Thursday, April 19, 2012

PCs lead, NDP second in Ontario

Considering the Ontario Liberal government could (but probably won't) fall as soon as Tuesday, it comes as no surprise that two polls have been released within the last 24 hours. The results, however, are surprising: Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives are in the lead, trailed not by the Liberals but by Andrea Horwath's NDP.
Since Forum was last in the field on Mar. 28, the Tories have held steady with 34% support. The New Democrats, however, are up one point to 31%, moving them ahead of the Liberals who are down two points to 28%.

The Greens are unchanged at 5% support.

It is a very close three-way race. The PCs lead in eastern Ontario with 43% (unchanged) and southwestern Ontario with 37% (+2), and are tied for the lead in the GTA with 32% (+1).

The New Democrats, meanwhile, lead in northwestern Ontario with 57% (+14), northern Ontario with 40% (+9), northeastern Ontario with 37% (+8), and the 905 Area Code with 35% (+3).

The Liberals are ahead in the 416 Area Code with 37% (-7) and are tied for first with 32% (-4) in the GTA.

Note that Forum combines the 416 and 905 results to get their GTA total, while northeastern and northwestern Ontario combine to give the northern Ontario total.

Each party has their region of strength, but each party is also competitive in every part of the province. This makes the potential seat result unpredictable. A few points here, a few points there, and dozens of seats could be swapped.
Environics, which has not released an Ontario poll since the election, agrees with the general trend that Forum has identified. In their polling, the Tories lead with 37%, followed by the NDP at 30%, the Liberals at 27%, and the Greens at 6%.

Though it is still a close three-way race, according to Environics the Tories are much better positioned. However, this survey is half the size of Forum's so the margin of error (+/- 4.5%) is quite large.

Because of the smaller sample, Environics split the regional results into the GTA and the rest of Ontario only.

In the GTA, the Liberals lead with 37% to 34% for the PCs and 24% for the NDP. This is not exactly what Forum found, as they pegged the Liberals and Tories at 32% to 31% for the NDP. But with the MOE we're looking at a tight contest either way.

In the rest of Ontario, the Tories hold a wide lead - as should be expected. They are ahead with 39%, followed closely by the NDP at 34%. The Liberals are well behind with 20%.

This is in general agreement with Forum, as outside of the GTA the Liberals only scored between 23% and 27%, while the NDP was between 26% and 40% and the PCs between 30% and 43%.

In terms of raw seat numbers, these two polls make no difference for the New Democrats. But context is very important.

With Forum's close race, the Progressive Conservatives win 48 seats to 31 for the NDP and 28 for the Liberals. That means a minority government of some kind. Would it be a Hudak minority propped up by the Liberals, or an NDP-Liberal coalition?

But with Environics' seven-point lead for the PCs, the Tories win 55 seats and a slim majority. The NDP still wins 31 seats but are left without much influence in the legislature. The Liberals are reduced to 21 seats.

But with this kind of confused jumble of a three-way race, anything could happen. The last campaign demonstrated how fickle voters can be, with the Tories having squandered a wide lead in a matter of weeks. While the PCs have committed to voting down the budget, the New Democrats should take a lesson from Tim Hudak's experience last fall. They might be riding high now, but what about after four weeks of campaigning?

It seems very likely that the NDP will support the budget after getting a few concessions from Dalton McGuinty. Only about one-third of people polled are open to having another election, and the parties themselves are heavily in debt from the last campaign. But the brinksmanship is on, and while it seems a fair bet that Ontarians won't be going to the polls this spring, it seems just as unlikely that the government will survive until 2015.

35 comments:

  1. A few months ago the NDP was around the low twenties. Pretty volatile electorate. But the NDP appears to be on the upswing all across Canada, both Provincially and Federally for a while now.

    Ken Y

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  2. Horwarth is doing an excellent job in Ontario. The Forum poll had her approval rating at 46% nearly double that of McGuinty and Hudak.

