, 12.07.2017 11:51 AM

Who is going to win the Ontario election?

CBC News’  guy, Eric Grenier, has poked through the entrails.  His column is here.  His chart averaging the main provincial pollsters is below.

I like people in politics who say “I don’t know,” so I like Grenier. He’s saying he doesn’t know who is going to win in June.

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!


  1. Pedant says:

    Does it matter? All three parties will be going into the campaign with very left-wing platforms. It’ll be like choosing between different shades of Bob Rae.

  2. Mike Sloan says:

    I don’t know who will win.

  3. Matt says:

    With fewer and fewer voters being loyal to a particular party nowadays, are those old political “rules” like the Alternation Theorem still valid?

    I mean every pundit always said a federal party couldn’t win a majority without Quebec, until 2011 when the CPC did just that.

    Not to mention Ontario voted for the Trudeau Liberals in 2015 while the Wynne Liberals held Ontario.

    • Pedant says:

      Not to mention Ontario voted for the Trudeau Liberals in 2015 while the Wynne Liberals held Ontario.

      Well obviously, unless you schedule the federal and Ontario elections on the exact same day, there will be a period of overlap during which the same party is in power in Ottawa and Toronto.

      But the general trend going back to 1943 is alternating Blue/Red between Queens Park and Parliament. I suspect that will continue even if other previously held “rules” diminish.

  4. Gord says:

    A very wise man is fond of saying “Campaigns matter.” Given all the variables at play, I suspect this will be particularly true of the next Ontario election.

  5. David_M says:

    Please. Just give us some really good money managers to vote for.
    I’m not looking for slashing program spending or tax breaks. I just want the the collected revenue to stop being pissed away.

    • doconnor says:

      Keep in mind the waste that is found represents a small fraction of government spending. Businesses probably waste just as much (and it still comes out of our pockets), but they are far more secretive and don’t have an opposition and media dedicated to searching for waste and scandal.

      • David_M says:

        Business can misspend their dollars as they see fit.
        Money collected on behalf of our communities and society as a whole needs to be needs to be recognized for what it is, our effort invested in each other.
        Scandal is checking the balance after the cheque clears.

  6. Matt says:

    Toronto councillor (and one of Tory’s Deputy Mayors) Denzil Minnan Wong announced today he will be running for the Ontario PC’s in the upcoming election.


    Apparently councillor spendaholics Chin Lee and Shelley Carroll have announced they will be running for the Ontario Liberals

    • Matt says:

      For accuracy, Minnan Wong is “seeking the nomination” to run for the OPC.

      But really, one doesn’t make an announcement with this much fanfare unless they’ve already been given the spot.

  7. Sam says:

    Is Patrick Brown a negative for PCs. Nagging issue of what does he stand for even within own party? Still comes across as a 9yr Harper CPC backbencher.

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    People will vote for the person they like. And that ain’t Brown or Wynne. Like Harper, her best-before-date was one election ago.

  9. Miles Lunn says:

    I think the PC’s are favoured as the OLP has been in power for 15 years and there is strong desire for change as well as Wynne’s approval ratings are under 20 percent and the last leader anywhere in the country to face those kind of numbers was Greg Selinger who lost badly. But Wynne is still not out of it and the NDP still has a remote chance. Wynne is a very good campaigner and philosophically Liberals outnumber Conservatives so all things equal favour the Liberals although we are not at that right now. So in terms of odds I give the following: 60 percent chance of PC majority, 15 percent chance of PC minority, 20 percent chance of Liberal win (almost certainly a minority) and 5 percent chance of NDP win.

    • Beth says:

      You get sure get around Miles. However what you said two days ago on a Conservative blog is a very different message indeed.

      “Campaign research has a poll out which is not great news. Both it and forum seem to show the attack ads are taking its toll, while the campaign platform did little to help, although to be fair that often takes time. With how incompetent the Liberals have been and how moderate the PC’s I will be very disappointed if the Liberals get back in. That being said if you take the average of the polls and check demographics I think the PC’s are still favoured. Nonetheless I do fear the country is going through a strong leftward shift which will hurt us long term.”

      • Miles Lunn says:

        Not totally different I still think the PC’s have the advantage and on the blog expressing my concern with the tightening. Note I only gave them 75 percent chance of winning the most seats so in terms of what I think will happen I agree they are favoured, but as mentioned far from certain and with how bad the Liberals are don’t like that. But in both I say PC’s favoured but not certain which is what I believe.

        • Terence Quinn says:

          I don’t think that alternative issue is valid. There was a continuous Conservative government in Ontario from 1943 to 1985 and some Federal conservative governments in that period although it was mostly liberal. Diefenbaker was in power for several of those years and Mulroney won while there was still a conservative provincial government. The Ontario conservatives back then were Progressive and not the Harper brand which is what Brown will not be able to live down

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Got to agree but have to say that it’s mid-Ignatieff as definition attempts go. It’s odd that Wynne can’t define Brown but a union seemingly is having more success.

            Even more curious is potential voter indifference to Brown’s efforts to define Brown. The more people are uncertain about Brown, the more it means that they are at least subliminally resisting PC attempts to portray Brown as a moderate.

          • Pedant says:

            Very weak analysis.

            During the 1943-85 Tory rule in Ontario, Canada was governed by federal Liberals for all but 6 or 7 of those years. Mulroney’s landslide in 1984 set the stage for Peterson’s landslide in 1987. Then the Chretien landslide in 1993 set the stage for the Harris landslide in 1995. McGuinty in 2003 begat Harper in 2006. The alternation theory is solid.

            The Harper conservatives were plenty “progressive” by the standards of anyone aside from extreme cultural marxists. Patrick Brown has nothing to live down, by contrast Kathleen Wynne has to live down having been the Premier of The Annex while pretending to represent the whole of Ontario.

  10. Bruce Brooker says:


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