Friday, September 28, 2012

Is McGuinty's support collapsing?

A new poll was released by Forum Research yesterday for the Toronto Star, suggesting that the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are in a close race in Ontario. That leaves Dalton McGuinty's Liberals on the sidelines with only 1 in 5 support.
Forum was last in the field in Ontario in a poll released to a media outlet (there was a poll for a consultancy out earlier this month) on Aug. 15, and since then the Tories slipped one point to 37%. The New Democrats, however, were up seven points to 35%. The Liberals were down seven points to only 20%, while the Greens were up one to 7%.

Now, Ontario has been a very confusing province when it comes to polling. Forum is recording a huge shift in support, which is not implausible considering the difficult headlines for the McGuinty government of late. But the other firm active in Ontario, Nanos Research, has been consistently at odds with what Forum has reported. Will the next poll from Nanos show these sort of stellar NDP gains?

The gains and losses for the NDP and Liberals are statistically significant, with the most important shifts in support having taken place in the Greater Toronto Area. There, the Liberals fell 10 points to 20%, with the NDP gaining seven to hit 34%. In the 416 area code, the Liberals were down 15 points to only 22%.

Everywhere in Ontario, the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats were either tied (southwestern Ontario) or held insignificant leads over the other party (the Tories in eastern Ontario, the 905 area code, and northern Ontario, the NDP in the 416 area code). It would make for a very close election result, with the Liberals shunted off to the side.
And dramatically so. With no pocket of regional strength, the Liberals could only hope to hold on to a handful of seats. The projection model gives them only three, all in Toronto. The Progressive Conservatives win a majority government of 64 seats while the New Democrats win 40.

That two-point edge is rather decisive for the Tories, as the NDP vote in Ontario is pretty inefficient. But the degree of inefficiency that Forum assigns to them is a little ridiculous. Forum's seat projection model would award the Tories 60 seats, the NDP 24, and the Liberals 23. With their own regional results showing the Liberals with no regional concentration of support, it makes very little sense that Forum's model would still give the Liberals that many seats. If the Liberals still had a lot of support in Toronto but had dropped everywhere else, then the sort of result envisioned by Forum could be possible. But with only 22% support in their best region of the province, it just wouldn't happen.

According to Forum, Dalton McGuinty's personal numbers have collapsed. He used to enjoy better approval ratings than the unloved Tim Hudak, but no more. His approval rating dropped nine points to only 20% and his disapproval increased by seven points to 67%. Even among the dwindling number of Liberal supporters his numbers have dropped by six points to 71% approval.

That is not to say that Hudak has taken advantage of this. His numbers have held relatively steady, with an approval rating of 26% and a disapproval rating of 49%. The biggest shift came among PC voters - his approval rating was down five points to only 48% among his party's supporters.

Andrea Horwath's numbers were also rather static, with her approval rating registering 48% and her disapproval rating dropping four points to 23%. Both Hudak and Horwath's net ratings improved slightly (the gap between approval and disapproval shrunk by three points for Hudak, and increased by six points for Horwath), but this seems to be a case of Ontarians turning against McGuinty rather than towards another party or leader.

But as has been the case in the past, it is difficult to know what to believe with this poll. It would not shock me in the slightest if Nanos Research released a new poll showing the New Democrats with less than 25% support and the Liberals and Tories still in a close race. The increase in NDP support has not been replicated at the federal level either, with the exception of a new poll by Environics. Aside from their results, the NDP is still hovering around 30% in the province (including in the most recent federal Forum poll) and hasn't experienced any sort of dramatic leap.

Ontario remains a province to keep a close eye on, but the trends are not exactly clear. The New Democrats have had a good month with their by-election win in Kitchener-Waterloo and the Tories might be benefiting from the Liberals' discomfiture by keeping their heads down. If numbers like these are confirmed in the coming months, the opposition parties might be more emboldened to take the government down in the spring. But the result of such an election could be a surprise.

45 comments:

  1. The Liberals are done for. No government survives by telling the people that their wages and social programs will be cut so that we can pay for deficit caused by low corporate tax rates and the bailout of the financial and auto sectors. Conservative voters are not motivated to turn out at the polls in start contrast to the mobilized NDP voter. Look for an NDP minority in the Spring.

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    1. Ontario did not participate in the bailout of the financial sector. The Department of Finance in Ottawa through the Bank of Canada extended liquidity to a number of banks but, Ontario had no authority over such matters nor did it advance funding.

      Ontario did participate in the auto bailout. I do not recall the exact amount but, think it was in the $10B range. A good portion of the money has been recovered by selling stocks and by the auto makers themselves retiring loans ahead of schedule.

      As a New Democrat you should be pleased McGuinty supported the auto makers. Tens of thousands of your union brothers and sisters would be forced to go on the dole had the bailout not proceeded. How many millions would the NDP have lost in unrealised donations from the unions?

      Believe me if it is a race between the NDP and Tories in the next election Conservative voters will become motivated!

      $$$

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    2. Anonymous 13:18, the NDP would have lost precisely $0 in "unrealized donations from unions". Union donations are illegal under the campaign finance rules.

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    3. TS:

      According to Elections Ontario there are 3 types of eligible contributors:

      · Individuals who are Ontario residents;

      · Corporations carrying on business in Ontario that are not registered charities; and

      · Labour councils and trade unions with bargaining rights for employees in Ontario

      How many millions was that again not to mention union "volunteers"?

      http://www.elections.on.ca/en-CA/FAQs/ElectionFinances.htm#eligible

      $$$

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    4. What's with the scare-quotes around volunteers? Unions can't compel people to volunteer for the NDP. It simply doesn't happen. Get a grip.

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    5. I imply they are "volunteering" while getting paid for union work.

      They're just quotation marks. Maybe you are scared by punctuation but, most of us know their use(s).

      The fact you find so many conspiracy theories amongst mere prose leads me to ask you to follow your own advise; "get a grip"!

      $$$

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  2. The polling is getting really aggravatingly hard to put into a coherent picture. As a New Democrat, I like the new Environics and Forum polls, but things are making steadily less sense. In what possible world does the FNDP lead in Ontario and trail in BC? The ridiculous way the provincial polls are behaving in Ontario is another facet of this.

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    1. I had the same sentiment.
      Very confusing to me as well. We'll just have to see what the next poll tells us.

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  3. You mean 1/5, not 1 in 5. Pick 5 in Sudbury or Hamilton and you'll get proved wrong most likely.

    Chuck

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    1. 1 in 5 or 1/5 are different ways of saying the same thing. Both are expressions meaning 20%. 1 in 5 is therefore a perfectly valid way of expressing the fact that the poll found 20% support for the Liberals.

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  4. This is Hudak's chance. Now he just needs to vote against the Liberals on every bill and we will eventually get an election.

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  5. A lot of volatility in the Ontario electorate, provincially and federally.Provincially you could see anything from a Con Majority to an NDO minority. The only thing you won't see is a Liberal government of any stripe. OLP is dead in the water.

    JKennethY

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  6. I'm looking forward to increasingly incoherent federal polls as the Liberal leadership race progresses.

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  7. Prediction:

    Something like this is the actual case in Ontario (with the Liberals in a distant third behind a leading PC and opposition NDP party).

    Within the next year, the election will be called with Hudak/PCs leading in the polls.

    Hudak will find a way to screw it up again, and the NDP will become a minority government.

    Liberals will be annihilated.

    Hilarity ensues.

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    1. Yeah I'm going to agree with you on that one. Hudak is a fairly incompetent leader, unexciting and loosing momentum as McGuinty 's real opposition. McGuinty himself is about to be as popular as Rae circa 93.
      -Taylor

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    2. I don't think the NDP will form a minority government. Just as much as Ontario remembers Harris, Ontario also remembers Rae. The NDP also don't have good organizations like the PCs and the Liberals, their support is soft and not as motivated as the PCs. I think the PCs are going to form the government in the next election.

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  8. Eric,

    In the "North" The Forum poll has the PCs at 40%, NDP 37% and Libs 17%. Yet you give the Tories only 2 seats while the NDP gets 9. Is there a reason for this seeming discordance?

    Thanks,

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    1. The model is not regionally based (yet), only province-wide. So that is the main reason why there is a difference, the projection is based only on the province-wide numbers.

      But it is worth noting that the "north" for Forum seems to stretch all the way down to around Lake Simcoe, which is a more conservative region.

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    2. Thanks Eric,

      I thought Forum may have used some interesting geographic terms.

      Best wishes,

      Derek

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  9. The Liberal brand is in decline these days and this situation is worsened by the fact that the federal Liberals are in third and many of the provincial Liberal governments are terribly unpopular. Provincial Liberal parties are third in four provinces (AB, SK, MB, NL) + Yukon, recently kicked out of Québec, leaderless in NB, destined to be kicked out of BC and Ontario, and losing support in PEI (though at a much lesser degree). The only saving grace for the Liberals in Canada is the leadership race next spring and the fact that the NS Liberals are leading in voting intentions.

