The Ford government in Ontario has stopped the slide in its COVID-19 approval and now maintains a lead over the Liberals in voter preference.
On December 17th, INNOVATIVE released the results of an online poll tracking the Ontario political landscape.
Tracking on what Ontarians are hearing about the government shows that while the public debate has become more negative than it was earlier in the pandemic, it is still much better for the government than before the pandemic. In February, 57% of Ontarians who heard about the government were left feeling less favourably towards it. Now, only 34% of Ontarians are left feeling less favourable while 31% are left feeling more favourable.
One reflection of that more positive environment are PC gains among the Business Liberal value segment, a key battleground in the upcoming election. They now lead over the Liberals in this segment 42% to 34%.
While issues such as job creation, health reform and climate change will likely get more attention as vaccinations progress, our segmentation work shows that affordability will also likely be key. PCs and Liberals are in a tight race for the votes of people trying to get ahead but having a hard time getting by and among the Thrifty Moderates segment.
The NDP can also take some encouragement. They have edged ahead of the Liberals among Core Left voters and now have a 10-point lead among economically alienated voters.
Finally, the Liberals can take solace in the fact they retain a lead in party identification which means the first group of target voters they need to rally already feel connected to the party, they just are not voting for it yet.