The Million Jobs Math puts the Hudak campaign at a Crossroads

To his credit, Tim Hudak designed his campaign to do what most of the modern political strategy textbooks tell you to do: remember that elections are usually about the economy.

But it isn’t always that simple.

First, perceptions of the economy aren’t great, but they aren’t bad enough to make it a foregone conclusion that the Liberals were going to be tossed.  Here’s some of the math:

  • 12% of Ontarians say the economy is performing “very poorly”. Of this group 3 out of 4 say the Wynne government is doing a lousy job.  (That’s 8% of voters)
  • Another 44% say the state of the economy is “poor”. Among these folks, half rate the government poorly.  (Another 22% of voters)

Taken together, this suggests the total number of voters who are unhappy at the state of the economy and blame Premier Wynne is roughly 30%.

million-jobs-bus

The risk for the Progressive Conservatives, heading into this week’s debate is that the campaign is turning into a test of confidence in Mr. Hudak and his economic ideas.

That’s not the kind of number that easily sweeps incumbents out of office, and it reflects the fact that for many people in the province, the wolf doesn’t seem to be on the doorstep.

Let’s slice into a few more numbers from our last poll.

Of all of those who think the economy is in poor or very poor (56%) shape, about 60% think it’s time for another party to take over.  That gives you about 34%.

No matter how you slice it, there’s nothing in these numbers that would make the case for the Progressive Conservatives to centre their campaign around a better jobs program.

And that’s before you consider that of the 34% who want a change in economic direction, many had doubts about Tim Hudak, even before events of this week.

  • Among those who say the economy is poor, half (48%) say Tim Hudak would do a poor job as an economic manager.
  • Among those who say the economy is “very poor” 61% think Hudak would do a bad job.

In other words, fewer than half of those who want a change in economic direction were confident that Hudak was the change they want.

An obvious first conclusion?  The Progressive Conservatives might have been better advised to campaign for change based on corruption, wasteful management and the deep fiscal hole the Liberals have dug.

But once they decided to base their campaign on a superior plan for job growth, they couldn’t afford but have a promising, highly credible, and defensible plan.  That’s why this week’s revelations about the Million Jobs math are so important.

The risk for the Progressive Conservatives, heading into this week’s debate is that the campaign is turning into a test of confidence in Mr. Hudak and his economic ideas.

Even without the brutally apparent errors in the job calculations, that would have been a tough campaign to win.  To have a hope of victory he must either turn the campaign focus back towards the issues that made more voters angry enough to want change, or somehow rebuild confidence in his own economic judgment, or both.  It’s a tall order.

Survey 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 May 21 to 24, 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 864 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.

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