Grits and Tories in a dead heat in Toronto, poll suggests

Grits and Tories in a dead heat in Toronto, poll suggests

The Grits are back in the game.

That’s the upshot from a Forum Research survey released on Friday that finds Ontario’s governing Liberals have rebounded in their stronghold of Toronto, after months of lagging behind in public-opinion polls.

According to the poll, provided exclusively to QP Briefing, the Liberals are sitting neck-and-neck with the Progressive Conservatives in the 416.

Of the 1,035 decided and leaning voters Forum surveyed in Toronto, 34 per cent said they would cast their ballots for the Liberals if an election were held today, 34 per cent would support the PCs, and 25 per cent would vote New Democrat. Five per cent said they would choose the Green Party, and 2 per cent would pick another party.

Respondents backing the Liberals tended to be younger women, while older men preferred the PCs.

“Following months of weak numbers for the Liberals, they’ve bounced back slightly in fortress Toronto, likely their most important region,” said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, in a release.

The poll comes a day after the Liberals were defeated by the Tories in Thursday’s byelection in Sault Ste.  Marie to replace former cabinet minister David Orazietti – a seat the Grits had managed to hold on to since 2003.

It also comes as the Liberal government is feuding with Toronto Mayor John Tory, who, after being denied the right to toll the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, has been clamouring for more funding from the province. Tory even repeated his call for more help from Queen's Park in a Thursday visit to Parliament Hill.

The poll's findings follow a steady stream of surveys that showed the Liberals trailing the Tories. In April, for instance, a Forum poll suggested 38 per cent of Torontonians would support the PCs, 31 per cent would pick the Grits, and 22 per cent would opt for the NDP. A Mainstreet Research poll in February showed the Liberals hanging on to support in Toronto’s downtown core, but dwindling in neighbourhoods on the outskirts, such as Etobicoke, Scarborough and North York.

But, a year out from the general election slated for June 7, 2018, the trend may be shifting. In May, a Campaign Research survey showed 37 per cent of Ontarians would cast their ballots for the Liberals, with 34 per cent supporting the PCs and 22 per cent backing the NDP.

Bozinoff chalked up the reversal to a slew of sweeping policy announcements, including pharmacare for those under 25, a $15 minimum wage by 2019, basic-income pilot projects and lower hydro bills. The government can also boast of Ontario’s first balanced budget since the 2008 recession.

“With a variety of big-ticket, campaign-style announcements in the budget and its aftermath, it seems as though for now, the Liberals are making inroads with the electorate,” Bozinoff said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne seemed unfazed when confronted with her party’s recent history of polling poorly.

“I know that the opposition parties believe that by making a personal attack and raising the issue of my personal polling numbers, somehow that’s going to get under my skin and that’s a good political tactic. Here’s a news flash: I know what the polls say,” Wynne said in Thursday morning’s question period, the last before the house recessed for summer.

“I am absolutely focused on doing what’s in the best interests of the people of this province today and every day through, until the election."

The Premier was responding to charges from the opposition parties that her policies of late have more to do with saving the Liberals political fortunes than helping average Ontarians. After she finished her answer, the Liberal benches began chanting "four more years."

Forum conducted its survey over the phone on May 25, May 27 and May 28, and the results are considered accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Twitter: @sabrinananji

Sabrina Nanji

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