Friday, February 1, 2013

Three-way race in Ontario

Yesterday, the Toronto Star reported the results of a new Innovative Research poll taken after the OLP convention showing the Liberals narrowly edging out the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats in Ontario. With a small sample, the results of the poll are far from definitive - but it does have a few interesting nuggets.

I wrote about the poll for The Huffington Post Canada and I invite you to read the article, as I will just quickly go over the basic numbers here. I also invite you to take a look at the poll report itself, as it contains a lot of information on other interesting questions.
Before jumping to the conclusion that Kathleen Wynne is boosting Liberal fortunes, it has to be noted that Innovative appears to have been polling regularly (but releasing sparsely, those hoarders) and that the numbers for the Liberals and Tories have actually decreased since December, while the numbers for the NDP have increased. But with a margin of error of almost five points, we really can't see much about what this poll is showing, other than an effective three-way tie (generally what other polls have shown as well).

More interesting are the numbers on who is the best person to be premier: Wynne gets 24% to 18% for Tim Hudak and 13% for Andrea Horwath. That is a big drop since December, when Horwath was leading on this question with 21% to 20% for Hudak and only 19% for Dalton McGuinty. So, by this measure, we can say that Wynne looks to have improved matters for the Liberals to the detriment of the NDP.
With these provincial numbers, the Liberals could eke out another minority government with 45 seats. The Tories would be almost shut out of the Toronto area and win 34, while the New Democrats would take 27 seats. Not shown on the graph is one seat for the Greens. With 9%, or three times their score in 2011, the Greens could potentially win at least one seat, but I suspect that number is inflated (as is often the case with the Greens).

And they're off. If these kinds of numbers are backed up by some other polls, the appetite that the Tories and the NDP might have for an election could drop significantly. It is worth noting that since Wynne's leadership victory, the tone from the press gallery at Queen's Park has been more about an election in the fall or even the spring of 2014, rather than the snap election almost everyone assumed would occur if Sandra Pupatello had taken the leadership. The reaction that Hudak and Horwath will have to Wynne's throne speech will be interesting to see.

35 comments:

  1. Of course this poll was in field literally the day after Kathleen Wynne won the leadership when she got a blast on positive publicity that will inevitably fade. Even Ernie Eves had a big initial bounce when he took over from Mike Harris. I will be curious to see what the Ontario polls look like in a month or two once Wynne actually starts doing things etc... and once the novelty of her being premier wears off. Her support could go higher - or it could quickly recede back to McGuinty levels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John Turner led in the polls going into the 1984 election, and we all know how that turned out. Kim Campbell's strength going into the 1993 election was even more inflated. That doesn't mean Wynne is guaranteed to fade, just that now is just about the worst time to try to predict the results of the next election based on a snapshot of current party preference.

      Delete
  2. I actually believe that KWs sexual orientation will turn out to be an net benefit much like Obamas race. Obama motivated black people to vote in much higher numbers. The LGBT community rated by Masters and Johnson at between 5% and 15% depending on definitions may turn out to be decisive in swing ridings if they switch for breakthrough reasons. 90% of the homophobes lets say already have another party.

    George Orwell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George Orwell (btw, that's quite a monicker to 'adopt'),

      It's not an apt comparison... The reason black voters made a difference for Obama was because a history of consistent and systematic voter suppression had kept many black people from voting at all. The massive voter drive of 2008 produced a lot of first-time voters who predominantly voted for Obama. LGBT people have not been subject to vote suppression, so even voting as a block they are unlikely to make a difference - in fact, it'S arguable that LGBT votes have congregated up till now anyway, so there would be no discernable effect at all.

      Delete
    2. I agree with chimurenga. Another factor to consider is that the LGBT community is heavily concentrated into a relatively limited number of ridings that the Liberals already hold, most notably Toronto Centre.

      Delete
    3. It isn't just LGBT voters who are attracted to the appeal of a lesbian premier, just as it wasn't black people who are attracted to the appeal of a black president. It provides something of a feel good, pat-ourselves-on-the-back moment for, say, straight white people as well to see these kinds of politicians get elected. So I think there are a chunk of people who could go either NDP or Liberal that this may push in Wynne's direction.

      Delete
  3. The fact that Kathleen Wynne is holding off an election until 2014 is a good indication that she wants to make this minority government work instead of wasting a few months (and a couple million dollars) on an election where we will virtually have another minority government.

