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Dead Heat Persists as We Move to Home Stretch


[Ottawa – June 10, 2014] – In what has been a pretty remarkable campaign we have nearly unprecedented murkiness in terms of the final outcome of a neck and neck race. For all intents and purposes, we now see a dead heat in terms of all eligible voters for the third night in a row. Our (slightly) adjusted likely voter model shows a shrinking and small advantage for Wynne’s Liberal party. At this stage, only a heroic guess would yield an estimate as to the victor and we simply don’t see any clear case for either Hudak or Wynne.

Given the general acrimony of the campaign, it may be hard to envisage the prospects for constructive deal making but if these trends persist for another three days the leaders may be forced to look at discussing some form of working partnerships. Given the scorched earth approach across the parties, this is hard to imagine but given the deadlock at this late stage the leaders might start more actively thinking about various détente options.

In the meantime, they will still pursue their respective strategies and hope for some late break in perhaps the most closely matched contest we have seen in recent history.

The demographics and regional patterns don’t really lead to any clarity as to what might happen from here on in. Hudak is now hugely loaded to male voters and he has pulled closer in the Greater Toronto Area. He also owns the less educated portion of the electorate.

Basically, we don’t have a clue whether Hudak or Wynne will pull this out, but we hope to see a little more clarity in the next day or so. Hold on to your hats.

A Note on Likely Voters:

While looking at our likely voter model, we felt that we might not be giving enough weight to the critical role of age in shaping turnout. Consequently, we have added a new item to the index which assigns a score of 2.5 to those ages 65 and over (who vote most often), 2.0 to those ages 45 to 64, and 1.0 to those ages 25 to 44.

We also felt that the emotional advantage given to Wynne could be slightly exaggerated by including “happy” as a strong emotion. We think it is clearly positive but less clearly strong. So we have simplified this to count angry and hopeful as the two positive emotions and leaving those who are merely discouraged or happy with one half point less on the Likely Voter Index.

Interestingly, and somewhat comforting to us, these refinements only have a modest impact on the likely voter projections. The Liberal lead is slightly narrowed (in this case, their advantage shrinks from 4.1 points to 1.8 points) and the NDP are improved somewhat. The overstated Green Party and “other” categories are slightly reduced in a more plausible direction.

All this to say that we feel quite comfortable with the model and we will stick with it for the final stages of the campaign. To quickly summarize how the likely voter score is calculated:

  • Past vote behaviour (maximum score of 2 points). The respondent receives one point if they voted in the 2011 federal election, one point if they voted in the 2011 Ontario election, and two points if they voted in both elections.
  • Emotional engagement (maximum score of 0.5 points). The respondent receives half a point for indicating that they are either angry or hopeful when thinking about Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government.
  • Intention (maximum score of 2 points). The respondent receives one point for rating likelihood to vote as six (out of seven) or two points for rating likelihood to vote as seven (out of seven). Alternatively, the respondent receives two points if they say they have already voted.
  • Knowing location of polling station (maximum score of 1 point). The respondent receives one point if they “clearly” know the location of their polling station. Alternatively, the respondent receives one point if they say they have already voted.
  • Age (maximum score of 2.5 points). The respondent receives 2.5 points if they are 65 or over, two points if they ages 45 to 64, and one point if they are ages 25 to 44.

Finally, we tally the scores and identify the ~50 per cent of the population that is most likely to show up and vote on Election Day. In this case, we take all those respondents who score 6.0 or greater (out of a maximum possible score of 8.0).

One final decision: we reserve judgement on whether to use the final three days or the final two days of the campaign in our final poll. If we are seeing some late shifting or conversions going on, we may use the final two days to best capture the final mood of the voter. By corollary, if all is stable, we will use the larger three-day roll.


This study was conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, which allows respondents to enter their preferences by punching the keypad on their phone, rather than telling them to an operator.

In an effort to reduce the coverage bias of landline only RDD, we created a dual landline/cell phone RDD sampling frame for this research. As a result, we are able to reach those with a landline and cell phone, as well as cell phone only households and landline only households. This methodology is not to be confused with the increasing proliferation of non-probability opt-in online panels which have recently been incorrectly reported in major national media with inappropriate margin of error estimates.

The field dates for this survey are June 7-9, 2014. In total, a random sample of 1,417 Ontario residents aged 18 and over responded to the survey (including a sub-sample of 1,191 decided voters). The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as sex, age, education and region). All the data have been statistically weighted by gender, age, education to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Ontario according to Census data.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (June 10, 2014)

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