by Angus Reid | January 19, 2022 9:05 pm
January 20, 2022 – As the pandemic precludes shaking hands and kissing babies in an election year, Premier Doug Ford turned to digging out vehicles and giving constituents rides home this week amid a snowstorm that buried southern Ontario.
The political imperative to re-ingratiate himself with Ontarians is apparent based on new polling data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute showing his Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario slightly trailing the NDP.
New Democrats led by Andrea Horwath have taken a three-point lead in vote intention in Ontario ahead of an expected provincial election this June (36% NDP versus 33% PCPO).
Voters in Canada’s second-most populous province are also expected to head to the polls this year, but the situation looks far more comfortable for incumbent François Legault. Almost two-in-five (37%) Quebecers say they intend to vote for his Coalition Avenir Québec party, a 17-point lead over his closest challenger, the Quebec Liberal Party.
Support for the CAQ remains consistent with the vote share they received in the 2018 election, a total that was enough for them to form a majority government. Legault and the CAQ have held steady in vote intention as his government has taken a hardline stance on the COVID-19 pandemic, putting the province in a curfew for over two weeks  and proposing to tax the unvaccinated. These data were collected in the early days of speculation that a tax would be announced.
While more Quebecers are critical of Legault’s COVID-19 response than at any point in the last two years, it seems to have yet to affect the fortune of the CAQ as the province readies for a fall election.
The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.
Note: Because its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves, data on Prince Edward Island is not released.
Ontario’s upcoming provincial election has the makings of a tight race. Premier Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario’s fortunes have been falling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As Ford faces personal lows in approval as premier, and criticism of his handling of the pandemic rises, the party he leads finds itself behind the opposition NDP in vote intention.
Related: Premiers’ Performance: Ford continues to fall in approval, Houston rides high on strength of COVID-19 handling
The one-third (33%) of Ontarians who say they will cast their vote for a PCPO candidate in an upcoming election represent a decline of 12 points from a pandemic high of 45 per cent in September 2020. That would also represent an eight-point drop from the 41 per cent of votes the party received in the 2018 election.
Ford will go into the fall election without a key minister: Rod Phillips, who is currently the minister of long-term care and previously the finance minister. Phillips is rumoured to be taking a run at the mayor’s seat in Toronto, if John Tory does not seek re-election. While Phillips resigned from cabinet after he pretended he was in Ontario during a COVID holiday to St. Bart’s in 2020, his time away from a minister’s chair was brief and he was seen as a “competent face” and a “stabilizing force” in Ford’s government. Six other PCPO MPPs – including former environment minister Jeff Yurek – have also announced they won’t be seeking re-election.
The Ontario Liberals have dropped further from the two frontrunners, with one-in-five (19%) of prospective voters saying they’ll vote for leader Steven Del Duca’s party in June:
The NDP are favoured by younger voters, including a majority (54%) of 18- to 34-year-old women. However, historically, younger Canadians have been much less likely to vote in provincial elections. Ford and the PCPO enjoy the support of older voters, including a majority of men over the age of 55 (53%). The Liberals are most popular with women older than 34 years old, but support tops out at one-quarter of those groups.
The top two parties enjoy strong vote retention from the last election in 2018. Four-in-five past PCPO (77%) and NDP voters (80%) say they will be sticking with the party they voted for four years ago. While two-thirds of Liberal voters say they will vote again for the party under new leader Del Duca, one-quarter (26%) say they intend to vote NDP:
Quebec Premier François Legault has consistently been one of the most approved-of premiers in the country during his term. While criticism of the Coalition Avenir Québec leader’s handling of the pandemic has risen, he still enjoys approval from the majority of Quebecers, one of only four premiers in the country who can say so.
His party begins an election year with the support of almost two-in-five (37%) Quebecers and a lead of 17 points over the next closest competitor, the Quebec Liberal Party. Support for the CAQ remains consistent with the party’s share of the 2018 election popular vote, when it won 74 of a possible 125 seats.
One-in-five (20%) of Quebecers would cast their vote for leader Dominique Anglade’s Liberal party in the upcoming election, a level that has stayed consistent throughout the pandemic.
In third place in current vote intent is Québec Solidaire, led by the duo of Manon Massé and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. Sixteen per cent of Quebecers would cast their vote for Solidaire, which has found itself third in vote intent in the last four reporting periods.
Parti Québécois and the Conservative Party are polling at 12 per cent and nine per cent respectively:
Legault and the CAQ enjoy overwhelming support among those aged 55 and older, almost quadruple that of the next closest party among men that age. A plurality of 35- to 54-year-old men (34%) and women (29%) also say they would vote for Legault’s party in 2022:
*Small sample size, interpret with caution
There is a significant divide between the province’s English and French speakers. The majority (61%) of English speakers say they intend to vote for the Liberals and one-in-ten (11%) say they will vote for the CAQ. For French speakers, nearly half (46%) say they intend to vote for Legault and the CAQ in an upcoming election, and more say they will vote Solidaire (19%), PQ (16%), and the Conservatives (9%) than Liberal (7%):
The CAQ boasts strong vote retention numbers, as four-in-five (81%) of those who voted for Legault’s party in 2018 say they will repeat that choice in the upcoming election. One-in-ten (12%) say they will move their vote to the Conservative Party.
The Liberals enjoy the repeat support of three-quarters (73%) of 2018 voters. The PQ are the most likely of the four leading parties to have bled support. Three-in-five (61%) say they will return to new leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon’s party, but one-quarter (24%) say they plan to vote for CAQ:
*Small sample size, interpret with caution
The NDP and Premier John Horgan have weathered a trying fall and winter in British Columbia. More than two-in-five (44%) of British Columbians say they would vote for the NDP if an election were held, a number consistent with October, though a six-point drop from highs seen in November 2020 and June 2021.
