CBC News’ guy, Eric Grenier, has poked through the entrails. His column is here. His chart averaging the main provincial pollsters is below.
I don’t know either.
I’ve worked with the guys behind Campaign Research and IRG. They’re really smart and effective. But I still can’t tell you who is right.
Here are the variables that I think will affect the outcome.
- Organization > money. Patrick Brown’s PCs have more money and are (presently) better-organized than Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats. Money and organization matter, but the former matters less than the latter.
- Ideas > campaigns. The Ontario Liberals won in 2003, 2007 and 2011 because they ran better campaigns, and (in 2007 and 2011) also because the PCs had bad ideas. The Ontario PCs ran a better campaign in 2014, but they lost again because they had a really bad idea. Ipso facto: a bad idea can torpedo a good campaign effort.
- Left > Right. The Ontario Liberals won in 2014 (like Justin Trudeau won in 2015) because they banked left and stole lots of NDP votes. Wynne’s doing that again. To win, Brown needs Horwath to get out of the witness protection program and start getting seen and heard again.
- Leader = brand. The Ontario Liberals have an unpopular leader, but a very strong brand. The Ontario PCs have an unknown leader, and a brand that is less strong. The Ontario NDP have an always-popular leader, but a brand that is very weak.
- Alternation > incumbency. The second that Stephen Harper won, the writing was on the wall for his provincial cousins: Ontarians don’t like one party running both levels of government. They just don’t. So, the minute Justin Trudeau won, big, in 2015, the writing was on the wall for his provincial cousins. For Ontario Grits, The Alternation Theorem is not helpful.
Anyway. I could go on (and God knows that I often do), but all of this is to say: I think Brown has the pole position, but the polls say the other two are still pretty competitive.
What do you think, O Smart Readers? Prognosticate away!