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The Narrative of the 2018 Ontario Election: Gender Preferences

By Suhani Singh

The previous blog in this series looked at how the provincial election became a tight race between PCs and NDP. The Conservatives generally topped the polls with the NDP following closely behind during the campaign period creating a neck and neck race in the polls closer to the election. The Liberals saw a significant drop in their popularity during the campaign period, polling significantly below the other two parties by election day. This blog will compare the average province-wide observations made in the previous blog to male and female voters.  

Looking only at the male voting preferences, the Conservatives emerge as the winner, significantly beating out the NDP and Liberals in almost all the polls. The PCs consistently polled higher among males with only a slight drop during the campaigning period. Despite the slight drop, the Conservatives still remained at between 40 to 50% support among male voters which is much higher than the overall provincial average. The NDP saw a considerable increase in support during the pre-campaign period that placed the party between 15 to 25% support to about 35% by the end of the campaign. The Liberal Party suffered a great loss of support from close to election, dropping below 20%. 

Looking at the female voting preference in the graph below, a trend different from the males is visible. The Conservative Party started strong in the female demographic polling close to 40% during the pre-campaign period but then sees a drop polling close to 30% during the campaign. The NDP began to rise above the Conservatives around this time placing them consistently in the top spot up until the election.

NDP support rose from approximately 25% to close to 40% near the election. Compared to the provincial average (30%-40%), the NDP placed higher among females. The Liberal Party also saw a decline in support closer to election, dropping from around 30% to slightly above 20%. Liberals still polled slightly higher among females than in males and the provincial average, but not enough to be a front runner in the election.

There was a clear distinction between male and female voting preferences. It is interesting to note that Conservatives started as the top choice for both genders early in the year but had a noticeable drop closer to election among female voters when the NDP gained significant support. The NDP saw this significant increase in their support after the first debate on May 7th. It can be surmised by this change in preferences that campaigning matters and can impact voting intentions. Because of these obvious differences observed among the gender demographics, we wanted to see if similar trends can be seen among different age groups. The next blog will explore these differences in a similar way by graphing and looking at trends between generations.

The Narrative of the 2018 Ontario Election: Introduction

By Suhani Singh

The June 7, 2018 Ontario General Election saw the Progressive Conservative Party defeat the Liberal Party to take power. The election was historic in many ways including a greater voter turn out than previous years and the Liberal Party losing its official party status by a mere one seat. The opinion polls conducted before and during the campaign period allowed Ontario voters to get a sense of what was occuring during this time and predicted the election outcomes rather accurately.

This blog series will consist of four blogs analyzing how the polls compare to the actual election results and how each party performed amongst different demographics. Polling data from March 11 to June 6 was collected from polling firms reported in Wikipedia during the precampaign and campaign period to create scatter graphs for better visualization.

This first blog will examine the overall trends in polling and explain the methodology used. The subsequent three blogs will explore how the parties performed by age group, gender, and region in the polls, noting any trends or similarities to the election results.

The graph above gives a snapshot of public opinion and voting intentions for all of Ontario during pre-campaign and campaign period for the 2018 Ontario General Election campaign period. The Conservatives had relatively stable support during the pre-campaign period polling over 40% in some polls, falling only slightly during the campaign period between 30% – 40%. This may be an example of the Conservatives peaking too early, though it did not cost them a majority government. 

As the campaign period approached, support for NDP saw an increase from 20% – 30% to approximately 25% – 35%, almost reaching 40% throughout late May and early June. The turning point for the NDP and the election overall began when the leaders had their first debate on May 7, 2018 where voters saw that they had another option. From this point onwards, a rise in NDP support is clearly visible.

Support for Liberal Party took a more significant dip in the polls. Starting off with nearly 25% support in the precampaign period in March and April, the Liberals fell below 20% closer to the election, putting them significantly below the Conservatives and NDP. As a result of declining support numbers, the Liberals lost the election, ending their 15 years of power in Ontario.


A quick note on methodology, to compile the data for this graph and the other graphs in the blogs in this series, we collected polling data from March 11, 2018 (Doug Ford’s appointment as the leader of progressive Conservative Party) to June 6, 2019 (last day before the June 7thelection) that was reported in Wikipediaand CBC Poll Tracker. We looked at the polls which asked Ontarians about their voting intentions for the upcoming election and recorded data from the leaning and decided sample groups in each poll. The polling firms used included Forum Research, Abacus Data, Mainstreet Research, Ekos, Ipsos, Leger, Pollara and Campaign Research. We ommitted data from polling firms that asked the voter intentions question in a way that was not similar to other polling organization (mainly Nanos Research who asked for top two choices) and those that did not have detailed tables about decided and leaning voters. The support average for all of Ontario as analyzed in this blog includes a greater number of polls than other demographic groups as not all organizations broke down the polling data by demographics.

