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Doug Ford's PCs polling comfortably as spring's legislative sitting concludes

Bonnie Crombie's Liberals are potential Ontario voters' second preference, according to a new poll
In Toronto on May 24, 2024, Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement at a gas station saying the province is speeding up the expansion of alcohol sales.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on The Trillium, a Village Media website devoted to covering provincial politics at Queen’s Park.

As the spring sitting wraps up at Queen's Park, Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives appear to be sitting pretty as Ontarians' preferred pick to lead the province, according to a new public opinion poll.

The poll, conducted by Pallas Data for The Trillium, indicates Bonnie Crombie's Liberals trail the PCs as the preferred choice of the second-most potential voters in the province. They are followed closely by the Marit Stiles-led New Democrats and Mike Schreiner's Green party, which is in a distant fourth place.

Pallas Data's automated telephone survey on June 4 was of 1,136 eligible voters. The result was a sample with a 2.9 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

Among potential voters who said they'd either decided on, or were leaning toward, voting for a party, 39.4 per cent said they'd cast their ballot for the PCs if an election were held right now. Another 26.5 per cent indicated they'd vote for the Liberals, while 22.6 per cent said they'd vote NDP, 8.3 per cent said they'd cast their ballot for the Greens, and 3.2 per cent said they'd select another party.

If the poll's results were replicated in an election, its result would be another comfortable majority government for Ford's PCs, according to Joseph Angolano, Pallas Data's founder and CEO.

Ford's PCs' first two majority mandates came from elections they won with 40.5 and 40.8 percent of votes, respectively.

Pallas Data's survey of potential voters found the PCs favoured in five of six regions, excluding only the Hamilton-Niagara corridor. It also showed the Liberals as voters' preference ahead of, or effectively equal to, the NDP in every region. Regional findings and other smaller subsets are subject to higher margins of error due to the lower sample sizes. 

"(The PCs) are in the position they're in, I think, because they've done an excellent job of identifying who their base is," Angolano said. "They know that they traditionally do not drop below a certain level," he added, noting the PCs haven't gotten less than 30 per cent of votes in a general election since 1990.

"There's also a strong personal brand to Doug Ford and he appeals to that base ... and as long as (the PCs) can keep those voters happy, they're going to win and there's not much that the NDP or the Liberals can do about it," Angolano said.

Two-thirds of respondents who said they'd vote for the PCs said they thought the Ford government was doing either a "very good" (28 per cent) or "somewhat good" (38 per cent) job so far in 2024. Eighteen per cent indicated they felt the Ford government was doing a "neither good or bad" job, while just 14 per cent said they felt it was doing a "somewhat bad" (seven per cent) or "very bad" (seven per cent) job this year.

Only a small portion (14 per cent) of respondents who identified themselves as likely to vote for the PCs said they'd be less inclined to if the election was called before June 6, 2026, its fixed date. Ford could call it early, and has signalled in recent weeks that the idea is at least in play. He did rule out calling an election this summer or fall in a radio interview last week, however.

Pallas Data's survey also attempted to gauge whether parties' voters were most likely to cast a ballot strategically. NDP-inclined voters were most likely (43.9 per cent) to say they'd vote for another party to stop the PCs from winning, followed by those favouring the Liberals (31.6 per cent), then respondents favouring the Greens (21.6 per cent). Most PC-inclined respondents (58.3 per cent) selected an option suggesting their vote was firmly planted, while 31.8 per cent selected an option presented to them indicating they favoured Ford's party because they didn't like the others.

Poll respondents were also asked about the PCs' attack ads on Crombie, who was elected leader of the Ontario Liberal Party last December. The ads, which the PC Party paid to have played during widely watched television broadcasts, like NHL playoff games, portray Crombie as an elitist who would raise taxes.

There were 36.2 per cent of the respondents to Pallas Data's June 4 poll who said they'd seen the attack ads. The ads appear to be working as the PC Party intended thus far, according to the responses by those who recalled seeing them, as 22.3 per cent said the ads worsened their opinion of Crombie, while 13.8 per cent said it improved their opinion of her. Of the remainder, 58.8 per cent said their opinion of the Liberal leader was unchanged by the ads, and five per cent said they weren't sure. 

Of the PC-inclined respondents who recalled the attack ads, 51.8 per cent said their opinion of Crombie worsened after seeing them.

"If this was a play (by the PCs) to head off Bonnie Crombie at the pass to make sure that these voters don't go to the Liberals, then mission accomplished," Angolano said.

Correction: This article was updated at 1:59 p.m. on Monday to fix an incidental misquote, replacing "path" with "pass" in the final sentence. 

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Charlie Pinkerton

About the Author: Charlie Pinkerton

Charlie has covered politics since 2018, covering Queen's Park since 2021. Instead of running for mayor of Toronto, he helped launch the Trillium in 2023.
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