Ontario election 2018, III : Maybe it’s NOT turning into the Con vs. NDP struggle Stephen Harper dreamed of ????

May 25th, 2018 | By | Category: In Brief

UPDATE MAY 28, 12:30 AM ET –  INITIAL REACTION TO ONTARIO ELECTION, SUNDAY LEADERS’ DEBATE : Whatever else, on this kind of subject Twitter cuts closer to the bone (and thus more intriguingly) than the much-abused mainstream media.

Everyone has their own tastes and convictions. Two tweets from justly eminent conservative journalist John Ibbitson – about an hour apart – struck me as especially intriguing :

* “If a televised debate could move numbers, the Ontario Liberals’ numbers would move tomorrow. Kathleen Wynne’s performance is head and shoulders above Andrea Horvath’s. And Doug Ford does not belong on that stage.”

* “Bottom line for me: Ford: an incoherent glop of policies he couldn’t convincingly explain. Appeared confused at times. Horwath: Aggressive and argumentative, but got her message across. Wynne: Proud of her legacy. No regrets. Master of every file. But people have already said no.”

I also liked Susan Delacourt’s “Watching the  #onpoli leaders’ debate. That “I’m not sorry” bit by @Kathleen_Wynne off the top was pretty powerful. May not change minds, but memorable.”

Traditionally Liberal policy and politics guru Warren Kinsella (who, some may be starting to think, actually could be a closet supporter of his friend Doug Ford this time around?) gave what may finally be the most cynical but nonetheless trenchant observation :

“This debate, in and of itself, won’t matter. It was at 6:30 on a beautiful almost-Summer evening. Few watched it … All that’ll matter are the clips that show up later. I suspect @Kathleen_Wynne will prevail in those – which is what @fordnation needed her to do.”

Meanwhile, just before the debate the latest Abacus ON Pulse survey (May 25—26) went some distance toward confirming the sizeable NDP surge in the latest Forum poll. Abacus ON Pulse found NDP 37% , PC 33%, LIB 23%.

Its literary conclusion is worth quoting too : “The election, by all accounts, is too close to call. The NDP has momentum headed into the Leaders Debate tonight.” It “remains incredibly difficult to imagine a Liberal comeback.” And “PC support has declined somewhat (thanks more to undecideds moving to the NDP than a loss of its own support) but its support remains solid and concentrated among voters more likely to vote.”

PROLOGUE. MAY 27, 5PM ET : Many thanks to Gary Davis@VoteTheGOPOut18 for two recent quotation tweets, that also seem to nicely set the stage for tonight’s Ontario election leaders’ debate from the depths of the CBC in downtown Toronto (among many other things, the most populous Canadian province’s capital city).

First, from the great liberal, populist, politically incorrect Los Angeles environmentalist and stand-up comic and social critic, Bill Maher : “Over the last 30 years Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital.” (And what if we Ontarians stuck a “New” in between “years” and “Democrats” these days?)

Second, from the great liberal critic of the American Gilded Age that followed the Civil War, Mark Twain : “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

The final thought here, as preparations for viewing the great debate on the 65-inch TV in the counterweights conference room wrap up, is just may the best woman win. And (yet again, and again) the ultimate thing to remember was spelled out years ago by the last great master of the Big Blue Machine : “The people of Ontario have never been spoiled by too much perfection in government.”

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. UPDATE MAY 25 – BACK TO HUGH SEGAL? [UPDATE 2 – MAY 27, 3 PM ET] : What a difference a day makes in Ontario election 2018.  The world north of the North American Great Lakes awoke this morning to a 5AM posting of a new and almost dramatic Forum Poll taken just this past Wednesday, May 23.  It reported : “amongst those decided and leaning almost half of Ontarians (47%) say that they would support the NDP. A third (33%) say they would support the PCs, and one-sixth (14%) say they would support the Liberals … If the election were held today, we project these results would see an NDP Majority Government with 79 seats.”

Éric Grenier, guru of the CBC Poll Tracker, remains more cautious as he integrates this latest Forum poll into his broader sample of current surveys. His “Updated on May 25, 2018” rounded popular vote numbers are NDP 38%, PC 37%, LIB 20%. (Later in the day this moved to NDP 36%, PC 36%, LIB 21%.) And he further explains : “The PCs are still projected to win the most seats because they hold a lead in the GTA-Hamilton-Niagara region, where they can win twice as many seats as the NDP despite a relatively modest edge in the polls. But they are losing their advantage quickly – the NDP has moved ahead in Toronto and has widened its lead in southwestern and northern Ontario. The best hope for the Liberals at this stage is a few seats in Toronto and Ottawa.”

So (as Premier Wynne might say) … we are still some distance from an NDP majority (or even just minority) government in the real world … But even serious progressive supporters of the current premier might be starting to breathe a little easier?

Even old-school Ontario observers and just plain political junkies might also be starting to think, at least for the moment, that a Premier Doug Ford may not actually be inevitable. The ancient PC guru Hugh Segal’s seasoned wisdom of the late 20th century may still have at least some currency in the age of Donald Trump : “What is fundamental is that no Conservative wins an election in Ontario by getting only Conservative votes. The Conservative core on a good day is 24 percent. A Conservative can win an election in the province only if a lot of people who normally vote otherwise decide the leader can be trusted for the next four years.”

In any case there are now a few more reasons to stay tuned …

(And  a May 23-24 EKOS poll – NDP 36%, PC 35%, LIB 20% – also suggests that the latest Forum poll could prove something of an outlier, with residual Liberal strength giving the Ford Nation team the most seats in the end, though possibly not a majority?) Meanwhile, for earlier deep background on Ontario election 2018 see “Ontario election 2018, II : Is it turning into the Conservatives vs. New Democrats struggle Stephen Harper dreamed of ????”.)

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