The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party remains in a strong position to win the provincial election in June despite the resignation of its leader Patrick Brown amid sexual misconduct allegations, according to a new poll.
The Forum Research survey, which was conducted on Jan. 25 after Brown had stepped down, found 42 per cent of respondents would support the Ontario PCs if an election were held today.
The Kathleen Wynne-led Liberals are behind with 27 per cent support, while the Ontario NDP trails with 23 per cent support. Among those surveyed, six per cent would support the Green Party and two per cent would opt for another party.
“That the numbers for the Progressive Conservatives haven’t changed much suggests that most supporters were behind the party, and not the leader,” Forum Research president Dr. Lorne Bozinoff said in a media release.
“There may be an element of cognitive dissonance in that because supporters see Brown doing the right thing, their support for the PCs is strengthened.”
PC party leadership candidates
Although 41 per cent of the 751 people polled were unsure who would be their first choice to lead the PC party, 12 per cent would put their support behind failed party leadership candidate Christine Elliot and 11 per cent for former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford.
Among just PC supporters, those numbers jump to 17 per cent support for Elliot and 13 per cent for Ford. Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney and a PC candidate for the Toronto riding of York-Simcoe, garnered 11 per cent support.
Brown’s sexual misconduct allegations
The poll found 82 per cent of respondents were aware of the sexual misconduct allegations against Brown, with 14 per cent saying they were not aware and four per cent who didn’t know.
Almost two-thirds (60 per cent) said they approve of Brown’s decision to resign as PC leader while 18 per cent disapprove of his decision, and almost a quarter (22 per cent) did not know.
Meanwhile, among just PC supporters, 55 per cent of those surveyed approve of Brown’s decision to step down while 24 per cent disapproved.
Shift in voting behaviour
The Forum survey also found people’s votes may not shift following Brown’s resignation. Among those polled, 36 per cent said the allegations won’t have any effect on their vote, but almost a quarter (22 per cent) said it will make them more likely to vote PC.
One-sixth (15 per cent) said they were more likely to vote Liberal, while just over 1 in 10 (12 per cent) were more likely to vote NDP, while about one-sixth (14 per cent) weren’t sure if the allegations will have any effect.
The Forum Research poll was conducted by an interactive voice response telephone survey with a margin of error of +/- 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.