As previously mentioned this blog series will talk about different voting preferences among age groups, genders and regions.  In the first follow up blog, the different voting preferences among males and females will be explored to see how they changed overtime. 

Changing Voter Trends Across Canada: Conservatives Overtaking Liberals in Support Numbers in Almost all Regions

By Natalie Pikulski

The first blog in this series examined federal public opinion polls about voter support from November 7, 2015 to May 4, 2019. The next two blogs examined voter support by gender and by age groups. This fourth and final blog will look at regional differences and similarities in terms of voting trends and what it could mean for the upcoming election. 

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberal party saw high voter support during the 2015 election and throughout the post-election year polling significantly over 50%, even reaching above 70% support in some polls. This high starting point for the Liberals paired with lower support for the Conservatives in 2016 meant that the trend of party overlap and gap closure is only occurring in early 2019. Both parties are polling around 40% making the drop in Liberal party support in this region the highest in Canada. 

Ontario shows similar trends to the national average where Liberal support remained high (around 50%) for the first year after the election which eventually began to slip while the Conservatives saw a decreasing range from 15-35% in 2016 to 20-35% by early 2017. The two parties saw an eventual overlap starting in late 2017 at 35% – 45%. As of 2019, both parties declined in support, but the overlap is still strong at 30% – 40%, too close to claim a lead just yet. 

The trends seen nationally, in Atlantic Canada, and Ontario are also noticeable in British Columbia. An overlap between the Liberals and Conservatives began in late 2017 with both parties at 25% – 40% support. This continued for about a year until early 2019 when Liberal support dropped to 25% – 35% while Conservatives stayed within the same range with a few outlier polls, putting them in a slight lead as of May 2019. One thing to note about British Columbia is the considerable amount of support for the Green Party at 10% – 20% which is approaching support levels similar to the NDP which stand at 15% – 25%.  

In Alberta, Conservative support has typically been much higher than elsewhere in Canada. Other regions had Liberals polling significantly higher than Conservatives right after the 2015 election, it was quite the opposite in Alberta. Liberals polled as low as 20 – 40% in the post-election year while Conservatives were between 50% – 60%. However, the trend of falling Liberal and rising Conservative support can still be noticed in the province with Liberals slipping to 15% – 25% and the conservatives reaching 60% – 70% support in 2019. The gap between the two parties is unlike any other region as there was never an overlap and the trend indicates a gap expansion, not a closure. 

The Prairies region has a similar trend to Alberta where the support gap is opening, however, the difference between Alberta and the Prairies is the starting point of the two parties. After the election, Liberal and Conservative support largely overlapped for most of 2016 at around 30% – 50%. Alberta’s gap was much larger than the Prairies but the trend of significant Conservative growth and Liberal decline that opened the support gap is still visible.

Voter intention in Quebec has generally followed the same falling Liberal and rising Conservative support trends but unlike other regions (apart from Alberta) the gap in voter intentions has not fully closed or overlapped at any point. Other regions have been seeing Conservatives pulling slightly ahead or overlapping significantly with the Liberals. In Quebec, the Liberals have maintained a higher level of support (25% – 40%) over the Conservatives (20% – 30%) in 2019. 

Liberal support in terms of vote intention percentages is similar to the national average and other regions like Ontario, BC, and Atlantic Canada but what allows them to be ahead in the polls is the considerably lower level of support for the Conservatives. While the trend of falling Liberal and rising Conservative support is still seen, the Conservatives have not managed to reach the level of support needed to meet or pull ahead of the Liberals at this moment in time. 

The BQ polled similar to the Conservative party (10% – 20%) since the election until mid-2018 where the Conservatives saw a slight increase to 20% – 30% that carried them to early 2019. Conservatives continue to poll slightly above the BQ, even with the sudden 2019 BQ increase that puts them at 15-25% support. This larger split in votes and slow growth of the Conservatives could explain why Liberals are still polling higher but this reasoning should get taken caution as there are many potential explanations that are not mentioned here.

Over the last four blogs, common voter intention trends could be seen in almost all demographic groups across Canada. Similar trends seen include: falling Liberal support that was consistently high in the first post-election year, significantly dropped early 2017, and continued to decline; rising Conservative support since the last election seeing them beat out Liberals in support numbers in most demographic groups; stable NDP and BQ; and a slight rise in the Green Party in 2019. These trends found in the polls will be something to look for during the fall 2019 election to see where they lead.