    McGuinty really nailed his party's defeat with this wage freeze bill even though any other party put in this situation would do exactly the same thing. The NDP would say that they would revoke this bill, but the last time they were in government, they realized that their spending plan would bankrupt the province. They had to bring in tough measures to keep the fiscal house in order. But Ontarians are pretty smart to know that everyone hates austerity but at least McGuinty had the guts to take on the public sector.

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    1. For most governments, having "the guts to take on the public sector" means 'weathering the storm' of accolades from the mainstream media and business while waving a hand dismissively at public service unions and their supporters. Eventually citizens' outrage at successive cuts to (taxpayer paid) public services and jobs puts premiers in the tricky position of either shaking off their corporate mentors or bringing in greater force against the public. Most, like Charest, choose the latter option - holding steadfast to their pro-corporate, anti-public policies and turning the screw on the public they plainly disregard. See where it got him? McGuinty looks like he's learned nothing from the example of the Quebec Liberals. And he doesn't appear to be alone in that miscalculation. (Though in other years, they all might have gotten away with this approach).

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    2. Anon, using provincial politics to judge the Liberal movement as a whole is not right. When the Liberals were elected federally in 1993, they don't have any provincial government in BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, or QC, but yet they were elected anyway. Also, the Liberals in SK and MB were never in first or second place for decades, so it's wrong to attribute their position to a recent Liberal decline. In the case of Alberta, if you count the PCs and Wildrose as one conservative party, then the Liberals are still in second place.

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    3. The NDP was not going to bankrupt the province in the early 1990s. There are a lot of myths persisting about how bad the Ontario budget was in that period; myths that were born of the mainstream media and the powerful Ontario business lobby.

      That said, the Social Contract and budget cuts was a huge mistake. It completely fragmented their base, from organized labour to the huge sections of the population committed to further expanding the welfare state - which was still widely regarded as something worth doing. Ontarians had not yet fully internalized the politics of austerity, market discipline and neoliberal ideology generally which is why Rae was tossed out so harshly and why the social protests against Harris's first term were so massive and while ultimately defeated, did blunt Harris's reforms.

      There are alternatives to austerity that have to be explored because the austerity agenda being peddled today, as it was back in the 1990s under Harris (and in a reactionary way from Rae) was to pander to the interests of business. The state as an actor in the economy has been abandoned not because it has failed, but because the ideology of market discipline has become so entrenched since the successful ideological wars of Harris, Klein, the federal 1995 budget, etc that accompanied their fiscal austerity, cutbacks to social programs, and pro-business reforms to labour rights. It has seen a widening of income inequality and not solved social and economic problems. New alternatives to austerity are needed and aspects of state intervention have to be revisited.

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    4. The Grits are the Official Opposition in Newfoundland not the third party (NDP)!

      The Liberals were one of two dominant parties in MB from 1915-1958 but, for most of that time were a coalition between Liberals and Progressives.

      In Saskatchewan the Liberals were the dominant party from 1905-1944 then 1964-1971.

      Are these signs of a broader Liberal decline? Perhaps but, then it would be wise to remember the NDP/CCF in BC has only been in office 12 years out of 141.

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  10. The recession is polarizing the electorate across the world. No I believe parties believe they will be supported for austerity only to find our that nobody wants their ox to be gored. 40-45% support the Liberals austerity direction but most of them are Tories, net out the Tories, there is nothing left for the Libs while the NDP runs away with the austerity opponents.

    Canadians must get used to the "other way" to balance budgets. It is called TAX INCREASES. If you want small classes full day K no fee medicare eventually you have to pay for it.

