Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PCs on track for slim majority in Ontario

On Sunday, The National Post reported on a new poll from Ipsos-Reid on the voting intentions of Ontarians. Though it doesn't show much change from Ipsos's last poll in January, or much variation from Nanos's last poll in May, it does show a widening lead for Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives.

The Progressive Conservatives are up a statistically insignificant two points in Ontario, and now lead with 40%. The Liberals are down one point to 34%, while the New Democrats are up three points to 20%.

Even that gain isn't much to write home about, considering the sample of 802 Ontarians.

A six-point lead would be the slimmest since Mike Harris's last election in 1999, and would result in a similar outcome.

The Progressive Conservatives are up in places where they are usually weak, however. They have gained six points in the GTA and 17 points in northern Ontario, putting them neck-and-neck with the Liberals in both regions.

They have dropped a little in southwest (-2) and central (-3) Ontario, and are down 10 points in eastern Ontario. However, they still lead the Liberals by 16 points in that region.

For the Liberals, they have made modest gains in eastern (+6) and southwest (+5) Ontario, but are down six points in the GTA and four points in the north.

The New Democrats, meanwhile, are relatively stable in the GTA and southwest and central Ontario, but are up 11 points in the eastern part of the province. They are down seven in the north.

The Progressive Conservatives are in a good position, leading as they do in their traditional regions but also putting up a good fight in the GTA and northern Ontario. This should be of great concern to the Liberals.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects a slim majority government for the Progressive Conservatives, with 57 of the province's 107 seats. The Liberals win 35 seats and the New Democrats 15.

Compared to their current standings in the Legislative Assembly, that's a 32-seat gain for the PCs, a 36-seat loss for the Liberals, and a five-seat pick-up for the NDP.

This is not much different from the projection for Nanos's last poll, which had 58 seats for the Progressive Conservatives and 34 for the Liberals.

Considering Dalton McGuinty's personal unpopularity, the PCs could be doing better than this. They are still well below the electoral outcome of the federal Conservatives in the province, and the provincial Liberals don't seem to have been hurt by their federal counterpart's drubbing at the polls.

Hudak will be running his first campaign as leader, McGuinty his fourth. Will Dalton McGuinty's experience win out, or will voters want change for change's sake?