Last week, I flagged an Abacus Data poll that suggested that a couple weeks into the campaign, 71 per cent of Ontarians hadn’t been directly contacted by any parties or candidates, and that no party had reached more than 15 per cent of voters.
The latest Abacus poll, which was taken from May 21-23 and which you can see in full here, suggests that roughly three weeks since the campaign unofficially started, 60 per cent still said no contact had been made with them.
That figure may be a bit lower than it should be, because some people may not realize the efforts parties or candidates have been trying to make. But it’s still strikingly low, pointing again at the limited ground resources each party has.
What’s equally telling, and perhaps more indicative of how the race is playing out, is which parties respondents said had contacted them. Once again the Liberals and Tories appear to have reached roughly the same number — 24 and 22 per cent, respectively — while the NDP lags behind at 14 per cent.
The relative lack of contact is no doubt a factor in why, as per the research that Innovative Research Group did for us, the NDP is generally getting noticed less in this campaign than the other two parties. And again, that adds to its challenge in avoiding the deadly perception of a two-way race.
That said, just because the NDP has less of a province-wide presence doesn’t mean it’s necessarily getting beat on the ground in ridings it has a good chance of winning. The same Abacus poll asked respondents to identify which party currently holds their riding, so it could cross-reference data. And it looks like New Democrats have roughly the same advantage in contacting voters in their ridings as Liberals and Progressive Conservatives do in theirs.
From what I’ve been hearing from central campaigns and from the ground, the NDP is otherwise concentrating resources on a relatively small number of ridings it thinks it can take, and all but ignoring the rest. So whereas the other two parties have a fairly strong presence in a majority of ridings, the New Democrats don’t.
That perhaps makes sense from their perspective, since nobody really thinks Andrea Horwath is gunning for a majority government here. But it does run the risk of driving down their overall poll numbers, helping create that two-way race perception. And if nothing else, for reasons mentioned previously, it’s extremely unhelpful to Tim Hudak.