Ontario Politics: Liberals and PCs tied; 1 in 3 believe Wynne’s testimony that she wasn’t involved in gas plant cancellation decisions

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According to a new Ontario provincial survey, the Ontario Liberal Party led by Kathleen Wynne is now tied with the PC Party among decided voters.  Province wide, 34% of decided voters said they would vote for the Liberal Party while another 34% said they would vote for the PC Party.  Twenty-five percent said they would vote for the Ontario NDP led by Andrea Horwath.

Provincial Vote Intention

Since the end of March, the Ontario Liberal Party’s support among decided voters in the province is up six points and the incumbent Liberals are now tied with the PC Party at 34%.  The PC Party is down two points since March with the support of 34% of decided voters while the NDP’s slide continues with support now at 25% among decided voters, a three point drop since March and a six point decline since February 2013.

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Regionally, the Liberals have a commanding 16-point lead in Metro Toronto (OLP 43%, NDP 27%, PC 24%) while in the Greater Toronto/Hamilton Area surrounding Toronto the Liberals and PCs are now statistically tied with the PCs at 36% and the Liberals at35%.  The NDP is well back in third at 21% in the surrounding region around Toronto.

The PCs have a significant 10-point lead in eastern Ontario (PCs 43%, OLP 33%, NDP 19%) and a comfortable 9-point lead in Southwestern Ontario (PCs 37%, NDP 31%, OLP 28%),

In Northern Ontario, the NDP leads the Liberals by 15-points, 41% to 26% with the PCs running a close third to the Liberals at 23%.

The PCs continue to struggle in Toronto and Northern Ontario but are either tied or in the lead in the other three regions of the province.

In terms of demographics, the PCs have a six-point lead over the Liberals among men (PC 37%, OLP 31%, NDP 25%), while the Liberals have opened up a significant even-point lead among women (OLP 37%, PC 30%, NDP 26%).

The NDP is strongest among voters aged 18 to 29, leading the Liberals by 15 points while the Liberals lead among those aged 30 to 44 (OLP 44%, NDP 27%, PC 22%).  Among older Ontarians, the PCs lead holding a six-point lead among those aged 45 to 59 and a 13-point lead among those aged 60 and over.

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Does the Liberal Government deserved to be re-elected?

When respondents were asked whether the Liberal Government headed by Kathleen Wynne deserves to be re-elected, 26% of respondents said yes, while 44% said no.  Another 31% were unsure.

Among those who voted Liberal in the 2011 provincial election, 56% said the government deserved to be re-elected while 16% said they did not.  Twenty-eight percent of past OLP voters were unsure.

Also noteworthy is the fact that 23% of former NDP voters believed the Liberal Government deserved to be re-elected presenting an opportunity for Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals to replace lost voters and expand their support in regions where they lost support in 2011.  For Andrea Horwath, this is one of many data points that demonstrates the threat Kathleen Wynne poses to holding onto past support and growing beyond their 2011 numbers.

For Tim Hudak and the Tories, only 7% of past Tory voters believe that the Liberal government deserves to be re-elected while the vast majority (75%) believes it does not.  Tory supporters are the most stridently opposed to the Liberal government meaning that few will likely switch back to the Liberals if an election is called in the near future.

Gas Plant Cancellations

A majority of respondents said they had been following news of the gas plant cancellations either very closely (18%) or somewhat closely (37%).  Another 31% said they had not been following the issue closely while 14% had not heard about it at all.

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Among those aware of the issue, a plurality (45%) were aware of the potential costs for cancelling the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants while the remaining 55% were either unsure (22%) or selected a cost that was either higher or lower than the estimated $500 to $600 million.

Respondents aware of the gas plant cancellations were then shown a number of words or phrases that could be used to describe their reaction to the gas plant cancellations.  Fifty percent described their reaction as “angry” while 39% used the words “not surprised”.  One in three respondents were “shocked” while 10% were “shocked”.

The level of anger was lowest among those who said they would vote Liberal if a provincial election was held at the time of the survey (34%) while higher among PC supporters (67%) and NDP supporters (48%).

Finally, respondents were told that Premier Wynne had appeared before a legislative committee and testified that she was not involved in the decision to cancel the gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville. They were then asked whether they believed her.  Overall, 34% of respondents aware of the gas plant cancellations said they believed her while 45% said they did not.  Another 22% were unsure.

There was a strong relationship between voting intention and whether the respondent said they believed the Premier.  Sixty-four percent of Liberal supporters said they believed Kathleen Wynne compared with 14% of PC supporters and 28% of NDP supporters.

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Bottom Line

“The electoral landscape in Ontario is very volatile and all three parties have a road to victory,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto.

“Kathleen Wynne is not Dalton McGuinty.  She has reset the political calculus in the province and has breathed new life into the Ontario Liberals.”

“An election would not be a wise call for the NDP at this time,” said Coletto.  “The NDP trails in key regions of the province and with key demographic groups and Kathleen Wynne is as popular personally as Andrea Horwath.”

“The NDP has to find a new contrast point with the Liberals.  In 2011, its pitch to voters was that Horwath was different,” said Coletto.  “That contrast is gone with Kathleen Wynne as Premier.”

Methodology

The survey was conducted online with 1,185 Ontarians eligible to vote using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a representative online panel of over 150,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from May 7 to 9, 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 1,185 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.9%, 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.

For more information about the poll’s methodology or the results, please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.

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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