Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PCs in majority territory

A new poll by Angus-Reid released by the Toronto Star on the weekend serves to confirm the sort of race that some other polls have pointed to in Ontario - that the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are first and second in the province and that the Liberals trail in third. But the Tories' position at the top of the table is not as solid as it may appear.
This survey from Angus-Reid is the first from the polling firm since the October 2011 election, so it is impossible to discern any trends from the numbers. But they do seem to fall on the side of Forum and Environics, which have shown the Liberals in third in recent polls, rather than on the side of Nanos, which has seen the race as one between the Tories and the Liberals.

Angus-Reid found that the Progressive Conservatives were in front with 36% support, trailed by the New Democrats at 32%. The Liberals were in third were 26%, while the Greens had 5% support.

Angus-Reid's regionals are generally what you would expect with these numbers. The PCs were in front in eastern Ontario with 50%, in southwestern Ontario with 40%, and in the 905 Area Code around Toronto with 40%. The New Democrats were in front with 50% in northern Ontario and 45% in the Hamilton and Niagara region, while the Liberals had a narrow edge over the NDP in the 416 Area Code (Toronto itself) with 38%.

This gives each party some pockets of support, more or less in line with where each party was strongest in the 2011 provincial election. But the poll suggests that it is among women that the next election could be won or lost: while men preferred the Tories by a margin of 40% to 32% for the NDP and 22% for the Liberals, women were split three-ways. The New Democrats had the tiniest of edges with 32% support to 31% for the PCs and 30% for the Liberals.
The seat projection model for Ontario is still a province-wide swing model, so the regional numbers are not taken into account. But with the exception of the Hamilton/Niagara region, where the NDP would likely win a few more seats, the regional breakdown is likely unaffected.

With these numbers, the Progressive Conservatives would win a majority with 56 seats, primarily won in the rural and suburban parts of the province. The New Democrats would form the Official Opposition with 33 seats, while the Liberals would win 18 seats, almost all of them in and around Toronto.

But the PCs have been on track for a majority government before, only to lose it. Tim Hudak proved to not be the kind of compelling leader the Tories needed to replace the Liberals, and the problem does not appear to have gone away. While Dalton McGuinty's personal numbers in this survey are very bad (only 23% had a positive impression of him, compared to a 63% negative impression), he is on his way out (a decision supported by 69% of the population, though 66% oppose his decision to prorogue the legislature).

Tim Hudak garners a positive impression among only 26% of Ontarians, little more than McGuinty. His negative impression stands at 44% in this poll, while 30% say they are either not sure or have no impression of him. Those are not good personal numbers for a leader whose party is ahead in the polls. Andrea Horwath's numbers are far better: 49% positive, 22% negative, and 29% no impression/not sure. (Note that the numbers for Hudak, McGuinty, and Horwath are very close to Forum's latest approval/disapproval ratings for these three leaders.)
Though this would seem to give an opportunity to the NDP, the Liberals' roster of potential successors to McGuinty does not seem to tilt things in their favour.

A huge swathe of the population has little or no impression of some of the Ontario Liberals' brightest lights, at least in terms of the upcoming leadership race. A majority of Ontarians have a positive or negative impression of only Finance Minister Dwight Duncan - all others have scores of 50% or more on the "not sure/no impression" count.

Duncan's numbers aren't terrific, with a positive score of 23% and a negative one of 33%, though that puts him relatively on par with Hudak. Health Minister Deb Matthews comes second with a positive impression from 17% of Ontarians, but at 34% she has the highest negative score of those listed Liberals. Others who score highly for negative impressions are Education Minister Laurel Broten (27%, to 11% positive) and Energy Minister Chris Bentley (29% to 11% positive).

The best net rating belongs to Kathleen Wynne, who has a positive score of 16% to a negative one of 15%. But that still leaves 68% of respondents on the table, and they could go either way.

Other leadership contenders like Charles Sousa, Eric Hoskins, Glen Murray, and Yasir Naqvi are virtual unknowns to a huge majority of Ontarians. While that does not speak to their ability to win a leadership race, it leaves a lot of room for the opposition to define them if they do come out as the winners. Unlike their federal counterparts, who in Justin Trudeau appear to have someone who could potentially turn the Liberal ship around, the Ontario Liberals apparently have no saviour, hypothetical or otherwise, waiting in the wings.

28 comments:

  1. Curious how Gerard Kennedy would stack up with the others. He doesn't carry the baggage of the last few years, and had high personal likability ratings when he ran for the Federal leadership

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    1. The poll should have added former Liberal MPPs such as Gerard Kennedy, Sandra Pupatello and George Smitherman. All three of them have been approached by party members to run for leadership and the three have left the question open.

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    2. Charles Harrison24 October, 2012 13:55

      The poll should have included every single Liberal member in Ontario who is the slightest expected to run or plans to run. It would be more accurate that way.

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  2. What's the second ONDP seat in the GTA? I assume one is Bramalea-Gore-Malton, what's the other?

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    1. Charles Harrison24 October, 2012 11:13

      I expected that one to go PC.

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    2. It probably will, if recent trends continue. Oshawa used to be a more solid NDP seat but suburbanization has made it trend more and more towards Conservative parties.

