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Who cares most about Liberal scandals?

So far in this campaign, Andrea Horwath has been more aggressive than Tim Hudak in trying to make the Liberals wear the scandals (like gas plants) that occurred under their watch.

The data from our Listening Post survey with Innovative Research Group, though, suggests that attacks on the Liberals’ ethics have gotten a great deal more traction with self-identified Progressive Conservatives than New Democrats.

Perhaps most telling on this front, and some help in explaining why despite its tough rhetoric the NDP has been calling for the Liberals to be put in the “penalty box” rather than given up on altogether, were responses when those who align with each party were asked whether they agree or disagree that “After the past few years, I am so angry at the Ontario Liberals, I will never vote for them again.”

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

Responses to several other questions point to underlying impressions that help explain this discrepancy between Tories and New Democrats (and unaligned voters, to some extent). Here, for instance, is how people who align with each party responded to the question: “When it comes to waste or mismanagement of government spending, do you think the provincial Liberal government is better or worse than other provincial governments we have had in Ontario?”

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

A question about whether the Liberals have been better or worse than past governments when it comes to “favours to friends and insiders” brought a similar response:

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

As a side-note, even most self-identified Liberals don’t seem to think their party of choice has been more ethical than past governments; just that it’s no worse. But it’s quite remarkable how many self-identified New Democrats seem not to think the Liberals have been unusually bad on that front, either.

Now, before going too far in assuming only Mr. Hudak can successfully play the ethics card, it’s worth noting that the pattern is a bit different when it comes to questions about which party would be most ethical in government. Here’s how PCs, New Democrats and unaligned voters responded when asked which party would “do the best job of cleaning up
favours to friends and insiders if they form government”:

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

Also worth noting is how pessimistic unaligned voters are about any of the parties’ ability to run a clean government. Here’s how they responded to that same question about who would clean up favours to friends and insiders:

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

So going by these numbers, if Ms. Horwath is able to make more of her likely supporters care more about Liberal scandals, and/or if she’s able to convince more voters who don’t really associate with any party that she’s truly capable of cleaning up corruption, this issue could be a winner for her. But so far, the biggest impact of all the scandal talk seems to be that it energizes Mr. Hudak’s supporters.

(As parties get more sophisticated in targeting messages to individual voters, we want to get as many people as possible involved in helping us keep track of those messages and how they’re delivering them. If you’d be willing to help us tell the story of this campaign by keeping a campaign diary to let us know who contacted you and uploading campaign material, or maybe giving your reaction to ads, issues and events, you can sign up for the Listening Post Network here.)

analysisandrea horwathpollstim hudak
Filed under: Ontario Election

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