Ontario Politics: Is Kathleen Wynne a change or more of the same?

Wynne: Change or More of the Same?  Ontarians are Split
Only 23% believe Ontario is headed in the right direction.

Please refer to the survey as: Abacus Data Poll
1,020 Ontarians, 18 years of age and older, February 5 to 6, 2013

Detailed tables

Ottawa, ON –A new provincial survey released by Abacus Data finds that while only one in four Ontarians think the province is headed in the right direction, 45% think that Kathleen Wynne will be a positive change for the province.

“Most Ontarians are looking for a change of direction in the province,” said Abacus Data CEO, David Coletto.  “The challenge for the new premier is highlighting the positive aspects of the Liberal record and downplaying the negatives while demonstrating that her government will be different from Mr. McGuinty’s.”

“Luckily for Premier Wynne, many Ontarians think Premier Wynne will bring needed change to the government,” added Coletto. “She has an opportunity to prove them right.”

Direction of the Province

When asked whether the province as a whole is headed in the right direction or whether it was off on the wrong track, 23% believed it was headed in the right direction while 50% believed it was off on the wrong track.  Another 27% of respondents were unsure.

Regionally, respondents in Southwestern Ontario were most pessimistic about the direction of the province while those living in Toronto (416 area code) were most optimistic.

A concern for Kathleen Wynne is that one in three 2011 Liberal voters (31%) think that the province is off on the wrong track while another 28% are unsure.  Her first few months in office should be about reassuring these past supporters that her government is different from the previous one and will not keep Ontario on the same track it is currently on.

“Any appearance that the Wynne government is just a carbon copy of the McGuinty government would likely be devastating for the Liberals,” said Coletto.  “Ontarians want a change of direction, new ideas, and some optimism that things are going to get better.”

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McGuinty vs. Wynne

Respondents were also asked to select which of three statements about Premier Wynne came closest to their view about whether she will be a change or not from Dalton McGuinty.

While a majority of respondents (55%) believed that not much will change and things won’t get better with Kathleen Wynne as premier, 45% were willing to give her a chance.

Thirty-five percent of respondents believed that Premier Wynne will bring needed positive change to the provincial government while another 10% believed she will keep doing the good work Dalton McGuinty’s government had been doing.

Most promising for the Liberals and Premier Wynne is that female and younger voters are most likely to think that she will bring needed positive change to the provincial government.  Andrea Horwath’s monopoly as the only female leader in Ontario is over giving the Liberals an opportunity to appeal to female voters rebuild support among a key part of their winning coalition.

Most challenging remains the fact that one in four former Liberal voters (27%) do not think Kathleen Wynne will change much .  This group is the most obvious target for persuasion since they have previously voted Liberal.

Bottom Line

A change in leadership always presents an opportunity and a threat for the political party in power.  In the case of Kathleen Wynne, she is taking control of a province whose population is unhappy with the current direction of the province.  While a majority of Ontarians think she will not bring positive change to the government, enough are willing to give her a chance to be meaningful for the Liberals.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,020 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a panel of over 150,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from February 5 to 6, 2013.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated.   The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1,020 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.