Monday, September 12, 2011

McGuinty, Hudak bound for even split in early days of Ontario vote

After less than a week on the campaign trail, the race for the Ontario premiership is as tight as it gets. With polls showing leads for both the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, the election is, at this early stage, a toss-up. But were an election held today, Queen’s Park would be more divided than it’s been in more than 25 years. 

Based on a weighted aggregation of the latest polls,’s seat projection model puts the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals on track to win 44 seats apiece, with the New Democrats taking the remaining 19 seats in the 107-seat Legislature. With even numbers in the caucuses of both Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak, the NDP would be in a position to decide which man becomes Ontario’s next premier.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website, here, including discussion of regional breakdown and ranges.

But to give you a taste, six seats switched from the Progressive Conservatives to the Liberals since last week's projection. Two of them were in Toronto, while one each were in the GTA, Ottawa, and the southwestern and central parts of the province.

It is still very early going in the campaign, and no poll that was taken in its entirety after the writ dropped has yet to be released. The Harris-Decima poll, in blatant opposition to those from Nanos, Angus-Reid, and Forum, also muddies the waters. But remember that the Harris-Decima poll, having a small sample and also having been taken primarily in the same time period as the others (and so isn't rated as being much "newer"), only takes up a small proportion of the projection.

I'll be speaking on the Téléjournal Ontario tonight. It airs at 6:00 PM in most of the province, and 11:00 PM in the Ottawa area. If you have a satellite or digital cable you can probably find it even if you don't live in the province.


  1. that's quite the vote inefficiency, for a 5 point gap to translate into even seats. i just hope we get a stable government out of this election...i thought we were done with the constant electioneering once Harper got his majority... but 2 years of provincially will be unbearable :P

  2. Have to disagree with your numbers as far as the Huron-Bruce and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound ridings go.

    Carol Mitchell, the Liberal incumbent is not terribly popular and I can't imagine her having anything close to 38% support right now. Green Energy Act and impending closure of the Walkerton Jail heavily weighing against her. The PC candidate is a rookie nobody has ever heard of, yet they have strong support regardless of whether or not their candidate has a pulse. The NDP is running Grant Robertson again after he finished 2nd federally in May. I think it's closer to a 3-way race than your numbers indicate.

    As for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, the Green numbers are not anything close to what you give it. The Green candidate (Shane Jolley) who ran and finished 2nd in 2007 is now running as an Independent and his support should probably be reflected as such. I agree Bill Walker (PC) is the front-runner, but he's not Bill Murdoch and I don't think he has the commanding lead your numbers suggest. While I would agree Liberal support is pretty much dead in this riding, I think the NDP (Paul Johnstone) is more popular than the Green/Independent candidates, given his visibility surrounding the Owen Sound Jail issue.

    I understand rural polls are few and far between, so I can appreciate not having much to go on. Keep up the good work, always enjoy your site and newspaper material.

  3. RuralWatcher,

    Thanks for the local intel, you may very well be right. The model takes a broader view, but perhaps the election will have some lessons for us for next time.

  4. In 1999 a 5-point lead for the Tories with similar riding boundaries, gave Harris a second majority. What has changed in Ontario to make that no longer feasible? What assumptions are you making about the swing (eg. uniform swing, etc.)?

  5. What has changed? The 2007 electoral result points to this kind of problem for the Tories.

    Explanations on the methodology can be found in the right hand column. The model uses a proportional swing method.

  6. I'm looking forward to seeing how today's new polls affect things.

  7. If the poll were today with these very numbers, it'd be a fascinating exercise on electoral 'what-ifs'. In 1985, the NDP propped up the Liberals despite the Grits having four fewer seats than the Tories, but (a) the Grits beat the Tories on popular vote, and (b) both the Liberals and the NDP received pretty strong mandates for change.

    This time around, if the NDP are kingmakers again, you'll have Hudak both with the moral high ground of a larger popular vote and with the 'time for a change' impetus he shares with Horwath. With common ground on HST, gas prices and opposition to McGuinty's hire-a-new-Canadian programme, the temptation would be pretty high for Horwath to strike a 'deal with the devil', even though that would probably result in NDP support so low that Nick Clegg would pity them.

