Exclusive Abacus poll
Libs and Tories tied in election battle
TORONTO -- It’s a dead heat.
With three weeks to go before the June 12 Ontario election, a new Abacus Data poll shows the Kathleen Wynne Liberals and the Tim Hudak Progressive Conservatives are tied with 33% support among committed voters.
Ontario’s New Democrats — led by Andrea Horwath — are in the hunt but trailing with 26% support.
Abacus Data Inc. CEO David Coletto said he will be closely tracking the two largest swing voter groups over the coming weeks: those who could vote either Liberal or NDP, and those who would vote either PC or Liberal.
“The New Democrats are in a very difficult position right now because the Liberals, I think, so far have been really successful, as the Conservatives have, as well, at polarizing this election around two choices,” Coletto said. “The NDP has kind of been silent on where they fit in those two world views.”
PC supporters appear to be more motivated to show up at the polling station, giving the Tories a small 3% lead over the Liberals among “committed likely” voters.
The Liberals are at the front of the pack in Toronto and eastern Ontario, and with female voters and those aged 30 to 44.
PCs enjoy the advantage in southwestern Ontario and are slightly ahead in the riding-rich 905 region around Toronto, and among seniors and male voters.
New Democrats are the favourites in Northern Ontario, with their voters tending to be the youngest, aged 18 to 29.
The Green Party of Ontario owns 6% of the committed vote.
Abacus Data found that more than two in 10 voters feel comfortable swinging between the Liberals and NDP but would never mark the ballot for the PCs.
These swing voters are more likely to be women, under age 60, and 42% work in the public sector.
About 10% of Ontario voters have completely written off the NDP but could be swayed to support either the Liberals or Tories, the poll revealed.
These voters tend to be 45 or older and the majority work in the private sector.
“The biggest liability for the Liberals and the biggest opportunity for the Conservatives is that suburban Toronto voter right now might not be thinking that the Liberals deserve to get another shot at it and are considering the Conservatives. And if they swing even partially towards the Conservatives, to a greater extent than they did last time, that’s where you can see a lot of seats shift hands,” Coletto said. “I think that’s where we should focus our attention, at least in terms of determining whether it’s going to be a Conservative or Liberal win. We don’t know if it will be a majority or a minority.”
Eastern Ontario residents, based on current polling numbers, seem set to repeat their voting patterns from the 2011 provincial election, and those in southwestern Ontario appear inclined to punish the Liberals, he said.
The Niagara and Hamilton areas show some opportunities for the NDP, and it will be interesting to see if the party can build on its success in Brampton, Coletto said.
The Liberal strategy will be to “scare” swing NDP voters into their camp, while Hudak has set out a conservative agenda to ensure his supporters show up on June 12, he said.
The Tories have the advantage of a “motivated” base, but growth potential is limited among overall voters, he said.
“The Tories — they have a ceiling and they’re fairly close to it right now,” Coletta said. “I think it would be hard for them to get beyond 40% of the vote.”