ONW EXCLUSIVE - NEW POLL: THREE PARTIES IN VIRTUAL DEAD HEAT IN CRUCIAL GTA
Environics - Across Ont: PC 37%, NDP 28%, Libs 25%, Greens 10%
By Susanna Kelley
A tight three-way race is shaping up amongst Ontario Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats in the all-important Greater Toronto Area (GTA), according to a new Environics poll obtained exclusively by OntarioNewsWatch.com.
The PC's continue to lead across Ontario for the second month, with 37 per cent of those polled saying they would vote for the party if a provincial election were held today. The New Democrats would garner 28 per cent of those polled, with the Liberals remaining in third place at 25 per cent. The Green Party has increased its support to 10 per cent.
But across the riding rich GTA, which holds the key to winning majority government, things are not as clear-cut, with the three parties are in a virtual dead heat. Dalton McGuinty's Liberals have the support of 32 per cent of those polled, just a hair's breath ahead of Tim Hudak's PC's, who stand at 31 per cent, closely followed by Andrea Horwath's NDP at 27 per cent. Support for the Greens remains consistent with the province overall at 10 per cent.
"What strikes me really is the drop in Liberal support across the province and in the GTA, as well as the Tories' strength," said Darren Karasiuk, VP of Public Affairs for Environics Research Group.
"Most interesting is what's happened since the (October 2011) election," he said.
The Liberals won 38 per cent of the popular vote in the last election, with the PC's taking 35 per cent.
"The Liberals have continued their slide as (they endured) the ORNGE controversy, budget negotiations and tensions with the Ontario Medical Association over doctors' compensation," he said.
In addition to a 12 per cent drop in the GTA from 44 per cent the last election to 32 per cent in this recent survey, the party has = plunged the same amount from 33 per cent to 21 per cent in the rest of Ontario.
While the PC's have maintained the same level of support in the GTA - 31 per cent - the party has climbed two points in the rest of Ontario, from 39 per cent to 41 per cent.
But the party with the biggest increase where it really counts is the NDP.
"Most interesting is that the NDP continues to climb in the GTA," Mr. Karasiuk said, noting the party has jumped six points from 21 to 27 points in the crucial region since the last contest. In the rest of Ontario it has also increased it support by five points from 24 to 29 per cent.
Mr. Karasiuk suggested the NDP has benefitted from being "very much in the forefront of things in April." At that time it was negotiating a tax increase on wealthy Ontarians as the price of its support for the Liberal budget. The party also likely benefitted from publicity generated by the NDP's federal leadership race, he said.
Vote parking by dissatisfied Liberals and New Democrats may well account for the six per cent jump in the provincial support for the Green Party, he said.
The telephone survey of 500 adult Ontarians 18 years of age and over was conducted May 23-25. The margin of error for a sample of this size is 4.4 percentage points at the 95 per cent confidence level.
You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley