Liberals lead Tories by 3 as NDP gains.

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As we head into the final week of the 2014 Ontario election campaign, the race is too close to call.  Since last week, support for the Liberals is down three points while NDP support is up four.  The Liberals continue to do well in Toronto and in the communities surrounding Toronto but their support has slipped in other parts of the province.

The uncertainty of the election is related to the fact that there is no dominant ballot question.  When we asked respondents what the Ontario election has been about, no answer was selected by more than one in five eligible voters.  If that shifts between now and June 12, we could be in for a surprise.

If the election is about electing a government they can trust, the Tories and NDP will do well.  If it is about dealing with the economic troubles facing the province, the Tories will win.  But if the election is about stopping Tim Hudak and protecting social programs, the Liberals will win.  If it is about all these factors, we are likely in for a minority legislature, similar to that produced by the 2011 election.Ballot1

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Liberals

The past week has been tough for the Liberals.  Their support is down three points, Kathleen Wynne’s personal numbers have worsened, and more people would be dismayed if the Liberals formed government after June 12.  However, Wynne still leads as best premier over Hudak and Horwath.

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PCs

Hudak’s positive debate performance did little to improve PC support.  In fact, Hudak’s personal numbers have actually worsened since before the debate.  For the first time in our tracking, a majority of eligible voters have a negative impression of the PC leader.   However, Tory supporters are the most committed and they are more likely to vote.  If the rise in NDP supports holds out until election day, that could benefit the Tories in some close ridings around the GTA.

NDP

Although Horwath’s debate performance was neither great nor poor, NDP support has risen largely as a result of increasing unease with either the Liberals or the Tories.  They lead in the North, are competitive in southwestern Ontario, and have strong support in electoral districts they currently hold.

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Key Findings

  • The race has tightened among eligible voters with the Liberals now leading the Tories by 3 points.  NDP support is up four points since last week, the highest we have tracked since the start of the campaign – OLP 34%, PC 31%, NDP 28%.
  • Among likely voters, the Liberals and PCs are tied with the NDP eight points back in third – OLP 34%, PC 34%, NDP 26%.
  • Liberals lead in Toronto, among those aged 30 to 44, among public sector employees, and are tied with the NDP among women.
  • Tories lead in the SW, among those aged 45 to 59, among private sector employees, and among men.  They are now tied with the Liberals among those aged 60 and over.
  • The NDP leads in the North.
  • 54% of eligible voters believe it is time for another party to take over, up 6 since last week.  24% believe the Liberals deserve to be re-elected, unchanged since last week.
  • 21% 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.
  • 32% of eligible voters think the Liberals will win while 25% think the PCs will win.  Four in ten (39%) are unsure who will win the provincial election.
  • The percentage of eligible voters with negative impressions of Kathleen Wynne and Tim Hudak increased since the previous wave of research.  For Kathleen Wynne, her net favourable score decreased by five points (from -8 to -13) while Hudak’s decreased score by seven points (from -23 to -30).  In contrast, Andrea Horwath’s net favourable score increased by two points (from +5 to +7).
  • Kathleen Wynne still leads as “best Premier”: Wynne 27%, Hudak 21%, Horwath 20%, 31% unsure.
  • Our most recent survey has also found a slight decline in enthusiasm for a Liberal government and a rise in the number of people who would be dismayed if the Liberals formed a government after June 12.  In our last wave of research, 36% said they would be dismayed with a Liberal government.  In this wave, 41% said they would be dismayed.
  • A weakening of the Liberal situation has not improved things for the Tories however.  Perceptions about a PC government were largely unchanged with 46% saying they would be dismayed with a PC government and 18% saying they would be delighted.

Methodology

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted online with 1,000 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 4 to 7, 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 +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 875 committed voters of the same is +/- 3.4 %, 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.