Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ontario race remains tight with days to go

It is coming down to the wire in one of the closest elections this site has covered. The latest polls added to the model all suggest an extremely close race, with the margin among all eligible voters being three points or less and the margin among likely voters being less than two points. It will make for a nail-biting finish, particularly for your correspondent.

The Liberals are now narrowly in front with 37.3%, or between 36% and 41%, followed by the Progressive Conservatives at 36.5%, or between 35% and 40%. The New Democrats have up-ticked to 19.8%, or between 18% and 21%, while the Greens stand at 5.2%, or between 4% and 7% support.

The Liberals have dropped away from majority territory and are pegged to take 51 seats, or between 42 and 60 seats, while the PCs sit at 37 seats (or between 32 and 45). The NDP is now back up to 19 seats, or between 13 and 22.

This will be the last update before the final projection update, which will be posted either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. The final analysis, either way, will be up on Thursday morning.

It really is very close, but it is one thing to have a close race and another to have a race that might not end up being very close at all. The polls suggest a very tight margin between the Liberals and PCs, but the likely voter model from Ipsos Reid gives it to the PCs in a near landslide. And support for the NDP is either well above their 2011 performance, or well below it, which has a profound effect on the seat numbers for the Liberals and PCs. Unless the final polls show a move all in one direction, we should be going into Election Day with little comfort.

The three latest polls, from Abacus Data for the Sun News Network, EKOS Research for iPolitics, and Oracle for ECO, used a mix of methodologies. They all came to the same general conclusion for the two leading parties: either a tie or a statistically insignificant lead. The Liberals get either 34% or 35% in these polls, the PCs between 31% and 36%. That is rather tight.

For the NDP, though, the range extends from 20% to 28%. That is a very wide range, and spans everything from a waste-of-time election for the NDP or a major breakthrough.

It is interesting to compare the trend lines, however. Abacus was last in the field May 28-31, just before the debate on June 3. Since then, the Liberals dropped three points, the Tories picked up one, and the NDP gained four.

EKOS has been conducting a rolling poll since before the debate, but if we look at its May 29-June 1 numbers, done at mostly the same time as Abacus, we see similar movement: a drop of four points for the Liberals, a gain of one for the Tories, and a gain of three for the NDP. It will be interesting to see if, in the last numbers put out by these polls, we will see things continuing to move in the same direction.

Adam Radwanski in the Globe and Mail today writes about the internal polls being done by the Liberals and Tories. Both now seem to expect a minority government in which they will hold sway, but more interestingly perhaps is that both internal polls have shown an uptick for the PCs since the debate. That jives with the public polls. The projection, for example, had the Tories at just 33.8% in polls done up to June 2.

Abacus had a series of other questions included in their poll that may shed some more light on these horserace numbers.

32% of Ontarians expect the Liberals to win, while 25% think the Tories will prevail. That is rather close, and suggests that voters may go into the polling booths expecting a very tight result. That might encourage strategic voting, which could hurt the NDP and Greens.

On the other hand, just 24% think the Wynne government deserves re-election, a drop of three points since last week, while 54% think it is time for a change, a jump of six points.

Interest in the campaign is growing, as 42% told Abacus they had given quite a lot of thought to the campaign, up from 32% when Abacus first polled in the early stages of the race. Interestingly, and perhaps depressingly for those in the media, the proportion of respondents saying they are following the news concerning the campaign very closely has hardly changed (24%).

Counter-acting the benefits that Tim Hudak has probably gained as a result of the debate (which Abacus's respondents said he won) is that the percentage of Ontarians saying they have a negative opinion of the PC leader has jumped to its highest of the campaign so far, at 52%. No wonder, then, that the Liberals are going after NDP voters with the Hudak boogeyman. Will it work? According to Abacus, NDP/OLP swing voters favour Kathleen Wynne as premier over Andrea Horwath by a margin of 48% to 26%. Oracle, meanwhile, showed that 46% of non-PC voters were casting a ballot against Hudak, rather than for another leader or party.