B.C. has seen record high hospitalizations during the Omicron wave, with reports nurses and doctors are “exhausted” and “ready to quit.” Horgan has been receiving more criticism from constituents on his handling of the pandemic – two-in-five say he’s been doing a “bad job”, the highest number in the last two years.
Indeed, the gap between the B.C. NDP and the right-leaning B.C. Liberals has closed to 13 points, the closest it has been since before the pandemic. Three-in-10 (31%) British Columbians say they will vote for the Liberals, who will select a new leader on Feb. 5. The leadership race is not without its controversy: the party’s election organizing committee will hold an audit of some party memberships after there were membership applications with addresses where there are no homes.
Sixteen per cent of British Columbians say they will vote for the Green Party in the next election:
For the fourth time since March of last year, the Alberta NDP led by Rachel Notley lead in vote intention over the governing United Conservative Party led by Premier Jason Kenney. Two-in-five (42%) Albertans say they prefer the NDP, compared to three-in-10 (31%) UCP voters.
The UCP government has once more found itself embroiled in controversy. Justice Minister Kaycee Madu called the Edmonton chief of police after he received a distracted driving ticket. Kenney asked Madu to step back from his duties while the minister undergoes an “independent review” of his conduct.
Kenney is also facing other challenges from within – Brian Jean, former leader of the Wildrose Party and the runner-up in the 2017 UCP leadership race, who will seek the UCP nomination in his hometown of Fort McMurray – and without – the Wildrose Independence Party, a right-wing party formed in 2020 through the merger of the Freedom Conservative Party and the Wexit Alberta party that repurposed the Wildrose name. Sixteen per cent of Albertans say they will vote for WIP, led by Paul Hinman, a former MLA who led the old Wildrose party in its nascency in 2008:
For only the second time since 2014, fewer than half of Saskatchewan voters say they would cast a ballot for the Saskatchewan Party if an election were held. That last happened in 2017, when then Premier Brad Wall’s government was forced to make severe and unpopular budget cuts as declining resource revenues put a significant dent in the province’s finances. The gap between the Saskatchewan Party and the opposition NDP then narrowed to seven points.
Premier Scott Moe now faces increased scrutiny over his handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and declining personal approval. Rising cases have forced the province’s schools to go online after starting the year in-person without a delay instituted by other provinces. Meanwhile, the NDP is calling for a review after political staffer Raynelle Wilson was promoted to an executive position in the province’s health authority. NDP leader Ryan Meili called Wilson “a political crony” and the move “a power grab.”
Two-in-five (39%) say they will vote for Meilli’s NDP in the next election, putting the party within nine points of vote intention. See detailed tables for all party support.
The switch from Brian Pallister to new Premier Heather Stefanson has done little to boost the fortunes of Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservative Party. The PCs find themselves with a six-point deficit in vote intention as one-in-three (36%) Manitobans say they would cast their vote for Stefanson’s party if an election were held tomorrow. Manitobans are next scheduled to head to the polls in 2023.
Manitoban’s criticism of the handling of the COVID-19 response has carried over from Pallister to Stefanson, as detractors say the government could do more to contain the spread of the virus. Stefanson recently shuffled her cabinet, adding an additional minister to the health portfolio.
Two-in-five (42%) of Manitobans say they would vote for the NDP led by Wab Kinew, who accused the government of giving up on fighting COVID-19 in a impassioned plea to Manitobans to keep following public health restrictions.
One-in-eight (12%) say they would vote for the Liberal Party:
Omicron has wreaked havoc on New Brunswick’s health-care system, to the point where the government has put out a call for volunteers to help alleviate the impact of health-care worker absences. Volunteers are being asked to vaccinate and test for COVID-19, as well as help with other patient services and support work. Three-in-five (58%) in the province say Premier Blaine Higgs’ has done a bad job handling the pandemic, as his overall approval has sunk to new low.
Now, one-quarter (26%) say they would vote for the Higgs-led Progressive Conservative Party in a provincial election, the lowest support for the party since before the pandemic. A decline in the fortunes of the PCs has coincided with a rise for the Liberal Party of New Brunswick. Two-in-five (37%) say they would vote for the Liberals, who will hold a leadership race this summer.
Though the Omicron variant has meant record cases for Nova Scotia, too, the province has yet to experience the same level of strain on its health-care system as neighbouring New Brunswick. Premier Tim Houston has received more praise than criticism for his handling of COVID-19 six months into his term and his party is holding steady in vote intention. Two-in-five (38%) say they would vote for the PCs if an election were imminent.
Since last summer’s election, the leaders of both the NDP and Liberal party have stepped down. After a surprise defeat, the Liberals will have some soul-searching to do according to the province’s political scientists, with an eye towards the next election in 2025. One-quarter (28%) of Nova Scotians say they would vote for the Liberals and a similar number (26%) say they would support the NDP:
A decline in personal approval for Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey appears to coincide with a drop in support for his governing Liberal Party. Though a majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians say they approve of Furey, two-in-five (37%) say they would vote for the Liberals, a drop from the half who said so six months ago.
Furey has received high grades for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it might be economics affecting his party’s electoral outlook, as the government paused this year an annual offshore seismic survey. The program helped fuel the boom of investment in oil and gas in the province. Pausing it has led to criticism from oil and gas companies, and from opposition Progressive Conservative MLAs, who worry the province is abandoning the industry. Newfoundland and Labrador also has the highest unemployment rate in the country, nearly double the national average in December.
The PCs (44%), who are currently without a leader and have not decided when they will select one, hold a seven-point lead over the Liberals (37%) in current vote intention in the province:
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Jan. 7-10, 2022, among a representative randomized sample of 3,375 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.
For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.
To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here. 
Image – Louis Roy/Wikimedia Commons
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