Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pre-Wynne, NDP led in Ontario

Just before the first ballot results of the Ontario Liberal leadership convention were to be announced, the Toronto Star released a Forum Research poll on the voting intentions of Ontarians. The poll showed that the  New Democrats narrowly led over the Progressive Conservatives, and that the leadership of Kathleen Wynne or Sandra Pupatello wouldn't change a thing. Will that hold?
Forum was last in the field on Dec. 17, and since then the NDP increased their support by four points to 35%. That gave them the advantage over the PCs, who slipped one point to 32%. The Liberals were unchanged at 27%, while the Greens were down three points to 5%.

The margin between the NDP and Tories is not statistically significant, but the changes in support of the New Democrats and Greens are (just).

The New Democrats were ahead in the 905 area code with 36%, trailed by the Tories at 30% and the Liberals at 28%. They were also ahead in the wider GTA with 34% to 32% for the Liberals and 28% for the PCs.

In southwestern Ontario, the NDP picked up 12 points to lead with 39%, putting them ahead of the Progressive Conservatives, who were down to 35%. The Liberals dropped eight points to only 18% in the region.

The NDP also had the advantage in northern Ontario with 42% to 30% for the PCs and 22% for the Liberals.

The Progressive Conservatives led only in eastern Ontario, with 42% to 28% for the Liberals and 24% for the New Democrats. The Liberals, meanwhile, were ahead only in the 416 area code, with 37% to 33% for the NDP and 25% for the PCs.

Most of the changes in support were within the margin of error, so we could be looking at a lot of statistical wobbling. On the face of it, though, it does appear that the Liberals experienced an uptick in Toronto while the NDP made gains in rural (eastern, southwestern, and northern) Ontario. Interestingly, the only major change in support occurred in southwestern Ontario, the only region of the province in which Sandra Pupatello's numbers were better than the generic ballot (23%). With her defeat, the Liberals might not expect to recover in southwestern Ontario anytime soon.

But the election of Wynne or Pupatello would not have changed much. Forum found that, under Wynne, the Liberals would have 26% support to 34% for the NDP and 32% for the PCs. For completely logical reasons, a Wynne leadership pushes one point from the Liberals (and the NDP as well, of course) to the Greens. In other words, her leadership of the party should not change anything in the short term - at least according to these numbers. Pupatello had an identical result, except the PCs dropped a point too. Gerard Kennedy would have done better, with 30% to the NDP's 32% and the Tories' 31%, but that is academic at this point.
With Ontarians' current voting intentions province wide, the Progressive Conservatives could eke out a tiny minority with 40 seats, to 37 for the New Democrats and 30 for the Liberals. The margin is close enough that if this were my final projection in an election campaign, I'd only give the Progressive Conservatives a 45% chance of winning the most seats (33% for the NDP and 22% for the Liberals). Put simply, a toss-up forecast.

The regional distribution is still quite stark, with the Tories winning 31 of their 40 seats in eastern, central, and southwestern Ontario, while the Liberals win 26 of their 30 in and around Toronto.

Note that this projection is based on the province-wide numbers. If it were regionally based (as the model will be when the next election rolls around), the NDP could do even better, winning more seats in the GTA and likely enough to put them narrowly ahead of the Tories.

The ace up their sleeve has to be Andrea Horwath, as she has an approval rating that is head-and-shoulders above her rivals. More than half, or 51%, approve of her, compared to 28% who disapprove. Still, one-in-five don't know what they think of her. New Democrats are almost unanimous, though: they give her an 80% approval rating.

Tim Hudak does worse among Tories, with 59% approval. Among Ontarians as a whole, he gets 27% approval to 53% disapproval. This is still a major problem for the PCs, just as Dalton McGuinty was a problem for the Liberals. His approval rating was 21% to 71% disapproval on the eve of his departure, with only 48% of Liberal supporters approving of him.

Will Ontarians warm up to Kathleen Wynne? Her numbers were improving as the convention approached. Only 8% of Ontarians thought she was the best choice to be OLP leader in November, improving to 23% in December and 25% just before the weekend. That still put her behind Pupatello (26%) and Kennedy (33%), but not by the same margins as in previous polls. Among Liberals, she was the choice of 27%, within the margin of error of Pupatello (28%) and Kennedy (33%). By that score, the Ontario Liberals did not make a bad choice.

Undoubtedly, a rash of polls will break out in the coming weeks as we try to gauge where the party stands now that Wynne is the premier and the province could potentially be heading to an election soon. If her numbers are good, we might see the NDP being a bit more amenable to compromise and the Liberal minority could survive. If her numbers are not, both Horwath and Hudak might turn the screws.

22 comments:

  1. Éric, how do you account for Forum's bizarre seat distribution based on these levels of support (Lib & PC 40 seats each; NDP only 27)? Yours look a lot more believable given the numbers.

    Dom

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    1. I cannot. I've asked in the past about their methodology but have never gotten a response.

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    2. Quite honestly, it seems like Forum makes their seat projection numbers up out of thin air sometimes. I'm sure there is some kind of method going on, but these days it seems like the proportion of madness to method is increasing.

