Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hudak back on top

It has been little more than three months since the last vote was held in Ontario, but already the pendulum has swung back in Tim Hudak’s favour. The good news for Premier Dalton McGuinty, however, is that Hudak has squandered an advantage before.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

The article gives the poll a little context and looks at the stakes in the Ontario minority legislature. But let's look at the actual results of the poll.
If Forum wasn't releasing a poll-a-week, I'm not quite sure what we'd all do. But Ontario is in a minority situation, so it is probably a good idea to keep tabs on what's going on in the province.

This is the second poll to be released since the vote was held on October 6, the other having been put out in November by Innovative Research and finding that Ontarians had not yet changed their minds.

This poll, however, shows a big shift in support as the Progressive Conservatives stand at 41%, six points above their election result. The Liberals have fallen five points to 33%, while the NDP is down three points to 20%.

I don't have a model prepared yet for the next Ontario election, but this would likely result in a PC majority and a loss of seats for both the Liberals and the New Democrats.

The Tories are leading in eastern Ontario (51%), the 905 region of Toronto (44%), southwestern Ontario (38%), and northern Ontario (42%). They hold a narrow one-point edge over the Liberals in the GTA, which includes the 905 region.

The Liberals are only leading in the 416 region of Toronto, the core of the city (44%), while the New Democrats look weak in every part of the province. Most dangerously for them, they are behind both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives in northern Ontario.

But Andrea Horwath has the best personal numbers, with an approval rating of 40% and a disapproval rating of 28%. That gives her a net +12 approval rating, whereas both Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak are net negatives. Hudak has the lowest approval rating at 26%, but McGuinty has the highest disapproval rating at 56%. Hudak's disapproval rating stands at 48% while McGuinty's approval rating is at 33%.

Almost everyone in Ontario has an opinion on Dalton McGuinty, with only 11% unsure of whether they approve or disapprove of his performance. That contrasts quite a bit with Hudak (26% don't know) and Horwath (32%).

As I mention in the article, Tim Hudak has led the Liberals by wide margins before only to fall behind. At 41%, his party is at its highest level of support since the beginning of the last election campaign, while the Liberals hit 33% several times prior to the vote. In other words, this poll could have been pulled out of early September, suggesting that there's little that could be taken to the bank if the Tories somehow managed to force another election. I wouldn't bet against McGuinty if the campaign started today.


  1. Ah Gee Eric.

    You mean we get to watch Hudak grasp defeat from the jaws of victory again??

    Wasn't the first time nauseating enough ???

  2. Given the current situation I can't see Horvath pulling the plug on McGuinty for at least two years.

    She has a problem just catching up to McGuinty in the party polls let alone tackling Hudak's nutty numbers !!

  3. I'd like to see some other Ontario numbers saying that this is the case before thinking that the PCs somehow managed to pull off this kind of gain. There has been practically zero news out of Queen's Park lately and nothing big has happened that would be responsible for this shift.

    This poll could well be an outlier.

  4. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/liberals-momentum-surges-thanks-to-lacking-ndp-leadership-poll/article2313057/

  5. Would it be safe to assume that McGuinty's talks of cuts and austerity be what is hurting him? In that case... why would people move to the PCs??

  6. Haru,

    I don't think its talk of austerity - it's the recent scandals.

    Anyways, I got with my projection 54-38-15, Eric. It'll be interesting to see if we match up whenever your system is done.

  7. Horwath has great personal numbers, Hudak has great party numbers.

    McGuinty has nothing.

    That means both the NDP and PC are going to wait a year, let these nasty cuts and scandals really stick to McGuinty, and then pull the plug before he can announce retirement !!

  8. The PCs need at least a lead of 30% just in case Mr. Hudak squanders 15% in the next election. While McGuinty is struggling in the polls, Hudak's approval ratings are just as terrible (-22 for Hudak, -23 for McGuinty).

    McGuinty has never polled well between elections and if voters actually have to make a decision on voting day, McGuinty will probably still win simply because Hudak can't connect with the voters and because most of the Liberal "scandals" occurred early in the term for the government to fix things. The NDP would be out of their mind to defeat the government because it would mean strategic voting may cost the NDP seats in tight races.

  9. What the PCs need is a new leader. They've had a knack for picking terrible campaigners (ie John Tory) as leaders of late.

  10. The Ontario Liberals are going to be governing for a while. They are a well funded and well organized political machine. Dalton McGuinty is cozy with both unions and corporations. HST fiasco is over, and current debt issues facing the province would not strike the same emotional chord as a tax increase or health/education service cut.

    I predict McGuinty will resign in 2013-14 and the new premier will call for an election in which the Liberals win a majority. If the opposition brings McGuinty down before he resigns, I think will be back for a fourth term.