It is a dizzying array of pros and cons for each leader. Plausible, defensible, and ultimately accurate arguments as to why Wynne or Hudak will win (or that the NDP will out-perform expectations) on Thursday could be written up, and proponents of either could only reasonably agree to disagree. A terrific situation for democracy and election-watchers, a horrible one for pollsters.


  1. With the Abacus elegible-voters, I get:

    48 OLP
    35 PC
    24 NDP

    With their likely-voters, I get:

    43 PC
    42 OLP
    22 NDP

    With the EKOS eligible-voters, I get:

    45 OLP
    43 PC
    19 NDP

    With their likely-voters, I get:

    51 OLP
    41 PC
    15 NDP

    With the Oracle numbers, I get:

    44 OLP
    43 PC
    20 NDP

    And the 308-aggregate gets me:

    47 OLP
    43 PC
    17 NDP

    1. Thierry, can you check your numbers? It doesn't seem plausible that with Abacus Likely voters you would have PC by +1 seat, when their numbers actually show a dead heat, and the eligible-voters show Libs by 13 seats.

    2. I made a verification and those really are my numbers. The 3% lead, at those levels, mean a lot, especially with such a strong NDP. With the OLP and PC tied, the NDP hurts the OLP more than it hurts the PC, which takes away the inherent advantage the OLP has with the electoral system.

      Just to give you an idea though, with the likey-voters numbers, 18 seats are won with less than 5%, 9 of those with less than 2%, and the 5% or less rise to 24 with the eligible-voters, 14 of those by less than 2%. This makes those seats very tight races and a slight error in the polls or a slight different turnout could make a major difference on those projections.

  2. If the NDP actually did get 28% of the PV, what could their seat count be expected to be?

    1. In my own model, obviously not the same as Eric's, if the NDP received 28% (and GPO at 5% for simplicity's sake), I would get:

      With OLP and PC both at 33%:

      42 OLP
      42 PC
      23 NDP

      With OLP at 35% and PC at 31%:

      48 OLP
      35 PC
      24 NDP

      With the PC at 35% and OLP at 31%:

      44 PC
      39 PC
      24 NDP

      Hope you find this answer satisfying!

  3. Actually Eric that "days to go" is wrong. Only tomorrow and then vote on Thursday !!

  4. What I do find interesting is how the Liberals have aimed their TV advertising into this last week of campaigning. They were pretty quiet at the start of the campaign but now wow are they and their associates ever pushing the stuff out and it is all very professional stuff. Has to have an influence.

    Whereas the PC ads seem to have virtually disappeared ??

    1. Disappeared? Haha no. Plenty of Tory ads all over TV, and today I ever saw an NDP ad for the first time, albeit it seemed like a 15 second clip of Andrea talking (never good) that they filmed with a cell phone on Monday afternoon. Plenty of commercials from Working Families, and even a few from Working Canadians. Everyone is in the final push.

    2. They sure have down East here Nick

  5. CHCH TV out of Hamilton is reporting that a new poll shows the OLP could win a majority. I can't find out anything more than that. Eric have you heard anything?

    1. Fingers crossed Earl

    2. Nothing on their twitter feed or their website after the 6PM news cycle, and to be honest it doesn't make much sense anyway even if there was one. All the pollsters seem to have converged on a statistical tie between the Tories and the OLP with the wildcard being the level of NDP support and how likely their likely voter models actually are.

    3. Actually, they were probably talking about the Forum poll. Wouldn't hold my breath on their seat count breakdown if I were any of you.

  6. Eric -- Thanks for all your work here.

    So you're saying a solid Liberal minority is the most likely outcome. 51-37-19. I think the polls have been all over the map so much that I don't take them seriously any more, but you know more about the polling methodologies than I do.

  7. Peter it is a forum poll 42 -35:


    1. The numbers bring me to almost the same seat results as Forum:

      61 OLP
      32 PC
      14 NDP

  8. For those who can't resist bashing I have already voted at an advanced poll!!

    Was impressed with how good a job Elections Ontario had done in setting up the poll.

  9. I'm still hoping for a shocking, poll killing, NDP majority upset victory.

  10. AJR79 thanks the discussion. Enjoyed it. Although we differ I certainly can respect your position and do understand why you have taken that position. I wish there were better choices, but alas there are not.

