There finally may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Ontario Liberals.
After many months of trailing in the polls – years, even – a new survey by Campaign Research suggests the Grits could have managed to claw their way back into contention using promises of pharmacare and lower hydro bills.
The online poll sampled the opinions of 864 Ontario voters, 37 per cent of whom said they would vote Liberal if a provincial election were held tomorrow. Another 34 per cent said they would support the Progressive Conservatives, which was within the poll's margin of error, and 22 per cent were backing the NDP.
Campaign Research CEO Eli Yufest chalked up the Liberals’ improvement to their recent policy announcements, such as pharmacare for Ontarians under the age of 25 and the government’s plan to reduce the average hydro bill by another 17 per cent. Also, the government recently tabled its first balanced budget since 2008, unveiled reforms aimed at cooling the real estate market and released details of a basic income pilot project, which proved popular among voters in another Campaign Research poll.
“We know that that’s what’s driving the strong results we’re seeing for the Liberals,” Yufest told QP Briefing in an interview. “What the electorate hears, they like.”
But Premier Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating is up only slightly in the poll (provided exclusively to QP Briefing; it can be viewed below), to just 19 percent, a two percentage point improvement over a Campaign Research survey done in April.
The latest poll asked if voters think Wynne will still be Liberal leader come the next election, scheduled for June 7, 2018. Of those surveyed, 42 per cent said Wynne will still be leading the Grits, while 26 per cent predicted she would be gone and 34 per cent weren't sure.
PC Leader Patrick Brown’s approval rating was sitting at 29 per cent in the latest Campaign Research poll (up from 24 per cent in April) and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was winning the popularity contest with 40-per-cent support (up a single percentage point from April). The poll found that 35 per cent of the voters thought the PCs will win the 2018 election, while 25 per cent picked the Liberals and 11 per cent bet on the NDP.
Yufest, however, said the Liberal government's current position still allows them to set the political agenda, and pointed out that Brown remains unknown to many voters. The Campaign Research poll found 47 per cent of those surveyed had no opinion of the PC Leader.
“He basically has the largest number of people that just don’t know anything about him," Yufest said.
But the poll's findings break a long string of surveys that showed the Grits trailing the Tories. An April poll by Campaign Research pegged Liberal support at 31 per cent, while the PCs and NDP had 36 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. A recent Forum Research poll had the Tories at 41 per cent, the Liberals at 28 per cent and the NDP at 23 per cent.
“What happens in the future, I can’t tell you for sure," Yufest said. "But I can tell you the Liberals are clearly on the right track with their recent announcements, and the results of the poll clearly show that."
The online poll was done between May 9 and 13. Campaign Research says a survey sample of this size would have a margin of error of four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.Ontario Horserace Release (05 16 2017)