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Race Breaking Liberal


[Ottawa – June 11, 2014] – In a very important last-minute development, we see the race re-establishing its stable pattern from the pre-debate period. The Liberals now have a highly statistically significant lead of six points (36.6 per cent to 30.2 per cent) which places them not only in range of victory, but in majority territory. The evidence seems to show that the debate effect has followed a common pattern of dissipating and the electorate have reverted to the positions they held in the first three weeks of the campaign.

The picture only gets rosier for the Liberals when we turn to likely voters. The six-point lead expands to eight points when we adjust for likely voters.

Our guess at this point is that the ballot box issue of minimal government versus active government was the deciding factor in this late shift. It was what had sustained a solid (albeit modest) lead for Wynne up until the debate. The debate shifted voter focus from this high ground to the low ground of ethics and regime fatigue. It now appears that the electorate have chosen the earlier issue as the more important one and that this will propel Wynne to a clear and surprising victory.

Looking at the demographics, we see the Liberals have re-established their lead with women and those ages 45-64, while the Progressive Conservatives still lead with seniors and – although statistically insignificantly – with men. If there is good news to be found for the PCs in this poll, it is that much of their loss has been concentrated among those under 45, a group with a particularly low propensity to vote anyway. The Liberals have also pulled into a tie with the PCs in Eastern Ontario. The exact cause of this last shift is unclear (and it may very well be a one-time blip), but it could be related to recent confusion over whether a PC-led government would support Ottawa’s LRT expansion.

One final comment on the polls: We have never seen the erratic and confusing patterns that might be drawn across other polls. In our polling, the trends and demographics have been stable and well behaved. Apart from a single point where Hudak moved ahead Wynne has maintained a stable lead and she now has clearly recaptured this. So we will restate our earlier conclusion that the race is headed to a Wynne victory and most likely to a majority. We could, of course, be wrong. But we don’t think so and all will be clear in two days.

A Note on Likely Voters:

While looking at our likely voter model, we felt that we might not be giving enough weight to the role of education and age in shaping turnout, as our past research has shown that university and college graduates are considerably more likely to vote that those limited to a high school education or less. Consequently, we have added a new item to the index which assigns a score of 2.0 to those who have completed either a college or a university level education.

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 their likelihood to vote as six (out of seven) or two points for rating their 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.
  • Education (maximum score of 2 points). The respondent receives 2.0 points if they have completed either a college or university education.

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 7.5 or greater (out of a maximum possible score of 10.0).


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 9-10, 2014. In total, a random sample of 1,332 Ontario residents aged 18 and over responded to the survey (including a sub-sample of 1,092 decided voters). The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-2.7 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, and 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 11, 2014)

1 comment to Race Breaking Liberal

  • Jon Freedman

    As far as I can tell, your polls have been quite consistent in showing the liberals ahead. There was one major deviation two days after the debate, and maybe a second smaller one two days after that. You interpreted the first blip as perhaps due to a delayed effect of the debate. But as you have said, debates rarely make a big difference. Moreover, a deviation that large would usually occur only after a really spectacular negative event for the liberals and there was none.
    Remember that each daily polls less reliable than the larger ones done earlier, I would suggest that a better explanation is that the big leap for the PC was a statistical blip, not a real change. If you did a trend analysis, I would guess that it would not show a significant deviation from linear. Just a thought but as you have said, it is a mistake to overinterpret individual results.Time series is often helpful in giving perspective on deviations.
    Great job on the polling and your comments on the other polls.