More than one poll says Liberal Premier McGuinty did well enough in Ontario election debate

Sep 28th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Conservative leader Tim Hudak before Tuesday night's debate. Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson/National Post.

Probably the fairest thing that can be said about last night’s Ontario election debate on TV is that supporters of all three major parties represented can take some comfort from the performance of their leader.  (See, eg : “Hard hitting exchanges – but no knockout in Ontario leaders’ debate.”)

Beyond this, it is intriguing to compare the assessments of the Queen’s Park columnists for the two oldest (and largest) newspapers in the provincial capital city.

According to Adam Radwanski at the Globe and Mail: “Locked in a fight for his political life, Dalton McGuinty … was anything but a soothing presence. Throwing around facts and figures at a frantic clip … Mr. McGuinty was the most wired person on the stage … In a campaign that is as much about motivating supporters as it is about winning over converts, that should be enough to at least keep the Liberals competitive … At the same time, anyone looking for reassurance that Mr. Hudak is ready to take the next step received it, and those parking their votes with the NDP probably now feel a little more secure … In other words, the log jam may be even more set in place than it was coming in – no matter how frantic Mr. McGuinty’s efforts were to break it.”

According to Martin Regg Cohn at the Toronto Star: On the “sports channel, victory almost certainly went to the two rookie leaders, Tim Hudak of the PCs and Andrea Horwath of the NDP … On any scoring card, these two contenders both put their best faces forward. Together …  On the premier channel, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty held his own. It wasn’t an especially endearing performance … But he made a persuasive case … He was plodding, often fussing with his reading glasses, but never rattled … On the premier channel, McGuinty prevailed.”

Dalton McGuinty shakes hands with Tim Hudak as Andrea Horwath looks on following Tuesday's debate. MARK BLINCH/REUTERS.

If I had to pick one or the other of these two columnists as closest to my own perceptions, it would be Mr. Cohn. And I think the thrust of his particular assessment that on “the premier channel, McGuinty prevailed” is borne out by a “post-debate online poll” with “1470 respondents,” conducted by Ipsos Reid for Global News. In this instant reading of the people’s pulse, “33 per cent thought the Liberal leader performed the best, while 29 per cent favoured Horwath, and 25 per cent thought PC leader Tim Hudak won the debate.”

The relative strength of Premier McGuinty’s performance – as wired, not soothing or endearing, and plodding as it was –  is also reflected in a more casual online poll at the Bullet News Niagara website, which had attracted 474 respondents as of 12:35 AM this morning. The results here were Dalton McGuinty (Liberals) 57%, Tim Hudak (conservatives)  27%, Andrea Horwath (New Democrats) 11%, and “No clear winner” 5%. So … the ultimate moment of truth will now arrive soon enough – just a week tomorrow, on October 6! And then we will know the deepest meaning of  the debate last night.

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  1. I was disabled by my former employer.
    My life , my dreams collapsed, but I want to voice my confidence in McGuinty himself .
    He is the only genuine , credible with real compassion for average Ontarian . He is the only Leader in coming elections that we can count on!
    If Ontarians want to see continuity of Ontario’s recovery and success, then there is only one choice in elections and that is one more term for proven Premier- McGuinty!

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