    It will be interesting to see if she can maintain her edge and if the Ontario NDP's popularity translates into federal support for the NDP. Ontario is the last region where the NDP trail the Liberals federally.

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    1. The NDP leader is doing a fine job. Now, Ms.Horwath just has to concentrate on raising her name recognition to the point where even her approvers will know how to spell her name correctly.

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    2. And that's because so many Ontario voters have bad memories of the early 1990's.

      If the federal Liberals went into an election with Rae at the lead, I strongly suspect it would depress both the Liberal and NDP votes in Ontario and hand the province to the Conservatives once again.

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    3. AS - I think that liability is a bit overblown. Polls don't suggest that it's hampering Rae at least.

      I gotta agree with both tablogloid and canadianveggie on Horwath's performance so far. Her demands are quite moderate and reasonable, and wouldn't result in a higher deficit. She's dropped the what was the dumbest demand IMHO re: the HST on home heating.

      If McGuinty is smart he'll take the deal. I'd expect both his and Horwath's numbers to improve once he does that.

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    4. South Parkdale Jack19 April, 2012 13:34

      to AS-

      That's a misguided, perceived memory spun by the CONS, and until Rae became a high ranking Liberal, by that party as well.

      The NDP tenure wasn't that bad ... Harris' was BAD, but his gets a pass as does Harper's, whose main components were salvaged from the Harris past. And now we're getting the same policies nationally that were forced on Ontario by the CONS; in particular, cutbacks in services that protect the public ... tainted drinking water supply for example.

      The CONS aren't very good "economic managers", contrary to what they spin and what is perceived and perpetuated. The Harris era was a mess; Harper's isn't really much better.

      The NDP with Rae went into the election not expecting to win. They were poorly prepared to govern; a shortage of cabinet material; some of their better members not seeking re-election. Also, they faced elements beyond their control, the recession and downloading from the federal government. So some of the lessons for Horwath and Tom Mulcair; be ready for government, present reasonable/realistic policy; run and elect credible, quality candidates, AND, counter CON spin.

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    5. Agreed with the above. I wasn't parroting Conservative spin but providing my own estimation; if it's wrong, then it's wrong. We'll see.

      The more that Horwath and the ONDP show that they can deal reasonably and seriously with the realities of (potential) governance, the better they will do in the future.

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    6. It's funny how the passage of time (and wishful thinking) have smoothed over memories of the Rae administration. Was it a "misguided, perceived memory" when Ontario voters (on both the right and left) decimated the NDP in 1995 (with what was then their worst result in terms of votes since 1963)?

      The voters must have been wrong.

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    7. It's worth recalling that when the NDP came to power in Ontario, then-Prime Minister Mulroney was touring Japan and the Asian Tigers and openly telling them NOT to invest in 'socialist' Ontario...

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    8. Carl. No arguing the results of the election, just how it arrived; spin and misrepresentation; just take Harper's spin on the F35's during the May 11th election.

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    9. Actually the federal LPC trail the federal NDP now in Ontario as well, according to the polls conducted since Mulcair was elected. Forum, Harris-Decima, Forum again, and Leger all show an NDP lead. The only other national poll that I know of, from Ipsos-Reid, has the NDP and LPC tied in Ontario.

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  3. If these wobbly polls hold, we could see a coaltion of Lib/NDP if the election topp;es on the budget vote. Besides a coaltion provincially, I would love to see a merger of the these parties at the federal level.

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    1. I wouldn't. I think Canadians are better served by having a wide choice of parties to support. The two-party system of the US doesn't seem to be working all that well for them, and I'd rather not see that emulated here.

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  4. One serious danger the NDP has is they may lose their left-wing base if they prop up their budget...union leaders are calling for them to pull the plug and have condemned the budget. Most likely they would stay home or form a new socialist party.

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    1. ... but union leaders have been heavily backing the Liberals, so where will they go?

      More likely, I think they will eventually calm down, evaluate their options, and then probably return to the status quo.