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    3. I believe they take their sample and break it down into sub-samples of each riding for their seat projection. If that's correct, then their seat projections are based on some VERY small samples.

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    4. No, that can't be - otherwise they'd project Green seats now and then. And we'd see a lot more volatility in their seat numbers.

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    5. Would it? I'll do the math when I get home from work to check, but with only 55 Green supporters in their sample that's an average of half a Green supporter per riding. Now that I think about it you're probably right though. Maybe some small-region model? Whatever they're doing seems to be quite volatile though. Remember the seat totals they had right before the provincial election?

      I seem to remember that they did do this with a 3,000 respondent poll just before the election, but yah, 30 respondents per seat would still be more statistically valid than the less than 10 here.

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  2. If NDP still leads at start of an election, could there be more of a surge (a la Quebec in 2011)?

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  3. This poll seems odd in it's results even, NDP up, yet PC's down? Does this infer that either there is significant crossover between NDP and PC potential voters(unlikely but possible).

    Or that PC voters are crossing to the Liberal Party who are bleeding votes to the NDP? This seems unlikely to be a trend if this is the case since Wynne is on the very left edge of the OLP. I'm looking forward to some more polls in coming days, this one has the look of an outlier.

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    1. The PCs were down just a point, which could just be explained by rounding. The movement, if there actually was any, was from the Greens (-3) to the NDP (+4). But that cross-pollination is also happening, IIRC I was once told that at any time 10% to 20% of the population is going from one party to another, with the movements cancelling each other out.

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    2. Thanks for the clarification Eric, I should have read the article over again to more properly interpret what was happening.

      Interesting to note that 10-20% of voters are in a state of flux, I would have thought the number to be lower. Always fascinating to come by here and learn something new keep up the good work.

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  4. Charles Harrison29 January, 2013 13:45

    I wonder what would happen to the polls if the NDP and Liberals coalesced. With Wynne, it may happen.

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  5. The Liberals should not be that concerned yet. Wynne is a new leader and it will take time for voters to get to know her. The Progressive Conservatives, on the other hand, should not celebrate yet. When the Liberals had bad poll numbers, the PCs usually had 35%+ support which would be enough to form a majority government. It seems more anti-Liberal voters are coalescing around the NDP and their more popular leader Andrea Horwath. It will definitely be an interesting spring sitting for the Ontario government.

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  6. Im not surprised Hudak is going nowhere. Those loony white papers on labour and education are outside the Ontario political culture. They are not Tory, they are aTea Party Republican. He seems to more concerned about keeping his grip on the Tory party after blowing the last one in 2011. The irony is these policies are sinking him and may just resurect the Liberals. With Pupatello out Hudak blew his chances with Red Tories and Blue Liberals by moving to the right of the Vi
    sigoths.

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    1. Hudak and the Ont. Tories as well as a generous portion of the Fed Tories seem to have moved somewhere off to the right of the Tea Party.

      Certainly its insanities can be seen in some Fed moves, All Hudak can do is yak and blather right now and every time he opens his mouth the hole he is digging just gets bigger !!

      Progressive Conservative he ain't !! CPC? Yeah I think so and they can't win this province.

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    2. Hudak seems to be banking on the fact that he has a nearly unshakable lock on 30-34% of the Ontario population. As Eric's numbers have shown us, under the right circumstances that share of the vote can win him a majority government.

      I would guess that his political calculus is to focus on creating the circumstances in which his existing slice of the pie can him him the election, rather than on putting water in his wine and trying to grow the pie slice.

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    3. One of the most telling numbers in the Forum poll is that less than 60% of PCPO supporters have a positive impression of Hudak. #TeaPartyTim is in trouble with his own supporters. If Wynne is unable to rally Liberal support we could see a 1990 redux and an NDP majority.

      @JKennethY

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    4. Peter - "Progressive Conservative he ain't !! CPC? Yeah I think so and they can't win this province."

      Pretty sure the CPC won in Ontario on May 2, 2011. They did so in 2008 as well.

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    5. Nice try Ryan but you're talking Federal not Provincial !!

      Hudak is busily engaged in achieving, and given the last election he's got a better headstart this time, defeat from the jaws of Victory and it isn't finished yet !!

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    6. Peter,

      Ontario is known by the colloloquialism "Tory Ontario"!

      Hudak or any other Tory leader is more than capable of winning. Aside from one poll with the NDP in the lead all others have shown the Tories ahead. The NDP is not yet the governing alternative in Ontario.

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  7. One thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that in the last 4 Ontario elections the party that was leading in the polls when the writ dropped ended up losing. If I was in one of the opposition parties and trying to decide whether or not to pull the plug on the government, I'd base my decision based on how strong I perceive my campaign team and resources to be, not a relatively minuscule lead or deficit in the polls.

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  8. What are the definitions of the regions you're using? Thanks

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    1. They generally follow the breakdown of ridings on the Wikipedia page for the 2011 Ontario election. I have not defined the regions I will use in the projection model yet.

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