Gas plants, budget deals, and a new Premier: What’s going on in Ontario Politics?

Last week, we released a poll that found the Ontario Liberal Party and PC Party of Ontario tied at 34% among decided voters with the NDP in third at 25%.  The Liberals are up six points since March while the NDP is down three and the PCs are down two.

This survey found that while only one in four Ontarians believe that the Liberal Government led by Kathleen Wynne deserves to be re-elected, the incumbent Liberals are tied for the lead with the opposition Tories at 34% support among decided voters.

How then can so few Ontarians believe that the Liberals deserve to be re-elected and yet the party is tied in the polls?

1.       Kathleen Wynne is personally popular and trusted (see poll released Monday).

Wynne is as personally popular as Andrea Horwarth and large majorities of eligible voters believe she is likeable, has sound judgment, and is honest.   People like her and believe her best days are still ahead of her.  Even with the challenges the government faces over the gas plant cancellations, 61% of respondents agree that Kathleen Wynne is honest compared with only 42% who share the same views about opposition leader Tim Hudak.

2.       Tim Hudak is unpopular and the Tories struggle in Metro Toronto.

In contrast to Kathleen Wynne, Tim Hudak’s personal numbers are quite weak with only 21% of eligible voters have a positive impression of him and 46% viewing him negatively.   While the Tories have a large advantage among those who care about the provincial deficit and debt, they only have a slight advantage  among those who care about economic development.  They are also tied with the NDP among those who care about government accountability.  The PCs and Tim Hudak are not yet seen as a viable alternative by enough voters.

 3.       The NDP is not trusted to manage the Ontario economy.

While Andrea Horwath is personally popular (positive 33%, neutral 32%, negative 24%), the NDP struggles when it comes to competence around economic management, job creation, and deficit and debt.  Only 15% of respondents picked the NDP when they were asked which party they trust the most to manage the economy.  While the party is strong in Northern and Southwestern Ontario, they trail either the PCs or NDP in vote rich Toronto and the GTHA.

 4.       Reaction to the gas plant cancellations while intense among PC supporters, is not strong enough yet with enough voters to remove the Liberals from contention.

Although 50% of respondents aware of the gas plant cancellation issue described their reaction as angry, another 39% said they were not surprised by the issue.  Anger is most pronounced among Tory supporters but less intense among NDP and Liberal supporters.  Enough voters are willing to give Kathleen Wynne a pass on the issue with 34% saying they believe her when she said she wasn’t involved in the decisions to cancel the two gas power plants.  Moreover, a majority of Ontarians believe that local communities should have the final say on whether a power plant is built in a community and so the decision to cancel the plants, even if politically motivated, aligns with majority opinion on how decisions about new power plants should be made.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248

E: david@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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