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  11. The latest poll surprisingly says that 45% support the teachers in the dispute with the government while 40% support the government. They also posit that on the government’s removal of the teachers’ right to strike 45% support the action and 45% oppose this direction.
    So if you are Dalton McGuinty or Dwight Duncan you are scratching your head saying gee whiz, 40% support the government against the teachers and 45% support the removal of the teachers’ right to strike for two years so why are we drawing only 20% support for the Liberals in the poll?
    According to the analysis of the Forum results the Liberals would elect only 3 seats, all in Toronto (416). This means McGuinty himself, if he runs again, Duncan, Bently, Mattews, and many other cabinet members are toast. Only 3 of the following, Wynne, Broton, Duguid, or Hoskins would survive. This is the type of devastation that you don’t come back from unless it is decades later.
    The answer to a political scientist or an experienced pollster is quite simple. The Tories, depending on each poll, are mid thirties in political support. Almost none of them support the teachers and almost all of them support the removal of the right to strike. Thus 35% out of the 40% that support the Liberal government’s direction are Tories leaving only 5% for the Liberals and 35% of the 45% that support suspending the right to strike are also Tories leaving only 10% for the Liberals. Given the absolutely bone-headed political stupidity of the Liberals political moves, it is surprising they can retain even 20% support.
    In the meantime, the Liberals have abandoned the progressive half of the electorate that supports the teachers and opposes the removal of the right to strike. Now the NDP can occupy that half of the electorate all by itself. The Liberals are duplicating the Kitchener-Waterloo bi-election results right across Ontario.
    When Liberals implement essentially Tory policy, Tories will cheer but they will still vote Tory in the next election. How many lessons do Bob Rae or Dalton McGuinty need to get this stuff-Remedial Political Science 101 for Dalton.

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  12. Radwanski says Don Guy will tell Liberals at convention that they have a plan to replace all the construction trades, firefighters, teachers, nurses, OPSEU types, WFC gang etc with right of centre people to jam the Tories. Guess what, the Tories already have those votes locked up. Will the last Liberal please turn off the lights.

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  14. Why would anybody think they couls support McSquinty ??

    Ye Gods !!

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    1. Well, for one he is a very good speller!

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  15. If you want to see the "split" wait a bit.

    Despite what the ONT polls have been saying the chance of a Hudak Govt is approximately 0!!

    Forget it PC's, ain't gonna happen !!

    Everybody remembers Harris !!

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    1. It's time for Hudak to step down. If the PCs really want to win, then they should elect a more moderate leader.

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  16. Wow. The McGuinty Liberal numbers have never been this low. They have angered the left, right and centre. They have angered their socially progressive, fiscally moderate base.

    If the trend continues the only Liberals that would survive are popular consistency MPPs in traditional strongholds.

    Now the question is if McGuinty can pull another upset and win his fourth election. Imagine if he comes back from all this and returns to a majority?

    It seems like the Tories are relatively steady in their support and most of the Liberal bleeding is going to the NDP. If Horwath wants to retain this type of support her party needs to recruit quality cabinet material candidates.

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  17. Methink the Liberals need to get a new leader that is able to walk the tricky "socially progressive & fiscally conservative" voters, & do so without risking an election.

    Maybe Gerald Kennedy should return to Provincial politic, considering the fact that Trudeau is running, & Trudeau supported him, so it is expected that he return the favour. He lost his federal riding to Peggy Nash too (progressives' heart bleed everytime they see these two face off against each other), so continuing federal activity will be hard anyway. He was leading in the leadership race all the way until the last round. Progressives love him too, so maybe he can handle it.

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    1. The problem with that is the Liberals don't have time for a leadership election. Their government is already so unstable, and having a leadership race will destabilize their government even further, not to mention the amount of infighting that it could create. I think all this is just a repeat of what happened to the Martin federal government in 2006. I don't think this Liberal government can last much longer.

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  18. NDP minority? Not going to happen. Unless the Greens rise into territory where they win seats, it will either be a PC majority or NDP majority, since the Liberals would likely have ZERO seats.

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    1. The NDP has a great chance of winning a minority. I could see them comfortably retaining all eighteen seats they currently hold. With polls in the mid 30s, they will no doubt make significant gains in SW Ontario and 416 area, and sweep most of the North.

      They can probably pick up a couple of ridings in the 905 and Eastern Ottawa. But these two regions will be the toughest.

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    2. That would either be an NDP majority, or a very large Official Opposition caucus with a PC majority. Minorities don't happen easily in a two-party Legislature unless they are virtually tied.

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  19. If I were an ONDPer or even an OPCer, I'd avoid an election like the plague. Nothing in my view would be worse then taking office at the beginning of a recession that a provincial government has little means of correcting: Double austerity both provincially and federally (and could get worse), a Toronto housing bubble begging to be popped, and a weak manufacturing base with an uncompetitive, overvalued currency whose main trading neighbor (America) is still stuck in the doldrums. Thus if an election is held next year, whoever wins will be left holding the bag. Andrea Horwath, if she decides to replace short-term ambition with long-term strategy, would be best to keep this Liberal government alive (or convince Hudak to do that dirty work for her), or even to throw a new election to a PC minority. No Premier will want to be put in the same position of Rae Days' austerity (well, Hudak may embrace austerity, but the voters would give him a nice backlash).

