Welcome to Earnscliffe Strategies’ Election Insights. This is our weekly analysis of the 2022 Ontario election, summarizing the key issues, strategies motivating the parties and major developments from the campaign trail.
The home stretch
With advance voting already underway and one week until election day, the party leaders are zeroing in on the ridings they believe will help to secure an election victory.
To help woo any remaining undecided voters, the NDP, Liberal and Green Party campaigns are pulling out all the stops to grab as much attention as they can – while incumbent Doug Ford and his team are taking a decidedly different approach by staying out of the spotlight entirely to avoid, as Peter MacKay once put it, “missing an open net on a breakaway.”
As Earnscliffe’s most recent polling from the field reveals below, the campaigns have so far had little impact on the topline vote-intent numbers. Other polling released this week indicates that nearly half of voters in Ontario believe the PC Party will win the provincial election. While Steven Del Duca and the Liberals have worked hard to challenge Andrea Horwath and the NDP for second place and to reduce the PC majority to a minority government, the electoral tea leaves appear to be pointing in the direction of a second straight majority mandate for Doug Ford.
The battle for official opposition status remains less clear. While the Liberals sound confident in their chances to leapfrog into second place, the NDP may well still secure more seats in the legislature than the Liberals based on their ability to organize locally and vote efficiently. Andrea Horwath and the NDP have focused much of their narrative on being the party best situated to defeat the PCs. Despite current polling, the NDP have maintained this as a core message, but are rounding it out in the final days with new creative released earlier this week, focusing on the NDP’s roots as “the party of working people”. They are also promising to bring mental healthcare into OHIP, and universal pharmacare, to name a few. While the Ontario NDP leader isolated after a case of COVID-19 last week and continued to campaign virtually, federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh appeared at multiple campaign stops this week including in London and Toronto. Horwath returned to in person campaigning on Tuesday.
While still in a position to form the official opposition, after four elections without forming government, questions remain about the future of the Ontario NDP leader. These questions won’t be answered until after the ballots are counted on June 2nd.
For his part, Steven Del Duca appears to still be in a fight to secure his own seat in the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge. He and his campaign team also continue to generate headlines, but for all the wrong reasons.
A Global News investigation this week revealed that during his time as MPP and minister, his riding association expensed more than $50,000 at restaurants over a five-year period, including one well-known steakhouse chain. While not particularly unusual for riding associations to expense food for events, his opponents used the report to advance the narrative that Del Duca is out of touch with everyday Ontarians and a poor manager of party finances. The Liberal leader responded by saying the expenses were justified by his role as an active MPP.
The party this week also released an attack ad of a chicken mascot dancing outside PC Party candidate campaign offices accusing them of being afraid to engage with media or their own constituents during the campaign. The video was not particularly well received on social media. As always, elections are won and lost on election day and getting out the vote will be essential to any party, or candidate, hoping to secure their place in the next legislative session. But, barring a complete surprise turn-out on June 2nd, this one may already be in the bag.
On the campaign trail
As we enter the last leg of the Ontario provincial election, our weekly tracking suggests that the campaigns have had very little impact on voting choice. With 18% of the electorate saying they have already cast their ballot, The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PCs) leads with 36% of the decided and leaning vote (down 1 point from last week), followed by the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) at 28% (unchanged from last week), the Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP) at 24% (up 1 point) and the Green Party of Ontario at 6% (down 1 point).
Supporting the thesis that stronger support among middle aged and older voters may give the PCs a turnout advantage over the Liberals and NDP, we also noted this week that the Tories’ province-wide lead of 8 percent expands to 12 when considering voters who maintained that they have voted in “all” of the elections where they were eligible, whereas Liberal voters show just average historic turnout rates and the NDP vote is higher among those who vote less regularly.
- Thursday, May 19 to Saturday, May 28: Advance voting period
- Friday, May 27, 6:00 p.m. ET: Vote by mail application deadline
- Thursday, June 2: Election Day