    Voters seem to be disillusioned that once a new Premier has been sworn in, they must hold an election to secure a mandate from the voting population. Wynne already has a mandate from the previous election (from 58% of people who voted in Don Valley West). People vote for a party representative and the leader of the largest party forms government. Voters chose a Liberal government in the last election, so there's no reason why a snap election should be held. I'd rather have the government get to work now and tackle the deficit, the labour dispute, and gridlock problems in the GTA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a long held tradition- perhaps even convention- that a new premier should go to the polls shortly after assuming office.

      A premier is a (absolute) monarch in all but name accordingly, they must be "legitimised" by the population through election. By what right or mandate does Ms. Wynne govern? You suggest approximately 58% of 1/108 ridings or roughly .0534% of the population. That is a very small mandate for someone who could conceivably "rule" Ontario for the next four years.

      There is no doubt she could go on as long as she has the support of the House. However, in the interests of democracy and in the spirit of responsible government she should call an election sooner. It may be in her own interests to do so. Both Christy Clark and Gordon Brown would have likely won re-election had they dropped the writ shortly after assuming office-the delay proved costly for Brown and will likely be so for Clark.

      Delete
    2. There is no tradition or convention for a new premier to go to the polls. During the last election, the people of Ontario (well the less than 50% of those who bothered to vote), did not directly elect McGuinty as premier but rather for their local constituents and their party banner.

      Ernie Eves governed Ontario without an election for nearly 1.5 years. His party legitimately won an election in 1999, and changed leaders mid way. Looking at other parliamentary systems, Britain had Gordon Brown as an "unelected" PM for nearly three years. The party who forms government in Japan may go through 3 or 4 leaders in a term before facing the electorate. The Japanese Liberal Democrats governed from 2009-2012, consisting of three PMs.

      Looking back to Ontario, no party won a majority, but the Liberal Party had the largest share of seats and were able to govern with the help of other parties. Technically, if the Wynne cabinet has the confidence in the house she can govern till October 2015. Technically, if the Wynne cabinet loses the confidence of the House, a coalition government can be formed with a combination of PCs, NDP or rouge Liberals. Unlikely scenarios, but still legitimate under our parliamentary system.

      - Maple

      Delete
    3. Derek Andrew, I don't think that is as true of a minority government as it is of a majority. The opposition can bring the government down any time they want, so there is no reason for the government to do their job for them. If the opposition is confident that the public wants an immediate election, they have the power to make it happen. Judging by these poll numbers, though, a new election now would change little, so maybe it's more productive for the three parties to actually do the jobs they were elected to do?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous 11:36, your argument is internally inconsistent. In one breath, you argue that Wynne has a mandate because the people elect individual representatives, not whole governments, and then in the next you say that the people chose a Liberal government. Pick one. You can't have both.

      Delete
    5. People vote for a party representative hoping that their party will form government. Enough people voted for a Liberal MPP that they had enough seats to form government.

      Wynne definitely has the mandate to govern until the opposition parties defeat the government. Unlike municipal elections and presidential elections, provincial Premiers are indirectly elected. Theoretically, any one of the 53 Liberal MPPs could have been Premier in the last election. Dalton McGuinty was just selected by the party to lead the Liberals in government. Kathleen Wynne was selected by a majority of Liberal delegates to lead the Liberal Party of Ontario. Since the Liberals are the largest party in the legislature, Wynne has the mandate to become Premier.

      I think both opposition parties are going to hold their nose for a while until either party can sustain at least a lead of 10% in the polls.

      Delete
    6. Premiers are not indirectly elected they are appointed. They may be elected to lead a party but, since parties are private organisations it is a stretch to equate a party leadership process with indirect election. This is in marked contrast to the electoral college in the US where voters indirectly elect the president through voting for members of the electoral college. It should be noted the House does not elect premiers, they are appointed by the Crown. The House will have a chance to pass confidence on a particular government but, this is quite separate from government formation.

      Maple, brought forth some interesting examples, however, he also omitted or failed to mention equally as many if not more that disprove his point: Alison Redford called an election after roughly 6 months, ditto Rodney MacDonald, John Turner, Kim Campbell, Paul Martin, Pierre Trudeau, John Major, Julia Gillard, Ralph Klein. Donald Cameron, Ujjal Dossanjh waited roughly a year before an election. As mentioned Ernie Eves went to the polls after about a year as well.

      I think if we were to take the sum of all mid-mandate leadership turnovers we would find most new premiers head to the polls within a year or so. It is far less common to remain in office for multiple years such as Gordon Brown and Christy Clark within the Westminster system. The Japanese system is quite different with internal succession and a different electoral system so I do not think it a good example.

