On Monday, we took a look at how Tim Hudak has polarized the electorate.
It’s perhaps worth noting just how big a gap there seems to be in Ontario between self-identified Progressive Conservatives and everyone else to begin with, when it comes to socio-economic questions and values.
Consider a few examples from the first Listening Post survey – most of which tie in to issues being debated in this campaign, but also transcend them in the sense that they can’t just be traced to things Mr. Hudak is saying on the campaign trail.
Start with how each group of voters feels about the following statement: “People who don’t get ahead should blame themselves, not the system.”
Then there’s this one: “It is morally wrong that our economy allows a few people to have so much more money than most others.”
Meanwhile, every voter group overwhelmingly agrees with the statement “We have a pressing social deficit in Ontario that is measured by problems such as homelessness, waiting lists for health care and lack of access to post-secondary education” – except, you guessed it, Tories.
Finally, here’s one that’s fairly topical, given an ongoing clash between Kathleen Wynne’s relative economic interventionism (including direct supports for businesses) and Mr. Hudak’s call for government to get out of the way (including by ending what he considers corporate welfare).
Respondents were asked whether government should be “an active partner to help Ontario businesses compete in the world with incentives to encourage research, training programs and other initiatives to support high potential industries,” or if it best helps business by “reducing taxes and red tape and staying out of the way, not by trying to pick winners with taxpayers’ money.”
It’s not exactly a shock that PC voters are a lot more conservative than everyone else. But the starkness of these numbers helps better understand Mr. Hudak’s election strategy, whether or not one agrees with it.
Well before the campaign started, Tories contended that there simply isn’t that big a swath of voters available to them in this province. The corollary is that they’re never going to win office with mass persuasion efforts; the path to victory is much more about making sure that the share of the electorate that shares their values, which they figure makes up roughly a third of the electorate, is more motivated and mobilized to vote than every other segment.
To see the difference in attitudes is to see their point. Mr. Hudak’s views are so at odds with most people who don’t usually vote PC that trying to convince them otherwise would in most cases probably be a waste of time.
(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.)