March 15, 2018 7:00 am
Updated: March 15, 2018 5:27 pm

Ontario PC Party could get majority government as Tories have lead in seat-rich GTA: Ipsos

WATCH ABOVE: Alan Carter speaks with Doug Ford on Focus Ontario about his election as leader of the Ontario PC Party and the upcoming provincial election.

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Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party could form a majority government after the upcoming election based on polling data in the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area, the CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs says.

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In a poll conducted for Global News days after Doug Ford was elected leader of the Ontario PC Party by its members, it found not much has changed for the Tories as it relates to party support.

READ MORE: Ontario PCs poised for majority despite unpopularity of Doug Ford, poll finds

The poll released Thursday found the PC party maintained their lead with 39 per cent support (an increase of one per cent). The Ontario Liberal Party is second with 32 per cent support (an increase of three per cent). The Ontario New Democratic Party came in third at 25 per cent (a decrease of one per cent). The Green Party of Ontario had three per cent support (down four percentage points). Sixteen per cent of those surveyed said they are either undecided or do not plan to vote.

In the 905 region, the legislature seat-rich suburbs surrounding the City of Toronto, the survey found the PC party maintained a seven-point lead.

READ MORE: Here’s where Doug Ford stands on big issues

“I think it shows pretty clearly the desire for change is so strong that even somebody as controversial as Doug Ford doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to people voting for the (Progressive) Conservative Party,” Darrell Bricker said in an interview Wednesday evening.

“The biggest number by far is the Tory lead in the 905. I mean if they’re up by seven points in the 905, they’re going to be hard to beat … I think the safest way to put it would be they’ll be knocking on the door of a majority.”

The poll found 79 per cent of PC party voters agree they are happy that Ford is leading the party into the June election.

Meanwhile, Bricker said the polling numbers speak to how the Ontario PC Party brand resonates with many of those surveyed as well as those who are looking for change.

“Even though we know the drama and everything that’s been happening in the PC Party is something that normally people would be paying attention to and maybe making different decisions in terms of party choice and all the rest of it, they’re so desirous of getting a change in government that they’re willing to give the Tories are really big berth in terms of what they’ve been doing,” he said.

READ MORE: Doug Ford as PC leader won’t change election approach, Premier Kathleen Wynne says

“Unless something very dramatic changes between now and election day, it looks like the Tories are in a very good position.”

However when looking at the poll numbers across Ontario, only 46 per cent of residents surveyed agreed that they’re happy Ford is in the race to become premier. Also, 52 per cent of non-PC Party voters who considered voting for the party said they won’t now because of Ford’s election as leader.

“In short, [Ford’s] presence motivates his Tory base, while further alienating his detractors,” Ipsos said in a statement.

In an interview with Global News anchor Alan Carter on Focus Ontario Thursday, Ford was asked about those who were polled that perceived him as divisive.

“I saw that and I guess once people get to know me, they’ll take a different approach,” he said.

Anti-Ford supporters starting to gravitate toward Liberals

The poll found those who are against Ford are beginning to consolidate under the Liberals and opinions of Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government are improving. Twenty-six per cent of respondents said Wynne has done a good job and deserves re-election, which is up six percentage points since Feb. 20.

Thirty-six per cent of those polled said they approved of the provincial government’s performance under Wynne, an increase of five per cent.

READ MORE: Premier Wynne says contrast between her and Doug Ford is ‘stark’

But the Liberals still have an uphill battle ahead of them based on the majority of responses received. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of those polled said it’s time for another party to take over, which is down six percentage points, while almost two-thirds of respondents said they disapprove of the government’s performance, a decrease of five percentage points.

“It’s a combination of the premier and the party not doing anything for Ontarians right now,” Bricker said.

“After 15 years of being in government, this is pretty much structured as a change election.”

During Thursday’s interview with Ford, Carter also asked him if the election results could be closer than what the poll showed. Ford said he didn’t think so.

“I’ve talked to Kathleen Wynne and I told her I never underestimate her. I have a great deal of respect on her capabilities of campaigning as well as debating,” he said.

“I told her I look forward to debating her. It will be an interesting debate to say the least.”

While Andrea Horwath has highest favourability, NDP lags in support

When it comes to the personal popularity of the leaders, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath leads on multiple fronts.

When asked who would be the best premier of Ontario, 41 per cent of those surveyed said Horwath is their preferred choice. Ford came in second with 36 per cent support while Wynne came in third with 23 per cent.

Meanwhile, 14 per cent of those polled viewed Horwath unfavourably — noticeably behind Wynne, whom 60 per cent of respondents viewed unfavourably. In between, 41 per cent of those surveyed said the same of Ford.

READ MORE: NDP leader Andrea Horwath tries to break through chaotic Ontario political scene with tour

“The leader of the NDP seems to be quite popular herself, but doesn’t seem to have any coattails for the party. Over time, those things usually don’t remain separate. What happens is either the leadership follows the party or the party follows the leadership,” Bricker said.

“I expect over time either her numbers will either come down or the party’s numbers will come up … I wouldn’t count the NDP out by any stretch.”

The poll found 23 per cent of those surveyed believe the NDP have the best chance of defeating the Wynne government compared to 53 per cent of respondents who said the PC Party would do better.

This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey with Ipsos’ online panel, supplemented by river-based sampling, of 803 Ontario adults and conducted March 12 and 14, 2018. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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