News / Toronto

Dropping Brown as leader has helped Ontario Tories: poll

PC leadership hopefuls Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney and Doug Ford are all more popular than Premier Kathleen Wynne, a new poll suggests.

Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidates Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott. Since Patrick Brown resigned, the Tories' support is at 43 per cent, the Liberals' is at 28 per cent, the NDP's is at 20 per cent, and the Greens' is at 8 per cent, a new poll suggests.

JUSTIN FAUTEUX / TORONTO STAR / CP

Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidates Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott. Since Patrick Brown resigned, the Tories' support is at 43 per cent, the Liberals' is at 28 per cent, the NDP's is at 20 per cent, and the Greens' is at 8 per cent, a new poll suggests.

Dumping Patrick Brown as leader has helped the Progressive Conservatives no matter who wins the party’s leadership, a new poll suggests.

In Campaign Research’s first public opinion survey since Brown resigned as leader almost three weeks ago, the firm found all three Tory contenders are more popular than Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“When you’ve got the stark contrast between Patrick Brown and Kathleen Wynne people were on the fence – or at least tied between the two leaders,” Campaign Research CEO Eli Yufest said Monday.

“Now that people have been given more options – namely Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney, and Christine Elliott – they’re giving the PCs a more serious second look,” said Yufest.

With the party electing a new leader March 10, the pollster surveyed voter intent, testing the premier and her governing party against the three hopefuls.

Elliott, a former MPP, was the most popular – 46 per cent of respondents would cast a ballot for a PC party led by her compared to 23 per cent for Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats, 20 per cent for Wynne’s Liberals, and 7 per cent for Mike Schreiner’s Greens.

Rookie PC candidate Mulroney’s Tories were at 41 per cent compared to 25 per cent for Horwath’s NDP, 22 per cent for Wynne’s Liberals, and 8 per cent for Schreiner’s Greens.

Former Toronto councillor Ford’s PC party was at 39 per cent compared to 24 per cent apiece for Horwath’s NDP and Wynne’s Liberals, and 7 per cent for Schreiner’s Greens.

When no leaders’ names are surveyed, the Tories are at 43 per cent, the Liberals at 28 per cent, the NDP at 20 per cent, and the Greens are at 8 per cent.

Using an online panel of 1,426 Ontario voters, Campaign Research polled between Friday and Sunday. A probability sample of that size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

In January, the company’s monthly tracking survey found Brown’s Tories at 35 per cent, Wynne’s Liberals at 34 per cent, Horwath’s New Democrats at 23 per cent, and Schreiner’s Greens at six per cent.

Yufest cautioned against reading into the latest poll that the June 7 election is a lock for the Tories — no matter who they choose as leader.

“When you’ve got the major upheaval coupled with the intense media attention that’s been given to the party we see a lot of … volatility,” he said, noting all of the controversies plaguing the Conservatives appear to be sticking to Brown not his would-be successors.

“None of them were obviously involved in any of that. All three of the (leadership) candidates are outside of caucus – none of them are sitting MPPs – so these three candidates are the new face or the fresh face of the party.”

As in past Campaign Research polls, Wynne’s personal approval ratings lag behind her party.

The premier had 17 per cent approval, 69 per cent disapproval, and 13 per cent didn’t know.

Horwath had 37 per cent approval, 18 per cent disapproval, and 45 per cent didn’t know.

Elliott had 32 per cent approval, 14 per cent disapproval, and 54 per cent didn’t know.

Ford had 29 per cent approval, 36 per cent disapproval, and 35 per cent didn’t know.

Mulroney had 27 per cent approval, 20 per cent disapproval, and 53 per cent didn’t know.

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