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Voter intent narrowing between Progressive Conservatives and Liberals

Provincial Liberal and Conservative leaders continue to not impress Ontario voters

The eighth wave of Campaign Research’s poll – an online public opinion omnibus survey conducted among a sample of 1347 Ontario voters – found that the gap in voter intent between the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives (PCs) continues to narrow. Ontarians’ voting intent for the PCs steadily decreased from 39% in July to 36% this month. The Liberals remained consistent in regard to voting intent with a variation of only 1% to 2% from July to October 2017.

One explanation for the 4% difference in voter intent between the PCs and Liberals could be a result of Ontarians’ unfamiliarity with Patrick Brown (30% do not know much about Patrick Brown and 24% know nothing). This lack of awareness is prevalent among all age groups (18 to 65+) and both genders.

Patrick Brown’s approval rating also decreased since July 2017. His approval rating peaked at 30% in July, while this month our poll indicated an approval rating of 25%. While Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating remains consistently low, the difference between Premier Wynne’s and Patrick Brown’s approval is narrowing. In fact, the difference between the two candidates in July was a sizeable 13%. In our most recent study, this gap halved to 6%. Currently, Patrick Brown’s net approval rating is 0% (25% approve minus 25% disapprove). This low approval rating may be attributed to either a lack of aggressiveness to promote himself, or a general ineffectiveness to form a lasting impression on Ontarians.

Public awareness is not an issue for Kathleen Wynne (80% of Ontarians are familiar with her). However, Premier Wynne’s greatest hurdle seems to be improving her popularity. While her approval rating is competitive with Patrick Brown’s, this phenomenon is not a product of any significant increases on her end. Since May 2017, Kathleen Wynne hovered around a 17% to 19% approval rating. In an effort to augment her appeal, Kathleen Wynne made a series of policy announcements such as increasing the minimum wage as well as a minimum three-week vacation for employees who have been with a company for five or more years. Our poll in June confirmed that Ontarians unanimously supported these policies (both males and females between the ages of 18 to 55+).

The popularity of Kathleen Wynne’s policy announcements did not equate to an increase in her appeal, as her current net approval rating is -45% (64% disapproval minus 19% approval). However, it did help improve her party’s appeal with voter intent remaining consistent around 30% to 32% since April 2017. It may be the case that Ontarians are willing to divorce the party from its leader and vote Liberal to support similar initiatives in the future. This places significant pressure on Patrick Brown as well as Andrea Horwath, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Ontario, to engineer similarly favoured policies.

Andrea Horwath remains competitive with Patrick Brown and Kathleen Wynne in terms of popularity. In fact, she is the only candidate to have a positive net approval rating (18%). However, it seems that Ontarians are still uncertain that she would be the best candidate to govern the province (19%).

“Patrick Brown’s inability to captivate Ontario voters continues to keep this race competitive. If he remains unknown to Ontarians, their support for the Liberal’s policies, or Andrea Horwath’s appeal, may win the day” – Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research Inc. Eli can be reached at or (647) 931-4025 ext. 109.

METHODOLOGY This online poll was conducted between October 8 and 11, 2017 among a panel of 1347 Ontario voters. A probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7%, 19 out of 20 times.

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