The Tories would snap up 70 of the 107 seats at Queen’s Park if an election were imminent, the Forum Research phone survey of 1,184 people shows. The NDP would become the official opposition with 26 seats and the Liberals would hold just 11.
To make the news worse for the Liberals, Wynne’s approval has fallen even lower: from 14 per cent in Forum’s last poll to just 13 per cent now. That’s her lowest figure yet, lower than former premier Dalton McGuinty before he resigned and even lower than the 15-per-cent low Bob Rae hit (in another polling firm’s data, as Forum wasn’t around then) at the height of his NDP government’s unpopularity. Wynne’s latest drop in popularity is within the poll’s margin of error: plus or minus three per cent 19 times out of 20.
A full 43 per cent of Ontarians would vote for the PCs, while 24 per cent would support both the Liberals and the NDP, the Nov. 21 poll shows.
“The longer this goes on with (the Liberals) being so far back it makes it harder and harder for them to recover,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff in an interview. “They need a serious serious reboot … they need to take fairly substantive measures.
“They’ve just been around a long time and I think people are getting a sense it’s time for a change,” he said, adding the party will have been in power for 15 years by the time the 2018 election rolls around.
Of Wynne, he said, “I don’t think she’s done a good job of connecting with people for a long time and this is partly a continuation of that.”
Patrick Brown could win this by default.
“She hasn’t’ really responded quickly enough to some of these more recent concerns,” like high hydro rates, he said.
That puts PC leader Patrick Brown in a great position, as Bozinoff says he basically needs to sit back and not make any mistakes. While 49 per cent still don’t know who he is, 28 per cent who do, like him, compared to 23 per cent, who don’t.
The NDP’s support has been flat since the last election, so any Liberal downfall would most likely benefit the Tories, Bozinoff said. However, he said they have to be careful of treading too far to the right or touching any socially conservative issues.
Anyone who’s to the right of the current party would vote for them anyway, Bozinoff said, and the same poll shows high approval for abortion (70 per cent) and same-sex marriage (71 per cent). People remain somewhat split on the sex-ed curriculum, as just over half — 52 per cent — support it.
The flip-flop over the sex-ed curriculum is the kind of thing that could sink the PCs in centrist Ontarian, Bozinoff said. He said they should focus on small “c” conservative issues like good governance and policies.
“Patrick Brown could win this by default,” Bozinoff said. “If he’s seen as a premier in waiting, this could just fall in his lap.
“But there’s this strong tendency in the Tories to shoot themselves in the foot.”