If an election were held today, the Ontario Liberal party would plummet from majority government to third place, a poll released Monday suggests. The Mainstreet poll for Postmedia is full of bad news for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne: 67 per cent of respondents disapprove of the job she’s doing and 58 per cent want her to resign.
Of the 2,524 people surveyed by phone on Nov. 2, 19 per cent support the Liberals, down from 21 per cent when the last Mainstreet/Postmedia poll was conducted on Sept. 17-18.
The Progressive Conservatives increased their lead by one point to 36 per cent. The New Democrats saw the biggest shift, with a three-point jump to 21 per cent, while the Green party held steady at five per cent.
“This is the first time in our polling history that we’ve seen the Liberals in third across Ontario,” said Quito Maggi, Mainstreet’s chief executive.
The NDP’s Andrea Horwath remains the most popular party leader, with a 59 per cent approval rating.
Maggi says centre-left voters have been turned off by recent right-wing policy decisions by Wynne, including privatizing Hydro One and cancelling $3.8 billion in renewable energy projects.
PC leader Patrick Brown has a 51 per cent approval rating. As the newest party leader, he has been working to improve his profile among voters.
In the latest poll, 19 per cent said they were “not sure” when asked their opinion of Brown, an improvement from 27 per cent per cent in September.
However, 18 per cent of voters selected “not sure” when asked their opinion of the premier, who has been dominating headlines for years. Her approval rating dropped one point to 15 per cent.
Across Ontario, 58 per cent of people support Brown’s call for Wynne to resign over last week’s bribery charges resulting from the 2015 byelection in Sudbury.
The premier has the most support among people aged 18-34, where only 44 per cent think she should resign. She has the least support among those aged 65 and older, where 81 per cent want her to go.
“The really, really bad news for Ontario Liberals is that 59 per cent of Ontario voters are following the recent charges against Ontario Liberal party staff and operatives, including 42 per cent either very or somewhat closely,” said Quito.
Last week, Patricia Sorbara, the Ontario Liberal party’s chief executive, was charged with bribery under the provincial Election Act. Sorbara, who had been hand-picked by Wynne to run the Liberals’ re-election campaign, promptly resigned.
Gerry Lougheed, a Liberal powerbroker in Sudbury, has also been charged.
The two are accused of offering a bribe to Glenn Thibeault, who is now the province’s energy minister, to induce him to switch from the NDP to the Liberals before the byelection.
The poll has some good news for the Liberals: 77 per cent thought Wynne was not involved in the bribery proceedings, while only two per cent called her “very involved.”
Maggi cautions the poll may not capture voters’ precise feelings about the bribery charges as it was conducted only one day after they were filed.
“If something is in the media cycle for two-three days, we see the impact five days later. The truth is these numbers could probably get a lot worse,” he said.
The poll, which surveyed a mixture of landlines and cellphones, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.95 per cent 19 times out of 20.