Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What effect will the debates have on the race?

How the debate went for the three leaders depends on who you ask, with Tim Hudak, Andrea Horwath, and Kathleen Wynne all getting various shades of passing and failing grades from the pundits. For my part, I thought all three did moderately well. But what do voters think? The answer might depend on what you ask.

But first, the projection has been updated with the latest numbers from EKOS Research and Nanos Research. EKOS is starting their daily rolling poll so we should have new numbers to chew on every day. This should provide a bit of an anchor to the projection, preventing it from swinging too wildly from one day to the next as new data is entered.

The projection now pegs the Liberals to have increased their edge, with a 1.1-point gain to 37.8% (or between 36% and 42%). The PCs slipped 1.7 points to 33.8% (or between 32% and 37%), while the New Democrats were unchanged at 20.3% (or between 19% and 22%). The Greens increased by 0.7 points to 7% (or between 5% and 9%).

In terms of seats, the Liberals were up four to 51 (or between 46 and 56), while the PCs were down two to 41 (or between 35 and 44). This means that the potential for a Liberal majority has increased (though it is still less likely than a minority) and the PCs and Liberals no longer overlap. The likely projection, with pre-debate information, points only to a Liberal victory. But the maximum and minimum ranges still make the election a bit of a toss-up.

The New Democrats were down two seats to 15 (or between 13 and 19), while the Greens are now on the board with a likely range of zero to one seat. But before my Green readers get too excited, this will probably disappear as soon as EKOS implements its likely voter model.

The chart above, which represents each day a poll was in the field, the confidence intervals of those polls, and the trend line for each individual pollster, still suggests the Liberals are on the upswing, while the PCs and NDP remain relatively stagnant. It will be interesting to see if the trends will shift now that the debate is over.

Note that the EKOS poll was out of the field on June 2, the day before the debate, and the Nanos survey is a week old. We won't start seeing the effects of the debate until at least today, but not fully until later in the week or after the weekend.

Also note that Forum Research did release some voting intentions numbers in their post-debate poll from last night, but they only surveyed people who watched the debate, and so the poll is not a normal poll that can be added to the model (people who did not watch the debate will vote too).

Let's quickly go over the EKOS and Nanos polls before getting to the debate numbers. EKOS is doing a rolling poll now, dropping one day from the sample as a new day is added.

The latest rolling poll from EKOS gives the Liberals 38.8% (+0.3 from the previous rolling sample), the Tories 30.5% (-3.2), and the NDP 17.8% (+0.9). The Liberals led in the GTA and the Tories in the southwest and east. In the north, the Liberals took the lead as the PCs fell 15 points. An odd result in a daily sample - June 2 must have been a horrid day for the Tories in the north, or more likely a sampling anomaly.

The Nanos poll added to the model was conducted between May 22-26, and so is quite dated by now. It put the Liberals at 37.7%, the Tories at 31.2%, and the NDP at 23.7%. Those numbers were quite similar to the polls being done by EKOS and Abacus at the time.

The debate

Two polls were conducted just after the debate was over: one by Ipsos Reid for CTV and CP24, surveying 1,765 Ontarians online who watched the debate, and the other by Forum Research for the Toronto Star, surveying via IVR 307 Ontarians who watched the debate. They came up with broadly similar results.

On who won the debate, Ipsos gave it to Hudak with 36%, followed by Wynne at 27% and Horwath at 26%. Forum also gave it to Hudak with 33% to 28% for Wynne and 20% for Horwath. Considering the margins of error those are virtually identical.

Forum asked people how they intended to vote before the debate and if that changed after the debate. They found gains for both the PCs (four points) and the Liberals (three points), with drops by the NDP (three points) and the Greens (four points). If the debate made the race more of a two-horse contest, this makes sense.

Ipsos asked whether the debate improved or worsened the opinion they held for the leaders. It was a mixed bag for Hudak, with 40% saying it improved their opinion of him and 34% saying it worsened it. It was a worse night for Wynne, with only 24% improving their opinion and 43% worsening it. By this measure, Horwath had the best performance with 54% saying it improved their opinion of her and just 15% saying it worsened it. However, only 13% of respondents said the debate changed their mind when it came to who they would vote for.

