Forum Research has released its February poll, and its first post-Wynne win poll, giving us Ontario Liberals great news that we've gotten our first lead versus the NDP since November 2012! Yay! We're not totally dead! Even though the numbers we see give the Progressive Conservatives a huge leg up... but yeah! We're ahead of the NDP!
Forum Research (Ontario Provincial - February 20, 2013)
Prog. Conservative: 36% (+4%) - 55 seats (+21 seats)
New Democratic: 28% (-7%) - 27 seats (-17 seats)
Ontario Liberal Party: 29% (+2%) - 25 seats (-4 seats)
Green Party: 5% (=)
Though in terms of seats, we're still in third place. Nevertheless, the New Democrats have seen a huge drop in support from Forum's January release, a full 7-point drop and over a dozen seats. The question is, why? Leader Andrea Horwath is still miles ahead in her approval/disapproval rating, and there has been no major political gaffe that I know of that has caused the NDP to falter. There is the possibility that this poll is one of those that don't make it into the 19 out of 20 category, but the numbers are not too far off from what other pollsters have shown, except for a higher number for the Conservatives, and lower number for the Greens.
While correlation does not equal causation, it does strike me that a good possibility for the NDP drop is Wynne's ascension to the Premiership. It remains to be seen if these numbers and this trend continues to hold up, but out of the the last four polls since the convention - Innovative, Abacus, Ekos, and now Forum - the Liberals have been up in all. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes, because I've got a good feeling.
Anyways, the regionals are somewhat interesting. Starting with the GTA, the Liberals lead in Toronto (43% to the NDP's 27% and the PC's 26%), while the PCs lead in the 905 Region (oddly enough, 43% to the Liberal's 26% and the NDP's 25%). This split generally falls into line with my expectations if we went to an election today, whereby Toronto could stay a healthy Liberal red, but the suburbs will start falling to the PCs. The lower NDP numbers in the suburbs also fall into line with my expectations, given that I don't see them having much strength - then again, we could be surprised, as a lot of polls continue to show a rather strong NDP presence in the suburbs. Even this poll, sitting at 25%, is a strong showing for them.
Most of the NDP strength in this poll comes from Southwestern Ontario, where they lead with 35% to the PC's 34%, and the Liberal's 22%. For our two by-elections, the NDP would win both London West (37%) and Windsor-Tecumseh (48%) based on the regional swing in this poll. Once again, this falls into my general expectations for a vote. The NDP have a strong presence in Southwestern Ontario, and it seems to be sticking with them.
In Eastern Ontario, the PCs lead with 38% to the Liberal's 30%, while the PCs also lead in Northern Ontario, 38% to the Liberal's 27% and the NDP's 26%. While the Tories do have actual strength in the North that people would be surprised to know of, I would put this down to a small sample size.
In terms of other information, Wynne comes out better than McGuinty ever managed recently in terms of approval/disapproval, with 36% approving of her new job as Premier, and 30% disapproving. Given that she hasn't really done much, however, I wouldn't necessarily put too much stock into this.
Forum also asked an interesting question as to whether respondents would approve of a Coalition Government, even if the Progressive Conservatives won a plurality of seats. 44% approved, while 42% disapproved.
Forum asked other questions in three different polls, including about the gas plants issue, about Catholic school funding, and about the teacher's deal. Lots of good information inside of those polls if you're interested, so give them a read.
Here's a map to wrap this up: