Wynne still ahead as “Best Premier” but unsure up on measure

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Yesterday, we reported that the Liberals hold a small lead over the Tories but that little has changed in voting intentions in the past week of the campaign.  While a majority of eligible voters in Ontario want change and only 24% think the Liberals deserve to be re-elected, a large portion are not yet ready to pass judgment on the Wynne government.

The stable horse race numbers mirror perceptions about the political party leaders. While NDP Leader Andrea Horwath continues to have the most favourable personal numbers (or the least negative), Kathleen Wynne continues to have a small advantage on who would make the best Premier.  Although, the percentage of undecided respondents on the best premier question has increased to 41%.

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There is little evidence in our data that Horwath’s shift to the centre, which has angered a number of NDP activists, has hurt her reputation with much of the NDP’s voting base.  Among those in the NDP core, 72% have a positive impression of the NDP Leader, a number comparable or stronger than the equivalent for Kathleen Wynne or Tim Hudak among their core supporters.

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The results continue to suggest that many eligible voters have still not paid much attention to the campaign or are not satisfied with the choices on offer.  With a high percentage saying they are unsure which leader would make the best Premier, the opportunity for a big shift in vote intention is still possible.

Andrea Horwath still has the best opportunity going forward to capitalize on the fluidity of the electorate as fewer voters have a negative impression of her.  If she performs well in debate in Northern Ontario and in the leaders’ debate on June 3, voters may be receptive to her message.

Key Findings

  • Andrea Horwath continues to have the best leadership evaluation among eligible voters.  Her net impression is +10, compared with  -6 for Kathleen Wynne and -21 for Tim Hudak.
  • Kathleen Wynne leads by three on “Best Premier” among eligible voters but the percentage of eligible voters saying they are unsure is up from last week:  Wynne 23%, Hudak 20%, Horwath 16%, Unsure 41%.
  • Wynne leads as best Premier among all age groups except for those aged 60 and over.  Among the oldest group of voters, Hudak has a four-point lead over Wynne.
  • •While prominent NDP members and supporters may have expressed frustration with the NDP, there doesn’t seem to be much hostility among the broader NDP base.  Among the core NDP support group, 72% have a positive impression of Andrea Horwath compared to 2% who have a negative impression.
  • When it comes to who would make the best Premier, Wynne leads her competitors in two key swing groups – those who would consider voting PC and Liberal (Wynne 30% vs. Hudak 16%) and those who would consider voting Liberal and NDP (Wynne 39% vs. Horwath 19%).
  • Sixty seven percent of those in the “swing” group (would consider voting for all three parties) are unsure who would make the best Premier.

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