Ontario Political Scene Fall 2000

Provincial Grits Hit 50% For First Time -- But Tory Government Best Overall (45%) and Harris Seen as Leader Who Would Make Best Premier (50%)

McGuinty is Only Leader with Positive Momentum While Hampton and Harris Are Sliding -- but 60% Say Harris Government is on the "Right Track"

Tories Seen as the Party Which Would do the Best Job on Most Issues -- Liberals Edge Out NDP in Traditional Issues

Toronto, ON - An Ipsos-Reid survey shows that the Ontario Liberal Party has reached 50 percent support for the first time since the Harris government's tenure in office. Half (50%) of Ontarians say that if an election were held today, they would vote for the Liberals compared with 36 percent who would vote for the PCs and 14 percent who would vote for the NDP. However, the Tories (45%) are seen as the party which would provide the best government overall and of the three provincial leaders, Mike Harris (50%) is the top choice as the one who would make the best premier.

Ontarians' impressions of the individual leaders shows that McGuinty (+1) is the only leader who has positive momentum while Hampton (-2) and Harris (-22) show negative momentum. Nonetheless, six in ten (60%) Ontarians say that the Harris government has the province on the "right track".

Ontarians say the Tories would do the best job on most issues such as reducing the deficit (65%), cutting taxes (58%) and promoting economic growth (55%). Meanwhile, Ontarians say the Liberals would do the best on traditional NDP issues such as Healthcare (40%) and education (41%).

These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between October 4th and October 12th, 2000. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 1,000 adult Ontarians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within 177 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Ontario population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Ontario population according to the 1996 Census data.

Provincial Grits Hit 50% For First Time -- But Tory Government Best Overall (45%) and Harris Seen as Leader Who Would Make Best Premier (50%)

If a provincial election were held tomorrow, 50 percent of decided voters in Ontario say they would vote for the Liberals, 36 percent would vote for the Progressive Conservatives and 14 percent would vote for the NDP. Support for the Liberals has increased 4 points since late August (46%) and has reached its highest point since June 1995. Meanwhile, PC support has dropped 3 points (from 39%) over the same period and support for the NDP has remained relatively constant (15% in late August).

  • Women are much more likely to vote for the Liberals (55%) as opposed to the PCs (26%) while men split their support evenly between the Liberals (45%) and the PCs (46%).
  • Support for the Liberals is higher among younger residents (60%) as opposed to middle aged (46%) or older (41%) residents. In contrast, older (44%) and middle (40%) aged residents are more likely than younger residents (26%) to support the PCs.
  • Low income residents (25%) are less likely than middle (35%) or high income residents (41%) to say they would vote for the PCs. While the Liberals enjoy the highest level of support, the Tories emerge as the party that Ontarians think will provide "the best overall government for Ontario" (45%). This compares with 37 percent who say the Liberals and 13 percent who say the NDP would provide the best overall government. However, the survey also suggests that Ontarians have mixed feelings towards the Harris government. More than a third (35%) say the Tories would provide "the worst overall government for Ontario".

Of the provincial party leaders, Ontarians (50%) say that Mike Harris would make the best premier. This is double the number who say that Dalton McGuinty (25%) would make the best premier and more than three times the number who say Howard Hampton (14%) would make the best premier.

McGuinty is Only Leader with Positive Momentum While Hampton and Harris Are Sliding -- but 60% Say Harris Government is on the "Right Track"

Dalton McGuinty is currently the only leader with a positive momentum score (the difference between the percentage who say their opinion has "improved" minus the percentage who say their opinion has "worsened"). The percentage of Ontarians who say their opinion of him has "improved" (18%) is one point higher than the percentage who say their opinion of him has "worsened" (17%) since the 1999 election. Howard Hampton has slight negative momentum (-2, 12% "improved", 14% "worsened") while Premier Mike Harris (-22, 18% "improved", 40% "worsened") has strong negative momentum.

Still, 60 percent of Ontarians say that the Harris government has Ontario on the "right track". This includes a quarter (24%) who say the province is on the "strongly right track" and more than a third (36%) who say the province is on the "somewhat right track". Less than four in ten (38%) Ontarians say that the province is on the "wrong track". However, a quarter (25%) say the government has the province on the "strongly wrong track" while 13 percent say "somewhat wrong track".

Tories Seen as the Party Which Would do the Best Job on Most Issues -- Liberals Edge Out NDP in Traditional Issues

On many issues, the Tories are seen as the party which will do the best job. In particular, they are seen to do the best job on "reducing Ontario's deficit" (65%), "cutting taxes" (58%) and "promoting economic growth and creating jobs" (55%). In contrast their worst performance is on "protecting the environment" (22%), "ensuring we have compassionate social programs" (23%) and "protecting the quality and accessibility of healthcare services" (28%). The Liberals, are seen to be the party which will do the best job on the two issues Ontarians say are the most important: healthcare (58%) and education (53%) - two issues traditionally associated with the NDP. Forty-one percent say the Liberals would do the best job on "ensuring quality education" and 40 percent say the Liberals would do the best job "protecting the quality and accessibility of healthcare services". The NDP receives the nod as the party which would do the best job "protecting the environment" (32%) and comes close (34%) but narrowly loses out to the Liberals (35%) as the party which would be the best at "ensuring we have compassionate social programs". However, the NDP is also the party which Ontarians say would provide the "worst overall government' (44%).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Wright
Senior Vice President
Public Affairs
Ipsos-Reid
(416) 324-2900

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