While public opinion polls show the Progressive Conservatives are favoured to form Ontario’s next government, new seat projections suggest the party’s lead isn’t immune to threats — primary from the NDP.
Analysis from Barry Kay at the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy sees the Tories claim 72 seats, the NDP forming the Official Opposition with 30 seats and the Liberals with 22 seats.
“The NDP has basically vaulted over the Liberals for second place,” said Kay, an associate professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University.
In April, Kay projected the Tories were at 80 seats, with the NDP and the Liberals tied at 22.
With the number of ridings increasing from 107 to 124 for the 2018 election, a party needs 63 MPPs to form a majority government at Queen’s Park.
Kay’s projections are based on weighted and aggregated data from polls conducted earlier this month by Ipsos, Pollara, Abacus, Ekos, Forum, Nanos and Mainstreet. Those polls had a combined total of more than 7,000 respondents.
According to Kay’s analysis of those polls, popular support for the PCs is at 40 per cent, the NDP is at 30 per cent and the Liberals have 25 per cent.
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Kay said that while polls were relatively stable from the March PC leadership convention until the end of April, a shift has taken place since the beginning of May.
“What we’re seeing is that the current trend is toward the NDP, not dramatically, not enough to upset the conservative majority, but there is a trend, and we might well see in the next round of polls that it’s even a little greater,” he said. “I’m not sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.”
He chalks up the PCs’ lost support to stiff competition for seats in Toronto and surrounding area. Most of the NDP gains were previously Liberal, and the Grits have also picked up a few seats from the Tories, he said.
Kay said based on his analysis, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has strong support in her riding, but that’s not the case for the other leaders.
Kay said his methodology, called the regional swing model, has been accurate for provincial elections to within three seats per party, going back to the mid-1980s.
He cautions, however, that the results aren’t predictions of the result of Ontario’s June 7 vote, but a yardstick of support at the time the polls were taken.
“What we’re talking about is not even today, what we’re talking about really, is the state of public opinion in the last week or so,” he said.