A new poll suggests half of Ontario's decided voters will cast their ballots in next week's provincial election not to support their favoured party, but to block the one they oppose.
- The NDP is maintaining its lead in polls, but its voter base isn't the most "committed"
- The PCs are seen as the party that will form the best government
- The campaign hasn't been kind to the Liberals. Surprise!
The data from the Angus Reid Institute's survey, released on Wednesday, paints a picture of an electorate that's not exactly enthralled by its options.
Fifty-two per cent of voters who indicated they were voting for the NDP, for example, said they were doing so not in support of the party and its ideas, but because they disliked the other choices "even more." Forty-nine per cent of PC voters and 42 per cent of Liberal voters had a similar response.
A key factor behind this strategic voting — and perhaps an ominous sign for the governing Liberals — is an enormous appetite for change from voters, according to the polling firm.
A whopping 70 per cent of respondents said they wanted a different government in Ontario and that the Liberal party and its leader, Kathleen Wynne, should be shown the door. Just 14 per cent said the party should be re-elected. The Liberals have been in power since 2003.
This wave of loathing for the premier hasn't come out of nowhere, of course. Wynne has been named Canada's least popular premier in the Angus Reid Institute's surveys since September 2016.
The election campaign doesn't seem to have made a dent in that wall of bad rep, according to the firm. Respondents were more likely to say their opinion of Wynne and PC leader Doug Ford worsened than improved over the past few weeks.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, has seen the opposite effect from the campaign. Her "momentum score" — the percentage of voters whose opinion of the leader worsened subtracted from the percentage of those who say it's improved — came in at 13 per cent, the only one of the three leaders that's positive.
In another question, the poll asked respondents for their opinion of each leader. Again, Horwath came in first place with 60 per cent saying they had a favourable view of the NDP leader. Thirty per cent and 34 per cent said the same for Ford and Wynne, respectively.
Horwath was also seen as the leader who would make the best premier by 34 per cent of respondents, while 25 per cent said the same for Ford and 14 per cent chose Wynne.
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Overall, the Angus Reid Institute's poll put the NDP at 39 per cent support with the PCs at 37 per cent. This mirrors several polls commissioned in the last two weeks of the campaign that have shown the NDP either leading or virtually tied with the PCs.
This rapid rise in support for Horwath's NDP has come at the heavy expense of Wynne's Liberals, according to the poll. A shocking 45 per cent of respondents who opted for the Liberals in 2014 now say they want to go for Team Orange. Ten per cent of voters from that group say they are opting for the PCs this time.
Another sign of potential good news for Horwath's NDP is that just 20 per cent of respondents said they would "never" vote for her party. That's compared to 41 and 40 per cent of voters who said they would not consider voting for the Liberals, and PCs, respectively.
But it's not all good news for the NDP.
When asked which party would form the best government, 33 per cent of the poll's respondents opted for the PCs. Their voter base also seems more committed, according to the polling firm.
Fifty-five per cent of decided PC voters, for example, were "absolutely certain" they would cast their ballot in favour of Ford's party. Twenty-seven per cent and 16 per cent had similar attitudes for the NDP and the Liberals, respectively.
Ontario voters head to the polls on June 7.
The poll was conducted online between May 27–29 among 773 Canadian adults in Ontario. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.