  8. Eric,

    Do you just use the 2007 election results in your data? Do you translate any of the federal results into the provincial data?

    I think the NDP will put a strong showing in ridings where they won or almost won in the federal level. Two ridings that come into mind are Scarborough-Rouge River and Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

    On a side note, what is interesting is that the Liberal comeback isn't really affecting NDP numbers that much. Looks like the Liberal support is coming from centrist voters, rather than the left. The NDP support looks steady this election, and this will be thanks to Jack Layton.

    - Maple

  9. Bungle Jerry:

    As much as Horwath and Hudak share common ground on those things you mentioned, I doubt that Horwath will want to give the job of Premier to Hudak. The PC and NDP are too far ideologically apart, while they may want some of the same things like change in government, the NDP are closer to the liberals.

    As you said, even if Horwath and Hudak make some sort of deal, NDP supporters will see this as opportunist and will likely go to another party (most likely the liberals). It just seems like a short-term gain with a big risk of losing lots of voters in the long term.

    As much as I wouldn't mind seeing politicians working together and not just looking out for themselves, in this situation it could be political suicide for the NDP

  10. "Looks like the Liberal support is coming from centrist voters, rather than the left"
    If those trends continue, the liberals will be returning as the governing party. I remember I heard somewhere that most Ontarians identify themselves as centrists. And from the looks of it, Mcguinty is regaining the centrist core that won him his last 2 majorities.

    This was Hudak's election to lose, but now it looks like Mcguinty has a good chance to remain as Premier. Way to go Timmy!

  11. Maple,

    Yes, just the 2007 election results.

    I've run the numbers with the new polls, and it's a heckuva swing.

  12. With those new polls, the PC campaign is melting down. The "foreign worker" thing is hurting, and clearly the "tax man" meme isn't getting any traction.

  13. Conservatives do well when they focus on fiscal issues. Bring up social issues to pander to the hard-right............ and watch the centrist voters run away. Hudak with his "foreigner slur" (to citizens, no less) and Tory with his religious schools....... next time the Tories should smarten up !
    Yours truly (born abroad but lived most of my adult life in Canada) think DMG made a mistake with his affirmative action plan, but Hudak is fast digging himself into a bigger hole !

  14. Even a tied vote could give McGuinty a majority, only 7 Liberal seats that are strictly LIB-PC battlegrounds have less than an 10.7 percent margin (the distance between PC and Liberal last time). In a hypothetical 37-37-21-5 scenario (LIB-PC-NDP-GRN/OTH) the Liberals lose 7 seats to the PCs and 8 to the NDP leaving the legislature with 55 Liberals, 34 PCs and 18 NDP. Obviously many more Liberals retired and the result would be a bit lower but with a tied vote the Liberals should still have somewhere in the high 40s in seats, 10 or so ahead of the PCs with the NDP around 20 or even higher if they maintain their polling around 25%.

  15. @Maple, actually, I think it's likely that a significant part of the Liberal improvement has to do with a collapse of Green Party support, who got 8% last time. The Liberals this time have quite a green-friendly platform, and when their main opposition promises to undo as many of the Liberals' green policies as possible, the choice for Green Party supporters is pretty stark. I voted for the Greens in 2007, but I'm planning to vote Liberal this time around; my loyalty is to the issues rather than the party.

    By the way, there's a new Nanos poll which confirms the Liberal lead that the other pollsters are showing:

  16. Where are you getting the data on Ancaster-Dundas-etc? Donna Skelly is woefully unpopular here, her selection as a PC candidate pretty much handicapped them for this election. I mean, I'd love if they win here, but it seems extremely unlikely that she's in any sort of lead, I'd be shocked if she came in any better than 3rd place.

  17. Raxrs,

    I have no specific reports from that riding, projections are based on provincial trends with some local factors (incumbency, etc.) included. I suggest you read the full description of the seat projection methodology, available in the right-hand column.


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