New tracking from an INNOVATIVE online poll of 800 Ontarians (the total unweighted sample was 899) shows that the announcement of a new round of restrictions in Ontario on Friday has further hurt Doug Ford and the PC Party, who were already down in the first two weeks of April compared to March. The INNOVATIVE poll was in field when the government made their Friday afternoon COVID-19 announcement. Almost half the interviews (371) were conducted on Thursday and early Friday while 429 were conducted from Friday evening to Tuesday morning.
Attention to the government was high before new restrictions were announced, with 78% of Ontarians saying they had heard something about Doug Ford recently. That is now up to 83% after the announcement. While the reaction was already negative before the announcement, now 51% say what they’ve heard about Ford has left them feeling less favourable towards him.
Overall satisfaction with the Ontario provincial government across the sample is now at 43% but looking at results since Saturday shows that only 40% of Ontarians are now satisfied with the provincial government. Similarly, since the announcement only 30% of Ontarians say they approve of the provincial government’s handling of the pandemic, down 6-points compared to before the announcement.
As public health measures shift, those changes can be seen as prudent responses to a changing virus or a government adrift. The government starting April with more feeling they were adrift than doing their best to respond to changing events. They had improved earlier last weeks but moved in a negative direction since Friday’s announcement. We now see a majority (52%) feeling the changes show the government doesn’t really have a plan with only 39% saying they are doing their best to respond to the changing nature of the virus.
The decline in Ford’s personal brand we saw in early April has been sustained, with 48% of Ontarians saying they have an unfavourable impression of him while only 33% say they have a favourable impression. Looking only at responses after the latest restrictions were announced, for the first time since March last year a majority (51%) have a negative impression of Doug Ford and only 29% have a favourable impression of him. While in March 37% felt Ford was the best choice for Premier, that had dropped to 32% before the announcement and now sits at 24%, only 3-points ahead of Andrea Horwath (21%).
The Ontario Liberals now lead the PCs on vote; 30% of Ontarians say they would vote for the OLP while only 26% say they would vote for the PCs and the NDP trail closely at 23%. Looking at results only after the latest announcements by the Ford government, the Liberal lead expands to 7-points with the Liberals at 32% and the PCs trailing at 25%.