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Ford Maintains Clear but Modest Lead

Outcome of next election unclear

[Ottawa – January 18, 2022] Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party holds a significant eight-point lead over the Ontario Liberals and the Ontario NDP, who find themselves in a dead heat for second place. If this lead continues to Election Day, Ontarians would see Ford restored to power, but a majority would be in doubt. At five points, the Green Party is not a factor at this time, but ‘other’ are capturing eight per cent of the vote. These individuals appear to be disaffected People’s Party voters looking for a home.

The Progressive Conservatives have surprising support with poor and working-class voters and do better with men and rural voters. The Ontario Liberals do very poorly with younger voters, particularly young men; however, they fare well in the urban core. The NDP do very well with under-35 voters.

Doug Ford’s lead is vulnerable to a number of factors. First, his approval rating is just 30 points. His government has received poor ratings for its handling of the pandemic and much hinges on what happens in the coming month and the issue of school openings and mandates for K-12 classes could become a ballot booth issue.

In terms of approval, the Liberal and NDP leaders find themselves in the same territory. Stephen Del Duca holds an approval rating of just 29 points. Andrea Horwath does slightly better (35 per cent), but her approval rating is well down from 2018. The fact that none of the leaders score above 35 per cent is a reflection of the dark public outlook on a pandemic that will not go away.

One potential threat to Ford is that his approval rating is not that high within Conservative voters. Furthermore, the unusually high number of respondents opting for ‘other’ are clearly further right voters. They are strongly against vaccine mandates and there are many anti-mandate voters within the Ontario Progressive Conservative constituency itself. This is one of the reasons that Ford has to carefully straddle growing support for mandates and not alienating the further right portion of his base. Horwath did not clearly support the mandates early and this may leave an opportunity for Del Duca, including an opportunity with school mandates (which enjoy strong support from the public). This would also find favour with teachers whose unions have come out in favour of in-school vaccine mandates. All of this will hinge on how things unfold in schools and hospitals in the coming month.


This survey was conducted using High Definition Interactive Voice Response (HD-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.

The field dates for this survey are January 7-17, 2022. In total, a random sample of 907 residents of Ontario aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 3.3 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 region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, and region to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

EKOS follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements.

Please click here for a copy of the data tables from this survey.

Please click here for a copy of the questionnaire that was used for this survey.

1 comment to Ford Maintains Clear but Modest Lead

  • Craig

    I think the reason why the Ford approval is lower than the PC voting intention is that, not only are about 8% already out of the blue camp and into the farther right parties (depending on what all develops), but another 5 to 10% are open to go that way if they can get momentum but holding their nose for now with the PC Party to avoid a Liberal or NDP government.

    I also assume most of those PC voters who disapprove of Ford are in rural Ontario, where support for lockdowns and mandates are lower. That may be their only saving grace is that all it might do is lower the margins, as a perfect split would be needed to move those seats to the Liberals or NDP. Southwestern Ontario would be the area that would especially be most likely to move off in that direction, since that was the best region for the PPC.

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