Wednesday, June 20, 2012

PC lead widens as Horwath approval slips

Forum has been furiously polling the good people of Ontario of late, having conducted one federal and two provincial polls since June 4. Their timing, as always, is good - it only became clear yesterday that Ontario would not be headed to a snap election in July. But the happenings in Queen's Park, though they have appeared to have little real effect on voting intentions, have pushed down Andrea Horwath's approval ratings significantly.
Forum was last in the field on June 4, shortly before talk of a summer election picked up. Since then, the Progressive Conservatives have gained two points and now lead with 38% support, putting them eight points up on the New Democrats, who are unchanged at 30%.

The Liberals, however, are down two points to 26%. The Greens sit at 5% support province-wide in this one-day IVR poll.

Though Environics recently pegged Liberal support as low as 25%, this is the lowest that Forum has registered the Liberals since June 2011. This was when the party was polling well behind the Tories and were on track to be defeated in the October election. It did not quite turn out that way, but the big difference is that in the 2011 poll the New Democrats were at 22%, four points behind the Liberals instead of four points ahead.

The Liberal slip is not contained in any one part of the province, as the party is down everywhere except eastern and northern Ontario, where they are up one and four points, respectively, on small sample sizes.

The Tories are ahead in eastern Ontario with 49%, unchanged since June 4, putting them well ahead of both the Liberals (24%) and the NDP (18%, -8). The PCs also lead in the 905 area code around Toronto with 41% support, while the NDP trails with 28% (+1) and the Liberals with 26% (-3). In northern Ontario, the Tories are narrowly ahead with 35% (+6) to 30% for the NDP (-9) and 24% for the Liberals.

How Forum defines northern Ontario, however, could be significant. Some firms have that region stretch all the way down to Lake Simcoe, while others cut it off much further north. That area of divergence is the strongest "northern" part of the province for the PCs. I have inquired as to Forum's definitions.

The New Democrats only lead in southwestern Ontario, where they have 38% support (+5) to the Tories' 37% (+1). The Liberals are not a factor in that part of the province with only 19% support (-6).

They are a factor in the 416 area code of Toronto, where they still lead with 36% support. But that is down five points since June 4, and with a three point gain the NDP is not far behind at 33%. The Tories are up one to 25%, their weakest result in Ontario.

With these numbers, the Progressive Conservatives manage to win a majority of Ontario's seats. They would win 61, while the New Democrats form the Official Opposition with 30 seats. The Liberals are reduced to only 16 seats in the legislature.

The Tories win 11 seats in eastern Ontario, 10 in central Ontario, 13 in the GTA, three in Toronto, six in Hamilton/Niagara, 16 in southwestern Ontario, and two in northern Ontario.

The New Democrats win one seat in eastern and central Ontario each, two in the GTA, nine in Toronto, four in Hamilton/Niagara, five in southwestern Ontario, and eight in the north.

The Liberals win two seats in eastern Ontario, three in the GTA, 10 in Toronto, and one in northern Ontario.

Note that, with this poll added to the By-Election Barometer, Kitchener-Waterloo is now considered a "Strong PC". Also, federal numbers in the Forum poll have put Etobicoke Centre down a notch to "Lean Liberal".

Part of the reason for the Liberals' struggles in Ontario is Dalton McGuinty, who has an approval rating of only 28%. His disapproval rating stands at 61%. Both of those numbers are virtually unchanged since June 4.

But Tim Hudak does not do much better. With his numbers also holding relatively steady, his approval is worse than McGuinty's at 25%, but his disapproval is lower at 49%. Interestingly, while McGuinty and Horwath score over 70% approval among their own party supporters, Tim Hudak manages only 49% approval among PC voters.

However, McGuinty and Hudak seem to have not been hurt by the last few weeks of grandstanding at Queen's Park. Andrea Horwath, on the other hand, is seeing her sparkling approval ratings slip. Though she still has a net positive score, her approval rating has dropped from 47% to only 39%. Her disapproval rating is up from 26% to 35%. These are significant shifts, particularly in the context of McGuinty and Hudak holding steady. While the New Democrats themselves are unchanged in voting intentions, this whittling down of Horwath's personal numbers evens the playing field somewhat. But it also speaks to how disillusioned Ontarians seem to be with their political leaders.

26 comments:

  1. I've said it before and I'll stick by it !!

    Hudak can't win. The public is Not that stupid !!

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    1. No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken.

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  2. I actually took the trouble to look at the full tables from Forum for leader approvals comparing their poll of almost three weeks ago with one just published. I found that Andrea Horwath's drop in approval is 100% explained by LIBERAL voters (all 26% of them) shifting from approving of her three weeks ago to disapproving of her now. Her almost unanimous approval from NDP voters is unchanged and she still has respectable numbers among PC voters (not that it matters). In other words, Liberal voters approved of Horwath as long as she was seen to be meekly propping up McGuinty and "knew her place". Now, she's driving a hard bargain and extracting more concessions so the Liberal "base" doesn't like her so much anymore. If I was Andrea Horwath - my reaction to that would be "CRY ME A RIVER"! What does she care if the Liberal base doesn't like her? its not as if she's likely to be able to drive the liberal vote much lower than 26% even in a best case scenario!

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    1. That would seem to suggest her formerly high approval ratings were artificial.

