with. And all we Ontarians know precisely where that kind of thinking leads !!

    In Ontario vote Anything But Conservative !!

  24. The most disturbing aspect of Hudack's platform is that it does not accelerate the end of deficit spending. By staying with McGuinty's plan to balance the budget by 2018 there really is little incentive to vote for Huck and the PC's. I like some pieces of his platform such as same rules for everyone, removal of the HST on home heating and electricity, but wonder why he doesn't promise to eliminate the HST in its entirety in 2016.

    By phasing in 3.5 billion in tax cuts while the province is still in deficit there is the possibility that Hudack will exacerbate the deficit resulting in cuts to education and health spending.

    Perhaps the fatigue Ontarians show with the McGuinty will be enough to propel Hudack into power. I for one hope not. My disappointment in the Ontario PC's could not be more pronounced. I was seriously looking for an alternative to the Liberals. Now I have none.


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