Who was the most likable? Forum's respondents said it was Horwath by a whisker, at 33% to 29% for Wynne and 28% for Hudak. Ipsos gave it to Horwath by a much larger margin, with 43% to 26% for Wynne and 25% for Hudak. Who made the best points and had the best ideas and policies? Both Ipsos and Forum gave that to Hudak.

But Forum asked one question that was quite interesting, in terms of whether respondents believed the leaders. Was Wynne's promise of an Ontario retirement plan believable? 43% said yes, 49% said no. What about Horwath's promise to lower auto insurance rates? 41% thought it was believable, 50% thought it wasn't. And Hudak's Million Jobs Plan? Just 27% thought it was believable, against 69% who thought it was not. As Hudak spent much of the night talking about his plan, that could be problematic.

On the other hand, when Ipsos asked respondents who was best on various issues, Hudak topped the list on the economy, taxes, debt/deficit reduction, and accountability. Horwath was favoured on health care, the environment, and social services. Wynne placed in the middle of the pack on most of these issues, perhaps understandably for a nominally centrist party. But it does suggest that the Liberals are lacking an issue that works for them.

Based on all of these debate numbers, what can we take from it? It does seem that Hudak did do himself well, and stands to benefit from his performance. Horwath did not impose herself very forcefully (only 22% told Ipsos she sounded and acted like a premier, compared to 37% for both Hudak and Wynne), but she was likable. And Wynne did alright with a middling performance. For the incumbent, that may be enough. But we will see in the coming days if Hudak has indeed improved how the electorate sees him and his party.


  1. I still don't see a majority Govt. My feeling is a repeat Liberal minority.

  2. "And Hudak's Million Jobs Plan? Just 27% thought it was believable, against 69% who thought it was not. As Hudak spent much of the night talking about his plan, that could be problematic."

    And every economist of any status that has looked at that plan has said it's total BS !! Did Hudak win, of what I saw no.

    1. Economists don't know anything and the media loves to select economists as if they are experts in choosing the right pundit.

      I love how the main criticism of Hudak's plan is it is too optimistic whereas for the Liberals the criticism is we are being to cynical. Like 11 years of actual evidence isn't enough.

      Hudak totally won the debate as these polls show. Wynne was gesticulating like a robot and was on the defensive the whole time: "I'm sorry, I take full responsibility ... I am Sorry ... Sorry.." That is the BS.

    2. Respectfully, the criticism of Hudak's plan is that it is fundamentally based on significant mathematical errors. His plan counts a person having a job for eight years as 8 jobs. It discredits his entire plan. That is what the economists are pointing out. Economists, at least, know how to do basic mathematics.

      Wynne's performance last night was quite middling. She seemed unprepared and would have stood to benefit from more succinct responses. Her reasoning was based on correct premises, but needed to be nailed better.

      Horwath was effective, but didn't model her or her party as a government in waiting. Her performance was that of a capable opposition leader - the risk you run when you focus on vilifying the other leaders and/or parties instead of presenting your own vision.

      Hardly a gamechanger for anyone.

      Eric, is the Forum poll of pre/post debate impressions of any use? That sample seems to suggest both the Liberals and PCs got an equal boost.

    3. Hupfield,

      I addressed the Forum poll above. Because it was just a survey of people who watched the debate, it isn't useful for my purposes.

    4. Respectfully, Re: Hudak's plan and the numbers don't add up. I get it. Thanks.

      I still plan on voting for him over the Liberals who will NOT balance the budget. Those are the REAL numbers one should be concerned with. Or are you not concerned about the waste of $1 Billion dollars which is like almost $100 per person in Ontario?

      Hudak wants to create Private sector Jobs whether is is 1 Million, 500,000, 2 Million, who cares? The Liberals think putting more people on the public payroll creates jobs and economic wealth.

      The fact that the poll says people don't believe Hudak's Jobs plan doesn't mean people don't want it or don't think that is the number one issue.