      I don't think things can be made as simple as that. Voters move around from party to party, so the people who said they supported the Liberals a few weeks ago may not be Liberal supporters anymore.

      And of course, when she was at 47% and her party was at 30%, she was getting good marks from people outside the party. That is just how it works. If Horwath's approval rating fell only among NDP supporters, that would be horrific for her.

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  3. What would be bad would be to have approval of the leader drop and for that to lead to a serious drop in intention to vote...but NDP support was 30% in both polls - so it seems to me that all that has happened is that Horwath's approval numbers have declined among people who were never going to vote NDP in the first place. I'm sure she can live with that.

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    1. Horwath won't be winning any election at 30% support. How supporters of other parties feel about her is absolutely important if she is thinking about becoming Premier one day. It appears her growth potential has taken a big hit.

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  4. I am going to be interested to see how Horwath's approval numbers change once we get a few weeks out from this crisis. I would bet that a lot of this fades over the summer. The G&M and the Toronto Star have been running a fairly continuous stream of stories about how terrible and awful Andrea Horwath is for "not keeping her word", and basically just repeating Dwight Duncan's talking points.

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    1. THIS. I mentioned on one of Horwath's facebook posts that she does not need to let the Liberals take control of the public discussion... but unfortunately, this was just too difficult to do apparently.

      Hopefully if the NDP does make it to opposition status, at least, this will allow for some time for the NDP to grow. Although I despise the Tories, perhaps in Ontario, a PC minority government, NDP opposition, and LIB third party is just what Ontario needs at this moment to wake up.

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  5. Another interesting tidbit in that poll was that 50% of PC and NDP supporters described themselves as "very enthusiastic" about voting for their party...only 26% of Liberals are "very enthusiastic". 26% of 26% is about 6% of the electorate - so in other words the only people in Ontario who are enthusiastic supporters of Dalton McGuinty are the McGuinty family (he has 9 siblings), the 53 Liberal MPPs and all their staffers - and that's about it!

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    1. Is that all that surprising though? Moderate parties are never going to elicit the same emotional response as parties on either end of the political spectrum.

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    2. I wouldn't be so sure of that. Before Sponsorship unfolded, Paul Martin was sitting at 50%+ in the polls, for example

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    3. I think you may be missing my point Cali...

      You can support parties or people for reasons that aren't tied to emotion...

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  6. Dr Bozinoff gets it right though when he says support for the PCs is soft. An election campaign could easily swing in any direction and most undecided voters are just parking their votes with the PCs as they have been relatively quiet at Queen's Park.

    Also, the fact that approval ratings for Andrea Horwath have dropped because of more Liberal supporters disapproving of her indicates that the NDP might not have much room to grow.

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    1. At a sky high 30% the Ontario NDP doesn't need to grow as much as it needs to consolidate and lock in those gains.

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    2. That's setting the NDP's sights awfully low.

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    3. I agree, Ryan. Except in the most unusual cases, 30% doesn't win elections. The only way 30% becomes viable is if the Greens manage to get into the 15-20% range without taking any votes from the NDP.

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  7. I doubt anybody really expected that Ontario would have a summer election. This was just last minute noise from Queen's Park, before everybody tunes out till September.

    Right now most polls show the Tories with a notable lead. But banking on 34-38% of support is not enough, especially since their leader is more of a liability than an asset. But due to the strong, but not strong enough NDP, the Tories can win a majority with as less as 35% of the vote...

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  8. Couple of small points here.

    Firstly McGuinty is almost as Teflon coated as Charest !!

    Second the prov PC's have nothing out there in the way of programs or ideas. Their major stand is against anything the Libs want to do !! Not a winner IMO

    Plus Ontario has been badly hurt by the Dutch Disease and knows it !! So the tie to the CPC doesn't do much good.

    My guess would be a Fall election at the earliest but more likely early next Spring ?

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    1. What ties to the CPC, there is no connection between the CPC and the PC of Ontario

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    2. "there is no connection between the CPC and the PC of Ontario "

      What universe do you live in ?? There is of course ties. Look at people like Baird, elected in Ont and obviously in tight with the Provincial party !! "Sheesh !!

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  9. Flaherty, Baird and Clement all seemlessly went from being Ontario PC to federal CPC cabinet ministers - those parties are 100% joined at the hip.

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    1. Thanks DL. That's good proof IMO

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    2. Tony Clement's transition was not exactly seemsless. He hilariously lost both the 2003 provincial election in Brampton-South and the 2004 federal election in Brampton West.

      He was, though, the founding president of the Canadian Alliance

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    3. If the Liberals are in third place in the polls, why did McGuinty threaten to call an election? Originally McGuinty said that he would call an election unless all the deleted sections in the budget bill were restored in their original form. That didn't happen but McGuinty didn't call an election. If the Liberals are third in the polls why did they even contemplate solving the budget bill conflict with an election? Given that it turned out they could pass the budget with deleted sections of the bill, why did they ever threaten an election to begin with? Anyone have any ideas?

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    4. Because that's really the only hammer the Liberals had. Just like the opposition's leverage is to force an election, the government's leverage is to call one.

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  10. As for the Northern Ontario definition, a good line should be Parry Sound-Muskoka and everything north of there. Pollsters should go with that for consistency.

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