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    2. Didn't much of the "union leadership" support, directly or indirectly, the Liberals in the last election?

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  5. I am assuming Hamilton is included in the "905" in the Forum Research poll. I doubt the NDP would poll at 35% when only York, Peel, Halton and Durham regions are included.

    On another note, I think Dalton McGuinty should resign by the end of this year. Once the Liberals elect a new leader, I think an election should be called immediately. Ontario needs a new face in the premier's chair.

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  6. The next year or so will be a textbook case of how a centrist party can be picked apart by right and left-wing parties unless it has its act together. Moreover, a credible NDP works for both the Tories and the NDP. For the NDP, center-left voters who might once have voted for the Liberals on the theory that they, unlike the NDP, can win, might now shift to the NDP as the "only party that can stop the Tories". At the same time, the Tories can play the same game "only we can keep the NDP out of power).

    But I wouldn't be too fussed about Labour throwing the NDP under the bus. First, because the NDP doesn't actually need to vote for the budget - it 'll pass if they just sit on their hands or have some convenience "absences". Second, because public sector unions are so pissed that the Liberals, they aren't going to be all that fussed about what the NDP does.

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  7. I may be biased in this statement, but I think Andrea Horwath is in an excellent position to win the next election. The economic issues Ontario is facing will obviously be blamed on the government of the day. Therefor Andrea will continue to support them wisely, getting concessions while relishing their low popularity. Also, growing discontent with the federal conservatives could influence PC voters against Hudak. The NDP just needs to hold out until the Liberals do the dirty work of balancing the budget, and for Harper to continue to sink in the polls.
    -Taylor

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  8. No coalition because McGuinity would resign.

    Liberals would be in a leadership race with a number of MPPs criss crossing the province.

    In a minority we'd have Hudak getting a free pass for two years as the Liberals would just abstain from everything.

    Think back to the Harper minority in '06.

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  9. The rumours of Dalton McGuinty's impending demise are greatly exaggerated. It's funny how quickly people forget how much polls shift during campaigns. Obviously these aren't the greatest poll numbers, but no reason for the Ontario Liberals to panic either. Things looked far worse this time last year.

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    1. It looked bad last year, but the Liberals weren't in third place. That's the difference -- and it means they have to leapfrog not one but two opponents who both have momentum.

      It can certainly be overcome but it's that much more difficult this time.

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    2. They weren't in third last year.
      -Taylor

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    3. This time last year there was a guaranteed six months or so until the election. Right now it could be six weeks.

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    4. Yeah, but things are a bit different now. This time last year, the Liberals could put off hard decision for a year in the hopes that they'd win a majority and have a free hand for four more years (recall the secret deals with public sector unions for pay raises after the election - there's a reason the teachers and others are feelng betrayed, they invested heavily in the McGuinty government). Now, those hard decisions are coming due, and without a majority, the Liberals are in an exceptionally vulnerable situation. And time isn't on their side, the reality is that governments get tired, and hair starts to stick to them.

      As you say, polls shift during elections, but as we've seen in Alberta, that applies equally to governments whose numbers can fall off the table in the course of a couple of weeks.

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    5. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/adam-radwanski/ontario-pcs-ill-equipped-for-potential-spring-vote/article2408211/

      Liberals ahead by 3, NDP in third. A bit of an outlier compared to the other polls (and Nanos is generally showing higher Liberal numbers than others federally these days), but Nanos has an excellent track record as a pollster.

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  10. I wonder to what extent Horwath's poll numbers are tied to her public show of compromise in the name of avoiding the election? It seems to me, if there is an election, there is a serious risk of that goodwill disappearing. Her concession today on the HST goes a long way to mitigating against that possibility...

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    1. Agreed, there can't be an election now. And I suspect that neither the NDP nor the Tories are particularly keen on one. Apart from the fact that both still have debts to clean up and houses to put back in order, I suspect both would rather the Liberals spend the next year or so doing some of the dirty work (freezing public sector workers salaries, legislating teachers back to work, trying to get started on balancing the budget, etc.) that'll make life easier for a future NDP or Tory government (all the while criticizing them for their perceived failures).

