Ontario Liberals in hard fight regardless of next leader, survey finds

Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Gerard KennedyA leaflet handed out at the Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention screamed a promise of success for the party should candidate Gerard Kennedy be declared the next leader.

“Kennedy-led Liberals would win minority in next election,” the release read, citing a new Forum Research poll based on a random sampling of some 1,100 Ontario residents.

Great news for the Kennedy camp, and great timing to be sure. Except, the survey itself suggests only a slight improvement with Kennedy over frontrunners Sandra Pupatello and Kathleen Wynne.

According to the poll, Kennedy would capture about 30 per cent of the vote in the next general election, enough to grab 50 of Ontario’s seats based on the way the support would fall across the province. The PCs would receive 31 per cent support and 34 seats, while the NDP would garner 32 per cent support and grab 23 seats.

[ Related: Ontario Liberal leadership candidates make pitch to be premier ]

The poll suggests that an election involving a “generic” Liberal leader would drop support to 27 per cent and leave the party tied with the PCs at 40 seats, ahead of the NDP with 27 seats. Pupatello and Wynne are said to hold no marked difference from a “generic” leader.

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The poll was released after Kennedy made a convention speech championing himself as the most populous option, stressing his ability to bring support from outside the party’s core.

"If an election was called today, the Conservatives would win. The NDP would edge us out for second place. And we would go from a governing party of three successive terms to third party status," he said.

"We will not let that happen. That's why we're here."

Perhaps most interesting about the poll is that it found that the Liberal party has received no boost from this weekend of political rah-rahing.

The Toronto Star reports that the Liberals would be “mired in third place” regardless of which leader wins.

That part wasn't exactly spelled out in the leaflet released at the Liberal convention on Saturday.

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