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[Ottawa – October 4, 2011] – In the final stages of the Ontario Election, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals have opened up a clear and, at this point, likely insurmountable lead over their rivals. At 39.1 points, they now have a full ten point advantage over the flagging Progressive Conservative Party who have fallen under 30 at 29.1 points. The NDP are stuck at 24.5, which seems to rule out their balance of power role in a possible minority situation and the Green Party is sitting at 6.0 points. In fact, barring some unforeseen late shifts, it would appear that Mr. McGuinty is now poised to comfortably secure a third successive majority.

Our survey involved 1,166 adults from across Ontario (including 1,065 decided and leaning voters) and was conducted from October 2-3. The margin of error associated with the total sample size is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

When we focus on the most likely voter population, this forecast isn’t altered. This is important as in the May 2nd election, turnout dynamics produced a major shift in the final outcome as the Conservative Party of Canada drew a huge advantage with the voters who actually turned out. This time, a number of factors are coalescing to make this scenario highly unlikely. In fact, our adjusted estimate based on modelling conducted after the Ontario results on May 2nd suggests the following results (which we will refine in the coming couple of final days of the campaign):

  • Ontario Liberal Party: 39.6 per cent
  • Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario: 31.9 per cent
  • New Democratic Party of Ontario: 22.1 per cent
  • Green Party of Ontario: 5.3 per cent
  • Other: 1.0 per cent

It is only natural that there may be some confusion or scepticism regarding this prediction. The polls have been rather inconsistent to this point in time and have actually averaged out to a slight lead for the Progressive Conservatives. So why this rather bold forecast?

First of all, our polling has not been inconsistent. We have seen the Liberal support as stable (across demographic and regional categories) and gradually widening in an orderly and clear fashion. Second of all, the key factors which produced a major advantage for the Conservative Party of Canada in Ontario on May 2nd are simply not in place here. In fact, it may be that many of the factors that served the federal Conservatives so well in that election are actually working in favour of Dalton McGuinty this time.

Some of these key factors include Liberal strength with seniors and boomers who are most likely to vote (they were far behind in these crucial segments on May 2nd), as well as with the university educated who are much more likely to vote than less educated and who have a hopeful positive orientation to the Ontario Government. Furthermore, as in the case of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his supporters, the Liberal Party of Ontario has overwhelming confidence in the current government and its direction. Just as in May, there is no burning appetite for the adventure of a change at this moment.

The Ontario Liberals supporters are also positively emotionally engaged around themes of optimism and happiness; the Progressive Conservatives are engaged around anger themes but there aren’t enough persuaded by this message and the NDP are more discouraged and have a younger, lower socioeconomic status constituency which means they may well vote less than other supporters.

Finally, the Ontario Liberal Party has a huge advantage in Toronto which is driven by a desire to hedge bets and avoid having strong Conservative governments in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, and Queen’s Park. This is a more modest factor in the rest of Ontario as well and it is important to note that this aversion is not rooted in buyer remorse for the last federal election as the Conservative Party of Canada still leads handily over other parties in current federal vote intentions.

All in all, it looks very favourable for the Ontario Liberal Party and Dalton McGuinty is on the verge of what appears to be a third successive majority. This prospect would have been unthinkable six months ago and Election Day is still capable of delivering surprises but the smart money would pick a majority. We will monitor the final stages very carefully and make a final call on Wednesday.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (October 4, 2011)

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