As the provincial election campaign continues, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives continue to sustain their lead, with a seemingly good chance at a majority government, as we get closer to June 2.
According to a poll from Research Co., conducted online with 700 Ontario adults from May 15 to May 17, 34 per cent of decided voters indicated they support the Ontario PC, 29 per cent support the Liberal, 23 per cent for NDP and seven per cent support the Green Party.
A poll from Innovative Research Group, an online survey of 700 Ontario residents conducted from May 12 to May 16, found that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are ahead with 36 per cent support at this point, compared to 31 per cent for the Liberals. The NDP has 23 per cent support and seven per cent indicated they will vote for the Green Party.
A survey from Abacus Data of 1,000 eligible voters in Ontario between May 12 and 15 found that 35 per cent of committed eligible voters plan to vote Conservative at this point, 28 per cent support the Liberals, 24 per cent NDP and seven per cent intend to vote for the Ontario Green Party.
“At this point, with the debate that we had [Monday], I would be very surprised if the opinion polls were wrong,” Dr. Geneviève Tellier, political studies professor at the University of Ottawa told Yahoo Canada.
The polls are pretty confident and consistent saying that this government is going to be a Conservative government, and there's a high probability that this will be a majority government.Dr. Geneviève Tellier, political studies professor at the University of Ottawa
As each party continues to promote its platform throughout the campaign, Tellier identifies that something missing from all platforms is a plan for the issue of cost of living, specifically outlined changes that would make a significant impact on the cost of living issue.
“They each have some initiatives that will help some categories of voters, for instance for [Conservatives] it’s more for people who have cars, while Liberals and NDP are more on public transport,” she explained. “You have different initiatives that can appeal to a different group of voters but there's nothing that will help everybody, and there's nothing to solve the crisis, and the reason is simple, because it's a global crisis, I don't think that any one provincial government can solve it.”
“I think that the cost of living will be on the mind of people, the decision for them is who's the best party to provide them some relief. All parties have some sort of relief to provide and I don't think one’s striking out, and so that would be to the advantage of the incumbent. Why change if you think that the end is going to be quite similar?”
'Will a new crisis emerge and if so, who's in the best position to deal with that?'
We continue to see Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford face questions about his COVID-19 pandemic response but in Tellier’s view, it isn’t particularly advantageous for opposition parties to continue to push that issue in arenas like debates.
“People won’t vote on, has the crisis been well managed,...voters are unusually forward looking,” she said. “The question is, will a new crisis emerge and if so, who's in the best position to deal with that? A lot of people will say, Doug Ford is able to do so, he has done it with the pandemic.”
“If you would have asked this question before the pandemic, I'm not sure that the people, starting with me, would have the same answer. There was kind of a question mark,...he was very polarizing and partisan… I think this explains, in part, why the Conservatives are high in the surveys.”
'I wouldn't be surprised to see polls going up for the Liberals'
For the Liberals, under party leader Steven Del Duca, Tellier highlights that it’s difficult to build momentum when the party only currently has seven MPPs, in addition to Del Duca personally being someone many Ontarians don’t know very well.
“People are still asking, what's the name of the leader of the Liberal Party. That's kind of strange,” Tellier said. “What he had to do [Monday] night with the debate was to get known better and also to present some very specific initiatives in his platform because the Liberal Party can serve, not just on its leader, but on its ideas.”
“I think he did that very well [Monday] because he was the leader that talked the most about their own proposals. I have a plan, I have a 19-point plan for cost of living. This is what I’m going to do, reduce the size of classes, $1 public transportation, so he was very specific, and so the debate probably could help the Liberals and Del Duca first, to be better known, and I think people will start to get interested in what the Liberals have to offer and will pay a bit more attention. I wouldn't be surprised to see polls going up for the Liberals.”
'They shouldn't be third in the polls'
When it comes to the NDP, Tellier believes it’s going to be “difficult” for Andrea Horwath to remain as leader, if the party ultimately ends the election in third place.
“They were so close at one point during the last campaign, the drop will be significant, I will say even now, it is a concern because they shouldn't be third in the polls,” Tellier said. “There were already some talks about if she should remain at the helm of the party the last time, some people within the party were disappointed, but I think no one emerged as a true challenger, somebody that could replace her.”
“I think that's often the problem with the NDP, not just Ontario, but across Canada, is who wants to be the leader.”
Ultimately, Tellier believes the NDP won’t be able to close the gap between their party and the Liberals in this election.
“They've done a mistake, I think, with the release of their costed platform this week, where it wasn't precise,... we're going to [have] some deficits, but we're not sure, it may be more than what we said,” Tellier said. “So you see a lot of indecision and uncertainty around that and we know that the NDP will spend more on many things, and it seems that Ontarians don't have an appetite for that.”
“How can you reverse that? It's probably too late to do so. Of course, nothing is impossible, but at the same time, I don't see how they can change the momentum. It's more for the Liberals and the Conservatives to lose the campaign and for the NDP to come up stronger, and get more support.”
'New solutions to old problems'
For the Ontario Green Party, Tellier identified that party leader Mike Schreiner had a good performance in the last debate, the question is if it’s enough to get more seats, but Tellier thinks that's unlikely.
"If you want an Ontario that's caring, connected, healthy and climate ready, the Ontario Greens are ready to lead," Schreiner said while campaigning in Toronto on Tuesday.
"The reality is, if we have more Green MPPs we can influence the conversation in a way that builds the Ontario you want, providing new solutions to old problems."