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Campaigns matter, but Kathleen Wynne's polling deficit will be tough to overcome

Campaigns matter, but Kathleen Wynne's polling deficit will be tough to overcome
From CBC - November 8, 2017

Only a little more than 200 days remain before Ontarians cast their ballots in the next provincial election. The polls suggest that Patrick Brown's Progressive Conservatives are in a strong position to defeat Kathleen Wynne's Liberals and bring her party's 14-year reign in Ontario to an end.

But can the polls more than seven months out from election day really tell us anything about what the result might be?

In six surveys conducted by four pollsters since the beginning of September, the PCs have averaged about 40 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 30 per cent and the New Democrats under Andrea Horwath at 23 per cent.

That average 10-percentage pointlead for the Tories is the widest any party has enjoyed this far out from an election campaign since 2003, when Dalton McGuinty's Liberals held a polling lead of that size over Ernie Eves's governing PCs. The Liberals eventually won by about 12 points.

This is a good sign for Brown. But a lead in the run-up to a campaign is far from concretein two of the last five elections, the party ahead in the polls with seven to nine months to go before the election ended up losing.

Clearly, campaigns matter.

In 1999, the PCs gained six points and the Liberals lost three over the last months before the election, turning McGuinty'spolling lead into Mike Harris's re-electon.

In 2011, Tim Hudak'sTories dropped six points, with the Liberals gaining two and the New Democrats soaring by eight points in the run-up to the vote. That ruined Hudak'shopes of defeating McGuintythat year.

And in the last six months before the 2014 election, the Liberals picked up five points while the PCs dropped one and the NDP fell three. What was looking like a toss-up became a Liberal majority.

Liberals have a history of rebounding

PC lead leaves wider margin for error

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