    Hope you will visit this site more often. You raise the level of discourse.



  11. Earl that poll, great as it is, is dated for today. But hey !! I'll take Lib 42 vs PC 35 any day.

  12. While
    walking down the street one day, a Member of
    Parliament is hit by a
    truck and tragically dies.

    His soul arrives in heaven and is
    met by St. Peter at the entrance.

    'Welcome to heaven,' says
    St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it
    seems there is a problem.
    We seldom see a high official around these
    parts, you see, so we're
    not sure what to do with you.'

    'No problem, just let me in,'
    says the man.

    'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from
    higher up. What we'll do is have you spend
    one day in hell and one
    in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend

    'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in
    heaven,' says the MP.

    'I'm sorry, but we have our

    And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator
    and he goes down, down, down to hell. The
    doors open and he
    finds himself in the middle of a green golf
    course. In the distance
    is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are
    all his friends and
    other politicians who had worked with him.

    Everyone is very
    happy and in evening dress. They run to greet
    him, shake his hand,
    and reminisce about the good times they had
    while getting rich at
    the expense of the people.

    They play a friendly game of golf
    and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

    Also present
    is the devil, who really is a very friendly
    & nice guy who has a
    good time dancing and telling jokes. They are
    having such a good
    time that before he realizes it, it is time to

    gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the

    The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens
    on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

    'Now it's time
    to visit heaven.'

    So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a
    group of contented souls moving from cloud to
    cloud, playing the
    harp and singing. They have a good time
    and, before he
    realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St.

    'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another
    in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'

    The MP reflects for a
    minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would
    never have said it before, I
    mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I
    would be better off
    in hell.'

    So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he
    goes down, down, down to hell.

    Now the doors of the elevator
    open and he's in the middle of a barren land
    covered with waste and

    He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up
    the trash and putting it in black bags as more
    trash falls from

    The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around
    his shoulder. ' I don't
    understand,' stammers the

    I was here and there was a golf course and
    clubhouse, and we ate
    lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced
    and had a great
    time. Now there's just a wasteland full of
    garbage and my friends
    look miserable. What happened?'

    The devil looks at him,
    smiles and says, ' Yesterday we were

    Today you

  13. Courtesy of CBC website:

    "But Frank Graves, president of Ekos Research Associates, said he believes voters are concerned about the scandals but are also leery of some of Hudak's proposals.

    "What I see is a genuinely flummoxed part of the electorate that simply can't choose between the rock and the hard place … do you want to have this government — that probably should be in the penalty box for all the things that have happened — back in power again. Or do you really like this almost scorched-earth type of anti-government model that Mr. Hudak is proposing."

  14. and Angus Reid finally weighs in - Decided voters: OLP 36, PC 32, NDP 26. Likely voters: PC 36%, OLP 34%, NDP 24%

    1. With the decided-voters, I get:

      50 OLP
      35 PC
      22 NDP

      And with likely-voters, I get:

      43 OLP
      43 PC
      21 NDP

  15. The way this is shaking out ... anybody feel like making odds on getting exactly the results at dissolution (ignoring the vacancy)?

    1. I'm sure it is just as likely as any of the other possibilities. Thing is if the race is as close as some of the polls are predicting, all it will take is a very slight nudge in a few of the GTA ridings to flip the seat count around for the Liberals and PCs.

      Another possibility I've been thinking about is the Tories win the popular vote but not the seat count. Should be interesting.

  16. Ipsos is releasing their latest poll this evening. John Wright says it contains some big surprises. Hudak in majority territory? The most recent Liberal ads seem desperate to me and smack of a losing campaign but I admit I'm biased...

    1. http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=6532

      Decided voters: 33 Liberal, 31 PC, 30 NDP
      Likely voters: 36 PC, 30 Liberal 30 NDP

    2. The decided-voters get me:

      42 OLP
      38 PC
      27 NDP

      And the likely-voters:

      44 PC
      35 OLP
      28 NDP

  17. Startegy voting might come into place. Grits have 4 to 7 points lead, but what might help them even more is strategic voting. There are no other right or far-right wing parties with significant vote percentage, while the progressive vote other than the Liberals has an extra 20-25 percent or even more. Sounds more like a Liberal win, though will see with the turnout, but I think we might have two political parties that will be looking for a new leader after tommorrow.