    5. Peter, I am sure you are right about the number of people who find "The Jobs Plan Believable". The problem is an equally small number will find Wynne's response to gas plants believable; Hudak failed to land a knock-out punch in that segment but, the question remains; if Wynne is of strong moral character why did she not resign from cabinet instead of acquiescing to McGuinty's perverse attempt to save two marginal constituencies at a cost of a billion dollars?

    6. Bede you're getting confused at that last part there. The promise was made during the election - there was no cabinet to resign from. And Hudak made the same promise.

    7. Ryan,

      The cabinet remains in place during an election campaign albeit in a caretaker capacity. Wynne could have resigned and probably should have resigned. She was Minister of Transportation until October 20, 2011. Then when the full cost of the Liberals spendthrift ways became public in Spring 2012 she had another opportunity to resign from cabinet but choose not to do so-it is disingenuous to now claim she is a person of strong moral character. Let us also not forget the parliamentary office graft that partly occurred under her premiership!

      Hudak may have made the same promise but, he was not in government at the time or now. Monkey see monkey do is a pretty lame attempt to justify what at best is poorly thought out public policy and at worst potentially a criminal act.

      I hope B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta protest any equalization for Ontario if the Liberals get re-elected-clearly Ontario has money to burn!

    8. "every economist of any status that has looked at that plan has said it's total BS"

      Fack Check: Phillip Cross does. See

  3. I thought Hudak was terrible. He's probably a very intelligent person but he kept repeating the same sound bites over and over again as if we were too stupid to understand them the first time or he was too afraid to deviate from them. Mind you, they all sounded scripted. We need to fire the media consultants and find someone who can speak from the heart instead of repeating talking points.

    1. Don't tell that to Warren Kinsella. He's been cheerleading for Hudak's team from the very begining. I guess he's still sore over Sandra losing the Liberal leaders race last year. I think the old boy is losing it, he's calling for a Hudak majority.

    2. If you can catch any of Hudak's campaign you will find it is nothing more than a repetition ad nauseum of the sound bites you refer to.

    3. You can say what you want about Kinsella, but he's usually more right than he is wrong.

    4. No, Kinsella is not usually right. LOL.

    5. Whether or not Kinsella is usually right or wrong, he is extremely smart as a war room operative. He's certainly right about Pupatello: the Liberals, and the province, would be in much better shape had she been their leader.

  4. It doesn't matter who won. No-one lost big time. Voters are still left with Hudak's bad math and Wynne's scandal laden Liberals. The NDP barring a huge surprise in the next 8 days won't matter in who wins or loses this election.

    The Liberal vision of not taking an axe to government as opposed to Hudak's chop away attitude is what it all comes down to. Much more a matter of trust. Strangely as a life long Tory I trust Wynne more than Tim.

    The polls will begin to tell the story now. I'll guess that Hudak will experience some surge then deflate as we approach the 12th.

    Some measure of what Hudak is proposing is needed. I know and believe this yet will vote specifically to defeat him. I don't trust him. I hope Wynne will reverse course and do what needs to be done before we are in real trouble fiscally.

    1. Earl, What specifically don't you trust about Hudak?

    2. We can only hope. The bond market can be quite persuasive! But then the question is: what combination of spending cuts and tax increases will the govt attempt in order to right the ship? Just a thought, but Wynne, would likely to a 50-50 tax hike with cuts. That might be the "balanced" way to go, but the tax increase will be a further drag on economic growth. There is a no risk-free approach here. Hudak's spending cuts could immediately lower economic activity and therefore also carries risk. But so does Wynne's.

  5. With the new 308-aggregate, I get:

    53 OLP
    36 PC
    18 NDP

    With the EKOS numbers, I get:

    62 OLP
    29 PC
    16 NDP

    The Nanos results give me:

    57 OLP
    31 PC
    19 NDP

  6. @Earl " Wynne will reverse course and do what needs to be done before we are in real trouble fiscally."

    This is the captain of the Titanic speaking and the bad news is that we have run into a bit of an ice-berg. The good news is that the salt water pool is open on the lower decks.

    LOL Where does real fiscal trouble start for Ontario?? When the World bank and IMF start setting conditions?