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  11. I wonder what the reaction would be if a Party Leader was brutally honest with the people of Ontario.

    Here's my spiel:

    We are deeply in debt and need to stop adding to the debt as soon as possible. In order to accomplish that goal if elected with a majority government here is the basic outline of what we will do.

    All wages of public servants employed either directly or indirectly will be frozen for a period of three years. If necessary we will use the not withstanding clause to enforce such legislation. Those employees who have a grid will continue to move along the grid as they normally would.

    Junior kindergarten and full day kindergarten will be scrapped as of September 1, 2012. Not only will this result in the layoff of teachers but it will significantly reduce capital costs as school expansions to accommodate the extra students will not be required. Class sizes in the primary grades will increase to where they where when the current government took office. Teachers will no longer be able to use accumulated sick days to receive up to half a years salary when they retire. This change will be grandfathered.

    All other employees shall be treated in the same manner as teachers as regards retirement or termination amounts.

    Employee pension plans will continue to be funded on a fifty/fifty basis. If the plans do not currently require this ratio of contribution by employees they will. Further since the solvency of the current pension plans has been adversely affected by the artificially low interest rate of today, no action will be taken to address pension shortfalls for a period not to exceed 6 years.

    Spending on infrastructure of all kinds will be postponed for not less than two years, except where absolutely necessary.

    The civil service will be reduced by 5% ASAP. Most if not all cuts will be made to management positions. The recommendations of the Drummond report will be enacted.

    The 10% Hydro rebate will be cancelled. The McGuinty government's green program will be end immediately. All contracts with with current green energy providers will be reviewed and cancelled where legally possible. Where it makes economic sense the government will, if possible, negotiate an end to those remaining contracts. Where the contracts do not provide for cancellation and negotiations are not possible, counter parties will be put on notice that the contracts will not be renewed. Every attempt will be made to REDUCE Ontario's power prices. For decades industry located in Ontario because cheap, reliable, energy prices. We hope to return this inherent advantage to Ontario business and consumers.

    Income taxes will rise by one percentage point in all brackets effective September 1, 2012. Surtaxes will be imposed on those earning more than $100,000. All tax increases will be reviewed in three years. A return to current rates of taxation when fiscally possible will be a priority of this government.

    It is the hope of this Party that through these and other changes that the government of Ontario will produce a balanced budget in three years.

    These are dramatic actions that desperately need to be taken now. Ontario CAN NOT continue to accumulate debt. Nor can Ontario solve the debt crisis without cutting programs. The next few years will pose great difficulty for every citizen of Ontario but every citizen is asked to contribute in cleaning up what is an unsustainable mess.

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  12. Earl, tax the wealthy and corporations and stop picking on kids, the poor and workers. Ok?

    Arthur Cramer

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    1. sigh, corporations don't pay tax. You do when you buy stuff from them.

      Raise it to 100% why don't you. All that will happen is that your costs to live will go up as they raise prices to compensate for the loss. ... and way up as they move to other more tax friendly jurisdictions and you have to pay to ship the goods that used to be made in your backyard.

      Then you can enjoy the higher personal taxes as your neighbors move away with the work and you are left trying to sustain all the infrastructure.


      I love it Art. I would love Ontario to do it, it would be a boon for usin Sask.

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  13. Shocker for me in these results is NDP showing in 905 region. This is Terra Incogneto for them.

    JKennethY

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    1. They did win a Brampton riding last time around.

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    2. I'm pretty sure Hamilton is getting rolled in with the 905, which would explain those numbers.

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    3. One would expect that Hamilton (and I suspect Niagara as well) alone wouldn't be enough to make NDP numbers appear that high in the non-416 GTA, unless the NDP was already doing quite well there. That, or the NDP is polling at 80% in Hamilton-Niagara, because that's the only way the numbers could be skewed that much if they weren't leading everywhere else.

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