Perceptions of the Economy Improve but Jobs and Economy still Top Issue

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The economy and jobs continues to be the central issue of concern for the most voters in the Ontario election. Despite the importance of the economy on the election, the Tories or NDP have not benefited much.  While its Million Jobs Plan as set the agenda for the campaign, Tory support has stalled.

As our chairman, Bruce Anderson wrote about last weekend, “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.”

Why?  Perceptions about the state of the economy in Ontario have actually improved slightly over the course of the campaign.

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In our most recent survey, 48% of eligible voters rated the Ontario economy as very good or good while 52% believed it was poor or very poor.  Regional divides continue to exist with the southwestern region being most pessimistic about the economy and the GTA region being most positive about it.

Over the course of the election campaign, perceptions about the economy have improved, despite the messages from the PC campaign that things have never been worse in Ontario.  The rhetoric from the PC campaign isn’t matching the feelings of many voters across the province, especially in the GTA region where the Tories need a break through.

Will last night’s leaders’ debate change focus of the campaign?  It’s too early to tell.  But it is clear that the Tories and the NDP were trying to bring attention back to Liberal mismanagement and scandal while at the same time bringing more focus to the weak state of public finances and economic growth in the province.  Our poll next week will help us better understand if the debate and the opposition’s attempt to change the ballot question has worked.

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Key Findings

  • Jobs and the economy continue to be the top issues of the campaign with for one in three eligible voters in Ontario (35%) selecting it as the top issue.
  • Honesty and accountability in government (15%), health care (11%), deficit and debt (9%) , and taxes (6%) rounding out the top five.
  • PC core voters are more likely to identify debt, deficits and accountability as their top issue, while OLP core voters are most likely to identify jobs and the economy.
  • The Liberal advantage on economic management, among those who care most about the issue, has all but disappeared.
  • Ontarians continue to be split in their evaluations of the provincial economy but since last week, perceptions have improved slightly.  48% of eligible voters rate the current provincial economy as very good or good while 52% rate it as poor or very poor.
  • Residents of SW Ontario (postal code N) remain the most likely to be pessimistic about the Ontario economy.
  • None of the major parties or leaders have a significant advantage on economic management competence.

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 28 to 31, 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. For more information please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.