COUNSEL POLL: Ford PCs Still on Track for Majority; Race Tightening in Key Regions
Toronto – May 20, 2022
A new public opinion poll by Counsel Public Affairs immediately following the Leaders debate on May 16, 2022, confirms that Premier Ford’s PC Party remains on track for a re-election to a second majority government mandate – with key findings revealing that campaign momentum could still change the dynamic of the race and its outcome in the final two weeks.
Province-wide, Doug Ford’s PCs hold a 9-point lead among decided or leaning voters with 36.9% (+2.0% from January) of the vote, compared to 27.5% (+3.3%) for the Ontario Liberals led by Steven Del Duca and 24.3% (-6.2%) for the Andrea Horwath-helmed Ontario NDP.
This is a solid and stable lead for the PCs, driven by continuing strength in the inner suburbs of Toronto and parts of the suburban GTA, as well as potential growth for the PCs in more traditional NDP regions of Southwest Ontario and Northern Ontario. Diving more deeply into the regional breakdowns, the poll also shows growing strength for the Liberals in Peel and Halton, while the NDP continues to maintain a highly competitive position in Toronto and Southwestern Ontario.
“While the top-line levels of support have remained fairly steady in the lead up to this campaign and throughout, the underlying regional shifts tell a different story,” explained David Murray, Senior Manager of Polling and Government Relations with Counsel Public Affairs. “Across key regions – like Peel, Halton, Hamilton and central Toronto – there have been shifts, mostly in favour of the Liberals, which have changed the race considerably. These races are now more competitive – and if these trends hold the Liberals will pick up seats.”
Using these levels of support, and running them through Counsel’s seat projection models, if the election were held today, the PCs would have a majority government with 66 seats, the Ontario Liberals would be at 31 (up from their current 7), and the NDP would be at 26, down from their high-water mark of 40. The Green Party will continue to hold one seat.
David Murray continued: “A PC majority government is within reach, although not certain. Within the margin of error, these results could also translate to a few seats short of majority which would create a minority parliamentary scenario. Likewise, with a strong get-out-the-vote organization, the PCs could pick up more seats in suddenly tight three-way races scattered across the province.”
“One of the key outstanding questions to observe as the campaign enters its final leg, is whether we will see any further shift of NDP votes to the Liberals. These results, like most other public polls, show the Del Duca Liberals winning the “progressive primary” over the NDP. Will anti-Ford voters coalesce around the alternative that is perceived to be more winnable? Our research suggests it is possible,” said Murray.
Among both NDP and Green Party supporters, the poll shows there is a strong sentiment to vote strategically to potentially block or limit the size of a PC Party government: nearly half of the voters currently aligned with either party express a definite willingness to change their vote to stop Doug Ford from winning.
“The NDP was hoping for an orange wave in this election, but their results suggest an orange squeeze. Ms. Horwath’s party is losing support in areas like Toronto and Peel to the Liberals, especially as some progressive voters vote strategically, and to the PCs in places like Southwest Ontario and the North, as blue-collar workers take to Ford’s ‘Get it done’ message,” said Murray. “No matter how you slice it, the NDP is at real risk of losing seats.”
As predicted in Counsel’s January poll, Peel Region is shaping up to be the most hotly contested battleground. Although the earlier poll showed a PC Party lead, today’s results show that 37% of voters (decided or leaning) in Peel now say they plan to vote Liberal, despite no Liberal-held seats prior to the campaign. Much of this support seems to reflect voters migrating away from the NDP, who are now down to 19%, putting the three NDP seats in the region in jeopardy. The PCs trail in Peel with 34%, but at that level of support, they will be very competitive in many of the seats – with a patchwork result in both Mississauga and Brampton being a plausible outcome.
The same story is seen in both Halton Region and Hamilton, where the Liberals have opened a lead with 34%, compared to 28% for the NDP and 26% for the Tories.
Although this may cause some concern for the PC Party, a different story is shaping up in the outer boroughs of Toronto – Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke – where “Ford Nation” is strong. The PCs have support from 41% of those polled, compared to 29% for the Liberals and 21% for the NDP. A similar trend has carried over into both York and Durham Region, where the PCs are comfortably maintaining a lead. Consolidating this support will be fundamental to the PC Party’s goal of a second majority government – if either opposition party hopes to make a breakthrough, it must erode this lead considerably.
In the rest of the Province, the PCs have a comfortable lead – ranging from 39% in Eastern Ontario to 46% in Southwest and 33% in the North. There are ridings within these regions where interesting and close races are shaping up, but the overall trend in these regions seems baked in with a stable Tory lead. The North is a potential source of alarm for the Ontario NDP, who performed strongly in this region in the last election.
Mike Schreiner’s Green Party has moved up in the polls since Counsel’s January survey, with support now standing at 6.1%. With strength coming off a strong debate performance and effective ads, time will tell if this support sustains until election day, or if Green voters break off to join either the NDP or Liberals.
The full summary of findings and analysis from Counsel’s poll can be found at counselpa.com/counsel-research.
Counsel surveyed 2,206 people over the period of May 17 and May 18, 2022 using the Lucid Exchange Platform, which blends a variety of partner panels. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. Results were sub-regionally weighted to the 2016 Census for age, birth sex, and education, along with 2018 provincial vote.
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