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May 8, 2018 6:00 am EST
Updated: May 8, 2018 10:48 am EST

Doug Ford’s Ontario PC Party enjoys commanding lead over NDP, Liberals: Ipsos poll

Angie Seth speaks to CEO at Ipsos Public Affairs, Darrell Bricker who says the primary motivation for voters in this election is 'changing the incumbent”.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is the early favourite in the Ontario provincial election which is set for June 7, according to an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News.

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If the election were held tomorrow, Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford would receive 40 per cent of the decided popular vote, with Andrea Horwath‘s NDP receiving 29 per cent and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals 26 per cent (down one point from early April), the poll found.

READ MORE: Ford a bystander in progressive-oriented Ontario debate, Wynne and Horwath both strong

Much of Ford’s lead is down to his popularity in the seat-rich 905 suburbs surrounding Toronto, where the PCs (44 per cent) hold a considerable lead over the NDP (29 per cent) and the Liberals (24 per cent), with three per cent backing other candidates, according to the poll of 1,197 eligible Ontario voters interviewed between May 4 and May 7.

“The things he’s been talking about, particularly related to spending and taxes, and just even being able to talk to people in the 905 and his ability to connect with them is starting to come through,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Affairs.

“For some reason, neither the NDP nor the Liberal Party seems to have a similar type of connection, so [905 voters] seem to be very strongly interested in change, and the change they’re looking at is Doug Ford.”

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The PCs also hold a solid lead over the Liberals and the NDP in southwestern and northern Ontario, while in the City of Toronto, the Tories (35 per cent) and Liberals (33 per cent) are neck and neck, with the NDP (26 per cent) not far behind.

WATCH: Ontario party leaders spar in first major debate before election

In addition to leading in most regions, the Tories also have a solid lead in many of the key demographics — men (48 per cent to the Liberals and NDP at 25 per cent each), gen-Xers (44 per cent to the NDP’s 27 per cent and Liberals’ 24 per cent), boomers (44 per cent to the NDP’s 28 per cent and Liberals’ 25 per cent) as well as every single income group.

“It just shows you how desperately people want to get the Liberal Party out.”

Among millennials, there looks to be a three-way race between the NDP (34 per cent), PCs (30 per cent) and Liberals (29 per cent).

READ MORE: Doug Ford targeted by Kathleen Wynne, Andrea Horwath in first major debate before election

Province-wide, the Progressive Conservatives appear to have the most committed voters, with 58 per cent of PC voters saying they’re fully certain about their vote choice, compared to only 34 per cent of Liberal voters and 27 per cent of NDP voters.

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Progressive voters are yet to rally behind a single alternative in Wynne or Horwath, said Bricker, something that’s to Ford’s advantage.

“In spite of what the premier said in the debate tonight, the public perceives [the Liberals and NDP] as pretty close. So on everything, particularly on the compassion side, support for the environment, support for multicultural populations, the progressive agenda, they seem to be pretty evenly divided on their ability to deliver it,” Bricker said.

“If they’re so similar on those things, then really what it comes down to is which one of the two is the best option for stopping Doug Ford.”

WATCH: Doug Ford, Kathleen Wynne spar over tax cuts

The poll also found respondents evenly split between wanting a majority or minority government.

Among all possible minority government scenarios, the most popular was one in which the Conservatives govern in a minority government supported by the NDP, with 56 per cent of respondents supporting that option.

“It just shows you how desperately people want to get the Liberal Party out,” said Bricker.

“They’d be prepared to consider that type of an option, which by the way is probably a pretty unrealistic option.”

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By comparison, only 34 per cent supported a Conservative minority government with support from the Liberals, and just 28 per cent would be OK with a Liberal minority government supported by the Conservatives.

READ MORE: 42 per cent of Ontarians say budget makes them less likely to vote Liberal, Ipsos poll finds

Ultimately, this looks to be a “change” election, with three-quarters of Ontarians calling for change at Queen’s Park — only 23 per cent of respondents said the Wynne Liberals have done a good enough job to merit re-election.

Bricker says Wynne needs to take a leaf out of her 2014 campaign book when it comes to engaging with progressive voters.

“She has to find a way of consolidating people who are progressive voters in order to stop Doug Ford. She did it the last time to stop Tim Hudak, the question is whether she’ll be able to work that similar magic again,” he said.

As for Ford, his strong position early in the campaign means he’s well-positioned to become the next premier of Ontario, as long as he takes care of two things.

“One, not do anything to cause the people who are currently voting for him to reconsider their choice. Two, hope that on the other side of the agenda, the people who really want to stop him don’t get consolidated behind a single party.”

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These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 4 and 7, 2018, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,197 Ontario eligible voters was interviewed online (789 Ontarian eligible voters aged 18+ from Ipsos’ online panel were interviewed online, supplemented by river-based sampling) and by telephone (408 Ontarian eligible voters aged 18+ via live-operator random-digit dialing, dual-frame cellphone and landline). Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all eligible Ontario voters been polled.

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

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