    1. The problem is the Liberal party is a small "c" conservative party not a "progressive party. That is why they subsidise business and have close ties to Bay St. We see this fairly often when the Liberals go down in the polls Tories usually go up and when the Tories go down in the polls the Liberals usually go up, not to say some Liberals don't move left but, most move right.

  18. Ipsos latest shows a virtual three way tie. Wow! Love that. PCs still in lead among likely voters. The splits will be key. Probably won't change the Liberal hold of the 416 but I wonder if the NDP could steal a few seats from the Libs in the North and SW.

    1. So it was a 3-way race before the election was called and now it is a 3-way race again. How do we know the polling companies didn't just lie to everybody to try and make it appear as a 2-way race to marginalize the NDP? Oh yeah we can't know.

    2. Before this election I thought all major pollsters had a position of neutrality. Now, however, I think some pollsters may be more aligned to political parties than others. I don't have any proof, I will say some pollsters "likely voter" models seem suspicious to me.

  19. I will be so glad to see this election over with so I won't have to be subjected to these ridiculous polls.

    1. I am curious then, honestly, why are you commenting on a site that is about polling and prediction?

  20. This election looks like anything could happen. I'm glad I'm not Eric trying predict the outcome.

    I do think the Liberal campaign has has likely cost them votes in waning days of this election. Most likely we are doing the same thing in eighteen months to two years.

    1. I just wish they would stick to traditional polling of which party is leading the poll instead of this 'eligable voters', 'motivated voters', 'likely voters' rubbish. Makes my head spin.

  21. Surely it's obvious with today's polls that Ipsos is indeed betting the farm against the rest. It's very difficult to consider such a huge change given the other polls and, yes, Ipsos' numbers are consistent with their previous polls. So, you either buy them or buy the rest, but someone will be very wrong tomorrow night.

  22. The Liberals in KW sent out an interesting flyer today. In big font it says “It’s a Two-Way Race in K-W Wynne or Hudak” There is a picture of Wynne and Hudak then in the bottom right there is a chart which reads at the top “Local Polls Show Liberals & PC Battle” The bar chart then shows the PC at 31, Liberal at 35 and NDP at 26 with the date “June 6, 2014” on the bottom of the chart. Then below that it says “Source threehundredeight.com”. This is presumably in response to a flyer I received a few days ago from the NDP which showed a similar bar chart but it used the results of the by-election to show that it is a two way race between the NDP and PC. (I don’t have that flyer anymore so I can’t give as much detail).

  23. I see links here to the Forum, Angus Reid and Ipsos polls released today. But not yet to the new Abacus release: 36-36-23 (likely voters). I assume everyone has seen this morning's Ekos.

    So, Libs ahead, Cons ahead, all tied up, Dems fading or Dems surging. Something for everybody!! :-)

    1. For the other firms, you can look up, but for Abacus, here goes! With eligible-voters:

      49 OLP
      36 PC
      22 NDP

      And with their likely-voters:

      44 OLP
      43 PC
      20 NDP

  24. Eric, it doesn't "jive" with public polls. It "jibes" with public polls. I'm serious. Look it up.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Does anybody know that if in the next provincial election the new federal ridings taking effect in 2015 will be used?

  27. My Queens Park connections think it's likely, whoever wins, that they will enact the law to adopt the new federal districts as the provincial districts too.

    1. That will make things easier for candidates like me ;)

  28. Good luck predicting this one.

  29. Best wishes making predictions on this one. I can only predict that I will be going to bed late tomorrow.

  30. I looked at the Abacus poll. More and more voters have doubts about Hudak and Wynn, whereas Horwath's popularity is unchanged. Most people expect a Liberal government, though. Most polls have also showed an NDP uptick in the last week.

    I predict a surging NDP leading to a reduced Liberal minority, but a tight 3-way race. A weak Conservative minority would be almost as likely, though.


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