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The 2022 Ontario Election in Review

Indifference Gives Ontario The Least Objectionable Choice

[Ottawa – June 27, 2022] We have just wrapped our post-election study in Ontario. The two noteworthy results of the election were: 1) Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives winning an increased majority from 2018; and 2) the lowest voter turnout in the history of Ontario, where 43.5% of the eligible voters came to the polls.

Our study looks at these issues and has identified some underlying causes for why they happened.

Low Voter Turnout: Ontarians Will Not Vote For Options They Do Not Like

The most important conclusion is that while this election produced low satisfaction and basement-level turnout, this did not seriously impair the election’s legitimacy. Only 29.2% of those surveyed said that they were satisfied with the election results, compared to 42.7% who said they were not satisfied. And yet, while there are far more Ontarians who said that they were not satisfied with the Ford PCs winning the election, it was overwhelmingly the result they expected, as just over 70% said that a Ford majority was the result they expected before the election.

Many pundits stopped their analysis at this point and blamed low voter turnout on the notion that the result was a done deal (and blaming us pollsters along with it).

However, there are more issues at play here. We asked Ontarians which statement they most closely agreed with; “low voter turnout calls into question the legitimacy of an election” or “If people really want to vote, they would.” 56.3% thought that if people would vote if they wanted to, while 35.4%. Also, the most frequent response for why they didn’t vote was that they didn’t like any of the choices (38.1%).

This means that despite low voter turnout, Ontarians accept the results as legitimate. Doug Ford’s majority was the expected outcome, and most feel that if voters should have turned out and voted if they genuinely wanted a different result.

Our survey tells us that voters may come out to vote if the choices are on the ballot or worthy of support. Otherwise, they are satisfied with staying home. They will not participate just because an election rolls around every four years.

The election may also reveal the malaise associated with the protracted pandemic and the sour zeitgeist that it has produced.

There are some lessons for future elections, particularly the next federal election. But caution needs to be applied as the main source of apathy and tepid turnout was broad skepticism about the choices that most voters saw as unusually underwhelming.

To be sure, Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh are not Andrea Horwath and Steven Del Duca. Both federal leaders are more experienced and engaging campaigners than their provincial counterparts. Moreover, they have significant campaign resources to support them come the next federal election. Voter turnout this low is likely not going to happen.

Finally, the notion that low voter turnout caused the PCs to win is a myth. As we can see below, the PCs have a significant lead among voters and non-voters alike among current voter intentions.

Most importantly, the NDP and Liberal estimates are virtually identical between voters and non-voters. If there were a latent progressive vote in Ontario that didn’t show up, we would see significant gaps here. But we do not. The biggest differences were found among supporters of the Greens, the New Blue Party, the Ontario Party, and other parties, and people who generally tell us that they will vote for smaller parties will not go out to the polls.

How Ford Did It

Doug Ford did not win because a latent opposition was not motivated to vote. He won because he built a coalition of Ontarians who have an ordered populist outlook, middle-class, and upper-class voters.

Let us be clear here: despite the appearance that Doug Ford used a much more moderate and centrist approach to securing power, his base is anything but. In an article published in Politico, we showed how Ford’s base is virtually identical to that of CPC leadership frontrunner Pierre Poilievre.

Our post-election study replicates those findings again: the new ‘ordered’ populist constituency has become Canada’s mainstay of conservatism.

Ford is much quieter and less aggressive in his rhetoric than Poilievre. But he is appealing to much of the same constituency, in addition to a very different rhetorical style which didn’t advocate buying cryptocurrency, sacking the governor of the Bank of Canada, and banning all future mandates.

Yet unlike Poilievre, Ford managed to do very well with middle and upper-class voters and the angry and alienated populist supporters. This significant achievement should have the attention of the fragmented centre-left parties at the federal level.

Another notable feature of this election was the role of the union vote. We find that support for union voters bolstered the NDP. If the goal for the unions was to stop Ford from winning, then opting only to bolster the NDP was a mistake. Either the NDP or the Liberals had to pull away from the other to cause problems for the PCs, but that did not happen here.

The private unions were less opposed to Ford, but the larger public unions registered a meagre 18% satisfaction with the election vs. 32% for non-union voters.

Ford did much better with men, white voters, and those who have not received their boosters or who have not vaccinated at all. The open-ordered index sharply divided the voter spectrum with Ford getting 76% of ‘ordered’ voters and only 27% of ‘open.’ Notably, there are far more open than ordered voters, but this is clearly no path to power in the fragmented political landscape.

The bridge to the more affluent classes may be a model for future success for the right and one to keep an eye for future elections.


This survey was conducted using EKOS’ unique, hybrid online/telephone research panel, Probit. Our panel offers exhaustive coverage of the Canadian population (i.e., Internet, phone, cell phone), random recruitment (in other words, participants are recruited randomly, they do not opt themselves into our panel), and equal probability sampling. All respondents to our panel are recruited by telephone using random digit dialling and are confirmed by live interviewers. Unlike opt-in online panels, Probit supports margin of error estimates.

While panellists are randomly recruited, this survey was conducted online only, meaning that it excludes the roughly one in six Ontario residents who either cannot or will not respond to surveys online. Results should therefore be considered representative of Ontario’s online population. The field dates for this survey are June 10-20, 2022. In total, a random sample of 1,357 Ontarian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey. 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 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 Ontario 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 The 2022 Ontario Election in Review

  • CW

    So refreshing to actually have informed answers to the low turnout. Was quite unimpressed with the quotes in articles capturing the assumptions of supposedly savvy political scientists. Read and heard the notion that people who did not show up feel that the first past the post system contributed to the low turnout. It is one thing to know a party you don’t want is going to win. It is another to know it’ll get 100% of the power on about 40% of the votes. Really disincentivizes voting in the minds of many. It lines up a bit with the “my vote doesn’t matter” response your polling found. Any thoughts on that as one of the factors behind the no show rate?

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