      I find it slightly an odd argument to say the opposition holds the responsibility to call an election. There is no doubt constitutionally a government may continue so long as they hold the confidence of the House which guarantees the pleasure of the Crown. Such an argument however, effectively states that it is the opposition-not the government-who hold responsibility for and use of the Royal Prerogatives! Such a conclusion is not only illogical since, governments are elected to lead not shirk their responsibility, but, it is completely inconsistent with responsible government.

      Secondly, although governments may remain in office after a change of leadership until the end of the mandate whether such a decision is ethical or tyrannical is open to debate. I think it goes without question the people deserve a say at the earliest opportunity. At present people have stated Wynne holds a mandate; she certainly holds a mandate to be leader of the Liberal party but, she holds no mandate to govern until her Throne speech is passed.

      Delete
  4. The NDP might have a turnout disadvantage as its increase in support has come from young people to a large extent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are no demographic breakdowns in the poll, so it's hard to know.

      Delete
  5. There is no mood for an election, that will likely yield another minority government.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Most of the LGBT community is in urban ridings that are all already safely NDP or Liberal and they already turnout in high numbers. Wynne being lesbian might help shore up Glen Murray in Toronto Centre but beyond that its hard to see how it impacts on a single solitary riding

    ReplyDelete
  7. How reliable is this pollster, Innovative Research? Do you have other Ontario provincial data points from them? I find it more than a little difficult to evaluate the significance of these results - particularly in relation to the conflicting Forum Research data - absent any baseline to compare them with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering the margins of error of the two polls, the polls from Forum and Innovative are not really in any conflict, particularly considering the OLP convention occurred in between them.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I reported on a poll of theirs in October. Compared to that poll, PCs are down two, NDP is down four, and OLP is up three. But their sample was, again, quite small so there really isn't much statistically significant movement.

      Delete
  9. It's a bump. Bumps are predictable, and temporary.

    ReplyDelete
  10. All side should take a deep breath, it's still early goings. There's bound to be a glut of new polls in the next 2-3 weeks which will give us a better look at voting intent.

    As for this poll, it a bit discouraging to see such a small sample size and such a high MOE (almost 5%). This would tell me the poll was made simply to get out the door and be the first to press.

    With a 5% MOE, at best this poll by Innovative Research tells us that all three Parties are poised to win... the popular vote. Sadly even if my NDP win the popular vote they could still end up third in Queen's Park with 32-35%.

    The only hope there is that it would prompt a major change in the electoral system, after such a travesty.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What are the two or more ridings do the PCs lose in this scenerio?

    I am guessing one is Oshawa to the NDP.

    - Maple

    ReplyDelete
  12. The LGBT community may be slightly skewed to urban NDP-Liberal ridings but, in reality they are everywhere. It is like telling the people of Sudbury and SS Marie that Italians like in Vaughn.

    BTW delaying an election is now known as the "Ernie Eves" effect LOL.

    George Orwell.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Charles Harrison01 February, 2013 16:47

    Which seat do the Greens have? I see it's in the central region.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For that effort, you deserve an answer: Dufferin-Caledon.

      Delete
  14. Most contests in our 3 way province are really 2 way contests. The Liberals and NDP fight over urban and norther ridings while Liberals and Tories fight over the rest. The exceptions the NDP vs Tory fights are Oshawa and one seat in London. Sarnis is interesting and has potential. In Michigan there is this funny vote of union guys who like guns and hunting. They call them the Deer Hunter vote. They might go right or left but never centre. John Rodrigez was always afraid of them in Nickel Belt. Lots in rural BC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a couple of other PC-NDP fights, there are actually one or two in Northern Ontario,(Kenora-Rainy River in particular), Welland is also a PC-NDP battle.

      Delete
    2. The NDP plays in the south-west in recent polls, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Tories gaining in the north, particularly the near north. Let's remember that federally the CPC holds Kenora and Nippising-Timiskiming.

      Delete
  15. I just shocked myself after seeing your poll graphic. I've hated McGunity ever since I moved to Ontario. When I saw the poll I said to myself "yeay, we are back on top" then said "we?"

    If more Ontarians are like me, we can indeed win the next election.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Greens are very strong in Grey Bruce Owen Sound but super popular local candidate kinda flamed out.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wynne has a positive bounce from the convention which is normal, I'm interested to see what happens now the parliment will start up again. The problems and scandels that McGuinty had didn't go away. How she handles the spring sitting will have a big effect going forward.

    ReplyDelete
  18. One problem Greens have in delivering theit polling result in an actual election is that they dont have a vote pulling machine.

    ReplyDelete

COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. Please keep discussion on topic.