Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative party have widened their lead ahead of next week’s Ontario election, a new survey suggests.
The Nanos Research survey of 504 adult voters was commissioned by CTV News and CP24 and conducted over the weekend.
It found that the Tories continue to have a comfortable advantage among decided voters, with the NDP and Liberal parties in a race for second.
The pollster said that 37.3 per cent of decided voters in its latest survey intend to cast a ballot for the PCs, up from 36.1 per cent last week and 35.4 per cent the week prior.
The Liberals remain in second at 28 per cent but are now being challenged by Andrea Horwath and the NDP, who picked up three points over the last week and are now at 23.2 per cent among decided voters.
The Green party are in fourth at 6.3 per cent while the New Blue party are at three per cent and the Ontario Party are at 1.7 per cent.
The race is close in the GTA, where Ford and the Tories have just a four-point lead over the Liberals. But in the rest of Ontario the party enjoys a 15-point lead over the Liberals.
Ford also appears to be gaining popularity as the campaign goes on, despite facing some criticism for holding fewer public events than the other leaders.
The latest Nanos survey suggests that 33.8 per cent of respondents picked the PC leader as their preferred choice for premier, up from 29.9 per cent at the outset of the campaign.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was second at 23.4 per cent (up 1.8 percentage points since last week) while Horwath was third at 17.5 per cent (down 0.5 percentage points).
The Green party’s Mike Schreiner is fourth at 9.8 per cent. He has seen the biggest gains over the course of the campaign after initially being listed as the preferred premier by only 4.3 per cent of respondents on May 2.
The poll also found that respondents trended to perceive Schreiner’s performance on the campaign trail as superior to the other leaders.
He was given a median score of 5.7 out of 10, compared to 5.1 for Ford and 4.5 for both Del Duca and Horwath.
“You know, a number of Ontarians were kind of unsure at the beginning of the campaign who they preferred as premier but right now Ford is up four points from the beginning of the campaign, Del Duca is up six points, Schreiner is up six points, the only provincial party leader that is down compared to the beginning of the campaign is Andrea Horvath,” Nik Nanos, who is the founder and chief data scientist of Nanos research, told CP24. “A number of the party leaders they've been able to make some traction. But for Horvath on a personal basis, not so much compared to those numbers at the very beginning of May.”
Cost of living continues to gain ground as top issue
Meanwhile, when it comes to the issues the cost of living continues to gain ground as a major ballot box consideration.
The latest survey from Nanos found that 18.9 per cent of respondents now identify inflation as their most important issue, up from 11.9 per cent at the start of the campaign.
Healthcare remains the top issue overall with 25 per cent of respondents identifying it as their most important issue of concern provincially.
The environment was identified as the top issue by 9.7 per cent of respondents while housing (6.8 per cent), the economy (6.7 per cent), education (4.7 per cent) and fuel prices (3.7 per cent) were also frequently mentioned.
“This election in addition to being focused on healthcare, looks to be about the cost of living, the rising cost of gas and how Ontarians are just trying to pay their bills,” Nanos said.
Ontarians head to the polls on June 2.
Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land-and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 504residents of Ontario, 18 years of age or older, between May 21stto 22nd, 2022 as part of a tracking survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and were administered the survey online. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Ontario.
Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialling with a maximum of five call backs.
The margin of error for a random survey of 504 Ontario residents is ±4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.