    1. That's an interesting question. Canada is somewhat unique in the way an intermediate level of government has authority and control over debt. I believe it's not the same as State debt in the US. I think that ultimately it is the federal government that assumes responsibility first (and has to respond to creditors). The World bank and IMF only deal with national governments really. Also Ontario is a very long way away from any of that. A credit score of A or higher generally supports that fact. Even corporations with debt ratings of BBB are not considered to be all that terribly risky. The bigger issue is a debt rating downgrade could potentially increase the cost of borrowing which can be a huge negative.

  7. I think that what we will see is another Lib minority Govt with the NDP having the balance of power again. So the Wynne budget will get passed and we will see what happens.??

    1. What happens is the province's credit rating is downgraded - again - the moment that budget passes.

  8. Earl,

    If you don't plan on voting PC this time out you are not a "life long Tory" as for" Wynne will reverse course and do what needs to be done before we are in real trouble fiscally". BCVOR is correct Ontario already is in real trouble fiscally. Wynne also made three big spending promises last nigh; a Ontario Pension Plan, high speed rail to Windsor and more money for infrastructure, education and program spending.

    1. Formerly CP, this is the type of post that is actually pushing us moderate PC's to vote for the Liberals. I worked for the Ontario Big Blue Machine for many years because they knew how to cut the fat out of government, but still run the province as actual progressive-conservatives. Those of us asking for a more moderate approach to cuts are being shouted down by many who have become Republican style far right, and are now being called non PC. No, it is you who is not PC. You are the far right. For those of us who are moderate right, we have no choice but to punish Hudak, and to hope the PC party gets the message. The last two elections should have been a cake walk for the PC's. Even my Liberal friends didn't like McGuinty at all. Instead the far right is going to deliver another Liberal minority and the cuts that need to happen won't happen. This is the far right's fault. And yet you keep attacking real PC's.

    2. I felt John Tory was too much in the mould of Bill Davis. A slightly right of centre leader that could also find home in today's Liberal Party.

      Tim Hudak, of course, is the ideological successor of Mike Harris. And he is further to the right of Harris in certain aspects.

      The PCs basically need a leader who is ideologically right in between John Tory and Tim Hudak with more competence than both of them combined.

      I think the next PC leader might be MPP Vic Fedelli, party president Richard Ciano or a CPC MP with roots in Queen's Park like Kellie Leitch or Rick Dykstra. All of them I feel could be able to strike the perfect balance.

    3. The problem is that a 'moderate' approach really doesn't accomplish anything at all. The Liberals haven't even touched anything of substance from the Drummond Report, and they're the ones who commissioned the report in the first place! The deep cuts necessary to clean up the runaway spending under the Liberals are going to happen one way or another, either by a government we willingly elect to make those cuts, or by the province's creditors after rating downgrades which are already forthcoming should Wynne's budget be implemented. Calling for an end to this madness isn't "far right" - it's fiscal reality.

    4. I agree with you 11matt11: the current PC party is a party of exclusion which is why they keep losing. Frankly, they look like the party of big business: cut corporate taxes. Horvath is more appealing these days: cut taxes on small business!

    5. @11Matt11

      The moderates that you claim to want have left town a decade ago.

      Ontario is a HAVE NOT province. .....

      How in the world can that have happened???? There have not be anything close to moderates running Ontario for the last decade.

      If this is not fixed immediately (not moderately ) the downward spiral in the Ontario standard of living will accelerate.

    6. I don't think it's an issue with the "moderate" approach as opposed to an issue with the lack of any kind of practical plan and logical follow through which seems to be an issue with several political parties right now. Also the issue of blindly following any kind of ideology without concern of the possible consequences is also a problem. For example: transportation planning in the GTA.

    7. 11matt11,

      Ontario PCs and Tim Hudak are not "Republican style far right", that is the type of unfounded personal attack that is usually found emanating from the NDP. It is far from the moderate stance you claim to hold, in fact it is an extreme position that is usually held by ideologues of one type or another.

      If someone calls them self a "life long Tory" then in literally the next breath profess support for the Liberals it is pretty obvious that although they may have been a "life long Tory" that is no longer the case they have become a swing voter or they are simply being disingenuous.

