Random sample poll finds debate boosts PCs, Liberals equally

| Filed under: Ontario

Greens suffer from lack of TV exposure

TORONTO JUNE 4th, 2014 - In a random sampling of public opinion among Ontario voters who had watched or listened to the leaders' debate on the evening of June 3, the PCs and the Liberals see their vote share increase slightly from before to after the debate, while the NDP see no advantage and the Green Party falls back slightly.

Prior to the debate, voters who watched or listened (50% of total) preferred the Liberals with a six point margin to the PCs (37% to 31%). After the debate, a similar margin (5 points) is seen, but both parties have improved their share of the vote (to 40% and 35%, respectively). In the meantime, the NDP sees their vote share stall   (25% pre-debate to 22% post-debate), while the Green Party proportionally suffers the most, presumably because of their absence from the debate (6% pre-debate to 2% post-debate).

Hudak wins debate, Wynne in 2nd; significant gender gap

One third of those randomly selected voters who saw or heard the debate agree Tim Hudak won (33%), compared to just less than 3-in-10 who think Kathleen Wynne won (28%). Just one fifth award the laurels to Andrea Horwath (20%), and one seventh think no one won (14%). Females are more likely to believe Wynne won (33%) and less likely to think this of Hudak (22%). Twice as many males opt for Hudak (44%) as select Wynne as winner (21%). As these findings are based on a randomly selected sample, they are projectable to the population of debate viewers.

Hudak wins on making points, changing minds; Horwath most likable

More than a third of voters who tuned in to the debate think Tim Hudak won for making the best points (35%), compared to about a quarter for Wynne (28%) or Horwath (26%). Just less than 3-in-10 think Tim Hudak changed their mind during the debate (28%), compared to fewer who say this of Horwath (21%) or, especially, Wynne (10%). One third saw Andrea Horwath as being the most likable (33%), compared to just less than 3-in-10 for Hudak (28%) or Wynne (29%).

3-in-10 say debate made them more likely to vote PC, Liberal

Equal proportions of voters say the debate made them more likely to vote Liberal or PC (30%) and it is the supporters of the two parties who say this, so it is an example of confirmation bias, where the debate just validated an already held opinion. Fewer than one fifth said the debate made them more likely to vote NDP (17%), and a fifth say their minds were not changed (20%).

Approval for leaders substantial

More than 4-in-10 approve of Andrea Horwath, and she outpolls her party (43%). Her net favourability score (approve minus disapprove) is a relatively neutral -3. Kathleen Wynne has the approval of 4-in-10 (40%) and her net is a negative -12. Tim Hudak has the approval of just one third (32%), and his net is a very negative -30. In this case, both Wynne and Hudak poll at about the same level as their parties.

Wynne seen as best Premier

Four-in-ten randomly selected voters who watched the debates think Kathleen Wynne makes the best Premier (39%), well ahead of Tim Hudak (32%), or, indeed, Andrea Horwath (19%). Relatively few think none would do the job well (7%). In this case, Hudak and Wynne poll at the same level as their parties, but Andrea Horwath, while well-liked, is clearly not seen to be executive material.

One half or more do not believe key promises

Just one quarter believe Tim Hudak's promise to create a million jobs over ten years is credible (27%), and more than two thirds say it is not credible (69%). In turn, 4-in-10 believe Andrea Horwath's promise to reduce hydro rates and insurance fees is credible (41%), while one half do not (50%). The Liberals' signature promise of an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan is granted credibility by just more than 4-in-10 (43%), and one half do not think it credible (49%).

Lowering corporate tax rates, leaving them alone preferred to raising them

One third of those randomly selected voters who tuned in to the leaders' debate agree with the PCs that corporate tax rates should be lowered (33%) or, implicitly, agree with the Liberals that they shouldn't be changed (32%). Just more than a quarter agree with the NDP that corporate taxes should be increased (26%), and one tenth think none of these choices is appropriate (8%).


Unlike 'flash' or 'snap' polls of respondents recruited and paid to watch the debate, our sample was randomly drawn from the general population, and the proportion who watched or listened (50%) is representative of the province. While these randomly selected voters who tuned in agree Tim Hudak won by a slight margin, it is Kathleen Wynne who retains the largest share of the vote, both before and after the debate. Andrea Horwath, while well-liked and admired, is not seen to be Premier timbre, and polls behind her party in leadership ability.

While viewers may feel they have an opportunity to refine their choice of candidates, this poll shows that minds are not easily changed by TV events like debates, and, if anything, anyone who takes part benefits from the exposure," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.