Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ontario Election - Tories Narrowly ahead

The next Ontario election is just over two months away. Heading into the campaign, John Tory's Progressive Conservatives are narrowly ahead, at least in projected seats.

An average of the three most recent polls gives us Liberal - 37, PC - 36, NDP - 18.3, and Green 8.3. (The most recent poll is here.) This yields an estimated seat total of:

PC - 53
L - 44
NDP - 10

A party needs 54 seats for a majority so this would leave the Progressive Conservatives just short of that. A slightly different estimate is available at democraticSPACE but the order of finish is the same.

This estimate does not take into account any impact from the multicultural grants scandal that triggered the resignation of Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Mike Colle.

Campaign dynamics could dramatically alter this picture but my impression is that the government is weaker than is generally presumed to be the case. The polls have suggested for a long time that there could be a close competitive race and now that seems to be a certainty.

The Liberals can still reasonably hope that as the likely second choice of the Greens and the NDP, they might still pull out a majority or minority win. And John Tory's support of aid to religious schools is likely to become a prime target of the Liberals. Public opinion in Ontario appears to favour overwhelmingly a single public school system. If this became THE issue of the campaign it could clearly draw votes away from the NDP if the Liberals can persuade NDP supporters to swallow their doubts about the Liberals to vote strategically in order to block this from taking place. Up to this point the moderate image of John Tory has been defusing the strategic voting that so hurt the NDP in 1999 and 2003.

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