Too Close to Call: Liberals and Tories Tied at 36% Among Likely Voters; NDP at 23%

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As voters head to the polls on Thursday, the election is too close to call.  While the Liberals lead by three points among eligible voters, the Tories and Liberals are tied among likely voters, with 36% each.  The NDP’s gains in our last survey have been sustained although they continue to do well among eligible voters with 26% support.  However, among likely voters, NDP support has dropped to 23%.

The big wildcard in the election is turnout and the motivation of voters as they decide whether to vote at all.  We know that PC voters are more motivated which could make the difference in breaking the tie we report from the survey.

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We are not in a position to call this election for either party.  It is clear that either the Liberals or the PCs will win the most votes, and either could also win the most seats.  However, we are not making any seat projections.

Despite a long and often negative campaign, our numbers have been consistent throughout the campaign.  The Liberals have been ahead among eligible voters since our second week of tracking with the Tories around the low thirties and the NDP around the mid-twenties.  While the leaders’ debates stalled Liberal momentum, its effect was not substantial enough to  prevent the Liberals from winning.

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Kathleen Wynne has also consistently led as best premier, demonstrating the dilemma many voters are facing as they head out to vote on Thursday.  Many like Wynne personally but also think its time for a change.  That’s the conflict percolating within many swing voters’ thinking.

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For  Tim Hudak, the opposite is true.  A majority of voters have a negative impression of him, and even among PC supporters, positive impressions  are tepid at best.  But for voters seeking change, he is their best hope.  If he wins on Thursday it is because the PC base was motivated and turned out en masse in an otherwise low turnout election.

Finally, for Andrea Horwath, the expectations she and the NDP had at the start of the campaign will likely not be met. Our polling suggests they should do as well as last time in terms of votes, but that might not be enough for many of her critics, especially if the Tories form government.

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Key Findings

  • The Liberals have a 3-point lead over the PCs among committed eligible voters.  There has been little movement in the overall numbers since last week.
  • Among likely voters, the Liberals and PCs are at 36% each with the NDP in third at 23%.
  • Liberals lead in Toronto, among those aged 30 to 44, among public sector employees, and among women.
  • Tories lead in Eastern Ontario and among those aged 60.
  • The NDP leads in the North and is tied with the PCs in Southwestern Ontario.
  • Kathleen Wynne has a 5-point lead over Tim Hudak on who would make the best Premier.  Among likely voters Wynne leads by only 2 (Wynne 30%, Hudak 28%, Horwath 19%).
  • 55% of eligible voters believe it is time for another party to take over, up 1 since last week.  23% believe the Liberals deserve to be re-elected, unchanged since last week.
  • 20% of respondents said the election was about electing a government they could trust while another 20% said it was about how to deal with the economic problems facing the province.  15% percent said it was about electing a party that would do the best job on health, education, and other public services while 16% said it was about preventing Tim Hudak from winning the election.

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Methodology

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted online with 1,882 respondents who are eligible to vote in Ontario. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Ontarians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples. The survey was conducted from June 9 to 11, 2014.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys.   The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 1,653 committed voters of the same is +/- 2.5 %, 19 times out of 20.

Likely voters were identified by creating a six-point scale based on seven questions about a respondents interest in politics, their intention to vote, whether they have voted already, and the attention they have paid to the election campaign.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.