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  3. Eric, I would think those extra couple seats for the NDP in the Hamilton-Niagara region would be EXTREMELY important. Given that the PCs are projected to win only two seats more than needed for a majority, if the NDP could take three seats from the PCs in the Hamilton-Niagara region, then we are looking at a PC minority instead.

    It's rather telling for the PCs that the best they can seem to do, even against a government in the midst of several interlocking controversies, is a very slim majority.

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    1. True, but the Tories would probably win a couple seats more in the GTA at the expense of the Liberals, and maybe a couple more in Eastern Ontario, so it probably evens out.

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    2. With these kinds of numbers, is Hudak's own Niagara-region seat under threat? It is next door to Hamilton, after all.

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  4. Assuming no redistribution before the next electon perhaps the NDP could finally defeat Jerry Oulette in Oshawa. They have been lurking in St Kitts for years waiting for Bradley to go and perhaps could take out Craitor but NDP increase might give NF to PCs.

    There are only 4 seats in the peninsula outside Hamilton and Hudak is one of them.

    Scarborough below 401 could be PC/NDP fight again.

    If NDP goes up 11 seats they would be 2 in Windsor, Ottawa Centre, 2 in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, SS Marie and 3-4 in Toronto (416)

    Doug Little.

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  5. I would have liked to seen how Sandra Pupatello would have done in the leadership category, I guess there will be more polls.

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    1. Given how anxious Sandra Pupatello was to tell everyone how many people were telling her to run, I gather we will find out soon enough. :-)

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    2. I think Duncan and Pupatello will have some sort of arrangement where only one of them seeks the leadership. I doubt two veteran Liberals from Windsor would compete against each other.

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  6. Let's not forget that the ONDP just came out of nowhere to win big in Kitchener-Waterloo. If their support really does surge 10 points from 23% to 33% or more - they would probably become contenders in places like Brant, Kitchener Centre, Cambridge, a couple of the London ridings etc...

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  7. Note to readers: Angus-Reid answered my question about the missing 10 points in Andrea Horwath's positive/negative numbers. It turns out the 10 points were missing from the "not sures/no impressions", bumping up this portion from 19% to 29%. The post has been updated to reflect this information.

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  8. Charles Harrison23 October, 2012 17:00

    I think that is a set of very odd leadership statistics. The higher the like, the higher the dislike.

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    1. This is because more people are familiar with a candidate such as Dwight Duncan and Deb Matthew, as a result they are more likely to have any opinion about them.

      Other than political junkies and residents of Ottawa Center, nobody knows much about Liberal president Yasir Naqvi.

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    2. Charles Harrison24 October, 2012 13:41

      Oh. I think it's just that I'm a BCer and in BC every politician gets a net approval under 0.

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  9. Why is no one polling on Gerard Kennedy? He'd seem like a natural choice.

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  10. If I were the Liberals (I'm not) I would choose Kennedy. Their move to the right was a disaster. He might be able to mitigate the damage done with the unions but don't forget this guy is a 3 time loser. He lost to McGuinty, Dion and Peggy Nash. Di Novo is dug in so he needs to find another seat.

    My wife tells me his lack of education (no BA) rules him out. Meh.

    Doug

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    1. Charles Harrison24 October, 2012 13:47

      Actually, many of Canada's greatest and longest-serving provincial and federal heads of government such as WAC Bennett lost out a gazillion times before election. Kennedy could do it. Trust me.

      Never underestimate the ability, mind, and skill of a politician, even a widely hated one and/or one that you and I dislike.

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  11. I'm not surprised that most of the potential candidates are unknowns. A party assumes the personality of its leader, and under McGuinty the Liberals have tried to portray themselves as a group of low-key, low-drama, technocratic public servants who just do the job. My mother's reasons for liking McGuinty when I asked her a year ago: "he seems harmless and doesn't hurt anyone".

    I think the reason their polling numbers are so low now is that with the budget crunch they were forced to finally make hard choices and hurt people (even so, they tried as hard as they could to avoid seeming divisive).

    Still, "bland and competent" remains exactly what Ontarians are looking for and explains both why the Liberals have been so successful and why the Conservatives have failed to break through in the past two elections - because they always just managed to seem a little unhinged. And also why Andrea Horwath is now the most popular leader - she's doing exactly what McGuinty did, even though she's not as much as a policy wonk.

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  12. I don't live in Ontario, however I have to say I really like Andrea Horwath. She comes across as passionate, caring and competent. Tim Hudak OTOH is like swallowing cod liver oil because someone long ago said that it is good for you, however never proven.
    Please Ontario don't give the Cons a majority. Look what it has done to Ottawa.

    Bc'er out west.

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    1. Fish oil is high in Omega3s which have proven to be beneficial (although like coffee there is a litany of contradicting studies).

      Horwath is alright but, someone needs to do the heavy lifting to get Ontario's books in order. Not sure any of the candidates on offer are up to the task. I do not think a minority of any stripe would be able to accomplish these goals.

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  13. New Ontario provincial poll out today from Innovative Research:

    PC 32, NDP 31, Lib 28, Grn 9

    Dom

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    1. Do you have a link? It isn't up on their website yet.

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    2. Thanks very much, I have updated the averages.

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