      Please don't call me far right because I want Ontario to balance its books or heaven forbid have an economy that is growing! Sadly, it is also a personal attack and of the type most often emanating from ideologues of the Left not Bill Davis Tories. You have a very limited idea of what my political views are and I doubt you know me well enough to classify me into any category.

      As for "cuts" every government must make them and do whether NDP or PC. Reform is a necessary step in public policy. New technology and political, social and cultural challenges cause governments to change and refocus their priorities and programs. Without reform you get waste and inefficiencies. If Wynne is elected at the end of her mandate Ontario's debt to GDP ratio will be close to 66%-that is the path Ontario currently finds itself on. It is not sustainable and the cost will be borne not by us but, our children and grandchildren! Crunch time is here; Ontario's credit rating is AA2. Another Wynne-Howath budget may well be combined with another downgrade and higher debt servicing costs.

    8. "Ontario is a HAVE NOT province. .....

      How in the world can that have happened????"

      We are the largest jurisdiction in North America for auto manufacturing, with one in six jobs dependent on that, and the auto sector tanked with two of the big three forced into bankruptcy.

    9. Paul,

      What you are saying is over the course of many years Ontario became overly dependent on a single industry and made few attempts to diversify its economy. During that same time period it accrued significant debt that exacerbated its vulnerability to economic down turns.

  9. Interesting developments:

    Chantal Hebert piece in todays Star rips a strip off Hudak.

    Poll in the Globe gives Hudak the worst rating of the three.

    Seems some of the public weren't impressed by "talking point" repetition ?

  10. Eric, when I reviewed the age of voters in the Ekos tracking polls it shows about 20% of those polled under 45 years of age and 40% for both 45-65 and 65 years plus. These numbers seem way out of whack for the population of Ontario. Are these correct? If not, are they skewing the numbers in the tracking poll? It seems to me that over counting older voters adds to the PC numbers and reduces the NDP vote. What do you think?

    1. From what I can tell, those are unweighted so the skewing is not likely to be a problem (it can be corrected with the weights). But this is a bit of a problem with IVR, in that it is difficult to get a representative sample, and any oddities due to the sample size can be amplified when they are inflated in weight.

    2. You'd think though with those numbers it'd be more skewed toward the PCs.

    3. It really explains the over-stated Green support.

      On the 20% of the people under 45 in the survey if you get 2 or 3 supporters in the survey when the 20% is expanded to represent the population all of the sudden the Green support become significant.

      If they are using a simple weighting to reflect general population each person under 45 opinion counts for about 4 people over 65.

  11. Eric,

    It looks like you are adding the daily "rolling polls" by Ekos as independent polls of the size corresponding to three days of polling. I don't think this is statistically correct - there is a lot of overlap between the adjacent polls (meaning a lot of cross-correlation), so the std and other statistical measures are not right. If you have access to the raw data from Ekos, the correct thing would be to use only the data for one day in each poll. Errors will be larger, but they will be not correlated, and larger errors should mean your model will pay less attention to individual day polls.

    1. I explained how I am handling the rolling polls in my newest post.

  12. Simple comment somewhat based on the who won the debate polls.

    Hardly anyone feels that Hudak lost the debate.

    Since the whole premise of possibly voting Liberal was that Hudak was an absolute Train wreck of a Leader (think Lac-Mégantic).

    There have been numerous articles and comments that the PC has to get a better leader and Hudak was a reason for not voting CP.

    Now in direct comparison Hudak turns out to be at least the equivalent of Wynne and Horwath.

    So based on expectations..... set incredibly low for Hudak .... just by him not being totally humiliated in debate he won by far exceeding exceptions.

    While McGuinty turned out to be a corrupt, integrity challenged leader that led Ontario to have-not status he dominated debates and leadership comparisons by playing his Premier Dad role..... Ms. Wynne does not have the charisma or radiate the calmness of Mr. McGuinty and will not have a significant portion of McGuinty supporters motivated to vote for her.

    Get prepared for a CP majority with a clear mandate to fix what ails Ontario.


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