After bobbling the 2011 provincial election, is Tim Hudak really poised to move into the Premier’s second floor office at Queen’s Park?
A recent poll by Ipsos-Reid shows Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives in majority government territory (37 per cent support). Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals are second (32 per cent support) and the NDP bring up the rear (27 per cent support).
But before Hudak starts sending in renovators to measure the drapes on the second floor, it’s important to remember a few things.
Politicians are fond of saying the only poll that matters is on election day, and as clichéd and evasive as that answer is, it remains the truth.
Just months before the writ dropped in 2011, Hudak enjoyed a double digit lead in the polls over Premier Dalton McGuinty. High profile Liberal cabinet ministers like Sandra Pupatello had decided to take a pass on running again, sensing a possible electoral bloodbath.
The day after the votes were counted, McGuinty celebrated what he called a “major minority” falling short of control of the legislature by a single seat.
Recent provincial elections in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta should give any prognosticator or pollster pause. Remember the PQ majority, the Wildrose government and political humiliation of Christy Clark? All seemed self evident until increasing volatile voters reminded everyone that campaigns matter.
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With polling data trending in his direction, Hudak has attempted to temper his image by jettisoning controversial ideas like the so called right-to-work legislation.
But he and his party remain vulnerable to accusations of being scary, hidden agenda, rightists. Hudak will try to counter these attacks by running on a disciplined, nimble, and focused campaign.
So far the brain trust in PC party headquarters hasn’t proven it’s learned the lessons of 2011.
Until the lawn signs go up, the leaders put on pancake makeup for the TV debate and the inevitable gaffe or surprise hits the news, there is simply no way to predict the outcome of what is now seen as an inevitable Spring election.