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The Narrative of the 2018 Ontario Election: Generation Gap

By Suhani Singh

Our first blog in this series looked at the overall polling trends during the last Ontario election and our last blog examined how party support differs among women and men during the Ontario election campaign. This blog will examine different age groups to see how they changed during the Ontario precampaign and campaign period for the 2018 election.

The age groups looked at are divided into five generations (Gen ZY, Gen YX, Gen X, Young Boomer, and Boomers). The table below shows who is included in these age groups. These age groups sometimes differed among polling firms which created some challenges for collecting data. The few adjustments that were made to the age groups for data collecting purposes are described below.

Age Group (yrs) Generation Name Modifications made
18-34 Gen ZY The data includes 18-29, 29-34 and <35 years groups
35-44 Gen YX The data includes 35-44, 35-49 and 30-44 groups
45-54 Gen X The data includes 45-54 and 45-59 groups
55-64 Young Boomers The data includes 50-64 and 55-64 groups
65+ Boomers & Greatest Generation The data includes 60+ and 65+ groups

Some polling firms divided the age groups as 18-34, 35-54, and 55+ years as oppose to the above-mentioned age groups. The age groups reported as 35-54, and 55+ were removed from our analysis and graphs because they will not give us true representation of our selected demographic due to the large age range that spans multiple generations. After removing unusable age data, each age group was plotted on a scatter graph to better compare how each generation changed over time, how they may differ from each other, and how they compare to the provincial average.

Conservative support among Gen ZY stayed rather consistent from the pre-campaign period up until the election at about 30% with few outliers. The NDP polled much lower during the pre-campaign period at 20% – 35%. The levels were similar to the Liberal Party, but unlike their counterparts, the NDP was able to rise significantly among young voters, polling between 30% – 50% throughout the campaign period. The Liberal Party saw their support drop over the four-month period, polling between 10% – 20% by the end of the campaign.

Gen YX party preference shows steady and consistent support for the Conservatives throughout the pre-campaign and campaign periods at close to 40%, only slightly dropping under 40% closer to the election. The NDP and Liberals started with similar support between 20% – 30%. Like other age groups and the provincial average, the NDP rose significantly by the end of the campaign period to 30% – 40% to create a close race with the Conservatives.

Gen X largely supported the Conservatives and maintained a steady voting preference at 40%. NDP support did increase over time from 25% to above 35%. Liberal support fell from 25% to some polls reaching under 20%. It is worth noting that Gen X contains a significantly smaller amount of polling data due to the limited number of polling firms that had a 45-54 or 45-59 category and the removal of the 34-54 age group. Although trends can be seen here, they should be taken with more caution.

The Conservatives had steady support from Young Boomers, polling slightly above the national average at 40%, which fell slightly to 35% in some polls during the campaign period. Support for the NDP grew over time leading the party to poll around 25% – 40% near the election. The Conservatives and NDP were close as the election approached but the Conservatives came out with higher support. Like with other groups, the Liberal Party remained below the PCs and NDP, polling between 15% – 25%.

The voting intentions among Boomers leaned towards the Conservatives at almost 50% in the precampaign period. As was seen provincially and among all other age groups, Conservative support dropped as the campaign period started and the election approached, falling to 35% – 45%. Conservative support among Boomers is still distinguishable from other age groups as the party was clearly ahead in the polls right before the election. Support for NDP increased during the campaigning to 30% – 40% from under 20% in precampaign period. However, this large increase was still not high enough to overtake the Conservatives.

Similar trends of high Conservative, competing NDP, and low Liberal support can be observed across all the age groups in this blog which is comparable to what was observed in the gender and province-wide demographics. The next blog will be the fourth and final blog in this series which will look at voter intentions in the different regions of Ontario.

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.