    So, that's something to keep in mind for ONDP and OPC strategists. Let Dalton fall on his own sword for a little bit longer.

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    1. Toronto is not undergoing a "housing bubble" as the population is increasing approximately 25,000/year compared to 75,000/year in the GTA, and housing is cheaper in Toronto compared to other "world-class" cities. The provincial government can, and should, eliminate its subsidies: Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, northern Ontario energy tax credit, northern tax credit, Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, Jobs and Prosperity Fund, religion (exempt from corporate income, property and parsonage taxes, tax deductibility of contributions, preferential sales tax treatment, private religious schools not required to pay property taxes), Catholic public school boards, northern Ontario industrial electricity rate, etc.

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    2. London, U.K. is generally thought to have some of the highest house prices in the world. During the last recession (still on-going in the U.K.) prices declined roughly 10% and have mostly recovered.

      England was hit far harder than Canada during the recession and London took a particularly nasty dive due to the large financial sector-so why the relatively small decline (not to mention the on-going euro crisis)? Simple, most people who own real estate are in for the long term, they don't need to sell tomorrow or even next year-if they don't like the potential price they'll hold onto their property thereby reducing supply.

      Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax all arguably are over-valued to some degree (especially in Alberta where for all intents and purposes have a inexhaustable supply of land almost without restrictions), the question is by how much?

      As Danny points out the GTA and Toronto have roughly a 1% growth rate per year, ceteris paribus Toronto house prices should rise 1% (which must be said is below inflation). Could sectors be hit harder than others yes, new homes often do worse in tough times but, with interst rates so low this has been tempered.

      Prices may fall in Canada but, are likely to do so on a gradual basis as the American dollar recovers vis a vis other currencies thereby making Canadian real estate less attractive over a period of many years.

      Can we call a 10% or even 20% over-valuation a bubble? Perhaps but, it could simply be a natural trading zone. In any case over the short-medium term the "bubble" is unlikely to burst due to the new rounds of quantitative easing and a committment to keep interest rates low until 2015 by Bernake. The effect will be to lower the US$ vis a vis other currencies (which is the macroeconomic policy of the US). The US executes a low dollar policy 1. to make its exports more attractive and 2. in order to devalue/ put pressure on the Chines yuan which is pegged to the dollar. The US would like the yuan to rise in value to make Chinese imports less attractive to countires.

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    3. There does not need to be an overabundance of building housing spaces for there to be a housing bubble, or more accurately, a housing asset price bubble. In the US's famous housing bubble, home construction only began to increase above the trend in 2003-2006, and has crashed to the point that today there's a housing shortage of new homes, whereas the the asset price bubble actually began in 1997-98. The UK is undergoing a housing (asset price) bubble right now despite a shortage of actual houses. And just because Toronto is cheaper than other world class cities does not mean those cities aren't bubblicious either. Here's an interesting article: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/07/25/canadian-housing-looks-to-be-in-soft-landing-but-actually-heading-for-25-crash-capital-economics/

      Ontario can eliminate those subsidies, but the cancellation of those subsidies may (or may not - subsidies mostly deal with the supply side of the equation) lay off more workers, outsource, go out of business or raise prices, all of which take income out of workers or consumers that could have been spent on something else. All of those actions are contractionary to the broader economy. Add in austerity with the federal government...

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  20. Éric- With all of the criticism of polling as of late, I thought you might enjoy seeing a polling firm showing a sense of humour:

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/FloridaUNSKEWEDResults.pdf

    ;)

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  21. The problem as I see it is the only real alternative to McGuinty(sorry NDP) is Hudak. Perhaps the NDP would have a shot after a Hudak minority or majority but how many people want to go through several years of Hudak especially in all likelihood several years post spring 2013 to get an true Orange NDP government.

    Much of Horwath's popularity within the NDP is she rejects the ideological sellout of the Rae era social contract however what good can she do for the party members if she can't stop todays social contract under McGuinty or Hudak. Additionally to the extent that private sector unions still have influence I suspect many would prefer McGuinty compared to Hudak right to work policies.

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  22. I can't understand why people use this spot to take partisan shots at each other. We should all be here trying to make sense of the numbers rather than attempting to conver each other. That ain't going to happen.

    DL

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