    Tim Hudak is a weak leader, who will never become premier. The Ontario Tories are disorganized and have been showing visible tensions between their moderate and right-wing factions for years. The party has no ethnic outreach for the GTA unlike their federal cousins. This isn't 1995 anymore.

  11. "This isn't 1995 anymore. "

    Precisely Anon. Nicely put !!

  12. No, it's not 1995... it's 2012. It's a very different ballgame now, and even as a committed Liberal I find your comments ignorant of political realities in Ontario.

    Here's the situation: Hudak had a bad go of it this time around, but so did McGuinty in 1999. All it takes is for Hudak's PCs to organize themselves based upon the lessons learned in the campaign. That's well within their ability to do, and if they play their cards right - let McGuinty chug along for a couple years as the austerity cuts kick in, pull the plug, and become a bouquet of roses compared to the Liberals.

    It's not hard to envision all of this. And if you think the PCs aren't capable of it then you don't know what you're talking about, sorry.

  13. This isn't 1995 ? Tell that to Rob Ford.

    Its actuallly 2004.

    The Ontario scene is identical to the scene after Martin's minority win.

    Hudak made a good first start. He gained 12 seats and beat the likeable and ethnic outreaching John Tory's efforts by close to 4%.

    Building on that positive momentum its likely we'll see a PC minority next go around.

    And then finally a PC majority a few years after that if the voters like what they see.

    Remember McGuinty has lost support for two elections in a row now.

    I see no reason why that will change in the next one.

  14. I think there's some truth to Volkov's comments about recent scandals. That said, I think austerity probably is part of the story here, in the sense that, like in 1995, there is a taste (at least outside the public sector) that the public sector has become too cushy over the past 8 years such that a party promising to wage war on public sector wages (not, I note, public sector employment or public sector services) may well be able to garner support. And I note that since the election, that's a position that the Tories have staked out, while the Liberals have only recently started hinting that they might go down that path. Hudak's problem, I think, is that he didn't stake out that position until AFTER the election, rather than before and during it. When you run on the same platform as the Liberals, it's no surprise that voters choose them over you.

    That being said, if handled adroitly, the Liberals might be able to reap some of that same support (as the federal Liberals did quite effectively in the 1990s). However, given the unwillingness of the grits to push for public sector wage freezes in the heart of the recession, I have my doubts about (a) their willingness to actually take the hard decisions neccesary and (b) their ability to handle their former public sector union supporters. The real risk for McGuinty is that he ends up getting pulled apart by the other two parties, with union support shifting to the NDP, while fiscally conservative voters shift to the Tories.

  15. Ryan: "What the PCs need is a new leader. They've had a knack for picking terrible campaigners (ie John Tory) as leaders of late."

    That's the same short-term thinking that's gutted the federal Liberals. You can't just sack your leader if he doesn't win an election.

    I'll be the first to admit that Hudak's 2011 campaign was not good. But it was no worse than McGuinty's 1999 campaign (where McGuinty was savaged by the Tories and had his head handed to him by Mike Harris) or, for that matter, Mike Harris' 1990 campaign (when the Tories finished a distant third to Bob Rae), and it was much better than Tory's 2007 campaign (and note, what killed Tory wasn't the 2007 campaign, in which he performed much worse than Hudak did in 2011, it was the failure to win a seat in what should have been a safe Tory riding in 2009). Think the Grits and Tories, respectively, regret giving McGuinty and Harris a second chance?

  16. "That's the same short-term thinking that's gutted the federal Liberals. You can't just sack your leader if he doesn't win an election."

    ^ THIS

    the Libs got rid of leaders because they were decimated in their first election and failed to define them for themselves. Harper, McGuinty, harris all lost their first elections. it's about building over the longterm, not getting a new face every 4 years. Give Hudak time, and some lessons in how to not look like a political robot in public and get a new team behind him in the war room and they'll be well-positioned to take strong minority if not majority power next go-around.

  17. There is no way Mr. Hudak will win a majority government, since there is no way that McGuinty's austerity measures will cost lives (Walkerton?) and GTA voters just don't want Conservatives in all three levels of government. Mr Hudak's leadership just turns off potential PC voters because clearly if you're angry all the time, you're not going to get much done (remember, he has the lowest approval rating). Ms. Horwath at least is trying to make this government work. The PCs aren't going to do much of anything differently than the Liberals, so why risk changing governments?

  18. "GTA voters just don't want Conservatives in all three levels of government"

    Funny, Eric's polling numbers suggest otherwise.

    In any event, the claim that Hudak turns off potential PC voters isn't self-evidently true. Despite having run a (by his own account) weak campaign, he did increase his share of the popular vote to within a few percentage points of the Grits (despite a very aggresive anti-Hudak campaign, funded by the people McGuinty is proposing to shank, namely public sector unions - I don't think he can count on that support next time out). Moreover, I seem to recall the same thing being said about both Mike Harris and Stephen Harper. The Liberals should be very careful about dismissing Hudak.


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