On Monday, an ad went out from Kingston and the Islands Liberal incumbent Sophie Kiwala, saying that only she could stop Doug Ford in the upcoming election.
The graphic attached to the message showed a bar graph with Ford’s PC Party in the lead, Kiwala’s Liberal party in second, and the NDP and Green Party’s bars a distant third and fourth.
The implication of the ad was that having the progressive vote split between three parties may deliver a win to Ford’s PC party.
That implication didn’t sit well with some people, nor did omitting PC candidate Gary Bennett’s name for the party leader, including the candidate himself.
“When I first saw it, I was a little confused because it appears as though Sophie Kiwala is running against Doug Ford in Etobicoke,” says Bennett.
Commenting on Kiwala’s post of the ad on Facebook, Joel Thompson said, “Ford is not running in our riding,” and called the reference to Ford instead of Bennett a “scare tactic.”
Some were more peeved about the fact that one of the candidates was presenting data that hadn’t been sourced.
CKWS has learned that the numbers used for the Liberal ad came from a poll ordered by Kiwala’s campaign.
According to the Liberal-funded poll, Bennett and the PCs were leading the pack with 29 per cent, Kiwala following with 25 per cent, NDP’s Ian Arthur with just under 22 per cent and Green candidate Robert Kiley with just over 7 per cent.
Although the numbers don’t jibe with a recent Mainstreet Research Poll that has NDP in the lead, it’s a closer fit to unpublished data from that same poll provided to CKWS by Mainstreet Research. This unpublished data shows that when respondents were polled on candidate preference rather than party preference, Bennett and Kiwala are on top.
According to Quito Maggi, president and CEO of the polling firm, their data shows that when respondents were asked about their preferred candidate, 33 per cent of 624 people polled chose Bennett, and nearly 30 per cent chose Kiwala. Nevertheless, Maggi does not think candidate preference is necessarily the deciding factor in local ridings.
“A lot of people say they vote for their local candidate,” said Maggi, but he added that most people traditionally end up voting for the party.
Although Maggi said that opinions differ among experts on that fact, Mainstreet Research will usually posts results for choice of party only, because in the end they believe that’s where the decision lies.
WATCH: Riding profile: Kingston and the Islands
It’s a theory Kiwala was perhaps banking on in her ad — that alluding to Ford, who has been a somewhat polarizing leader, rather than Bennett, Kingston’s former mayor, might lead Kingston and the Island voters away from a PC vote.
She said that the graph was sent out because the numbers her campaign had acquired were of some concern.
“Ford’s policy would have an impact on Kingston and the Islands,” said Kiwala.
Arthur, who is the executive chef at Chez Piggy in Kingston and is running for the NDP for the first time, says he doesn’t see any credence in ads like Sophie’s.
“It’s too bad that Sophie feels the need to lie to people of Kingston, because we’re going to end up with Doug Ford as premier if she keeps doing that,” said Arthur.
As for only mentioning Ford’s name and omitting Bennett’s, Kiwala said she was trying to veer away from singling out any local candidates.
“I don’t want to be nasty or partisan towards a particular candidate,” Kiwala added.
But her concerns for a split vote among progressive voters may be valid, according to recent polling numbers.
In the same Mainstreet Research poll mentioned earlier, the NDP had a lead over the rival parties, with Greens polling at 11 per cent, a number never seen before for a Green Party candidate in Kingston and the Islands.
Kiley, Green Party candidate and deputy leader of the party, said he feels energized by the recent numbers.
“It’s a true four-way race,” said Kiley. “It gives voters the option to vote with their heart rather to vote with fear.”
This is the third election for Robert Kiley, but he has been gaining support since his first run in 2011. In the 2014 provincial election, Kiley received seven per cent of the vote, doubling his numbers from the 2011 provincial election. If the Mainstreet Research poll is correct, he may inch forward again for 2018.
But that’s not Kiley’s goal.
“We’re in this to win. There have never been so many undecided voters.”
The Kingston and the Islands portion of the Mainstreet Research poll was conducted from May 24-26, and reached 624 candidates, with a margin of error: +/- 3.91 per cent. The section of the poll that asked about candidate preference was not published in the Mainstreet’s Ontario Daily Media Tracker, but the numbers were provided to CKWS by president and CEO Quito Maggi.
The sample frame was derived from both a national telephone directory compiled by Mainstreet Research from various sources and random digit dialing. The part of the survey that dialed from the directory was conducted as a stratified dial of the following regions; Toronto (also known as the 416 region), the Greater Toronto Area (also known as the 905 region), south-central Ontario, southwestern Ontario, eastern Ontario, and northern Ontario. In the case of random digit dials, respondents were asked the additional question of what region of the province they resided in.