Ontario Politics: Best Premier and Leadership Impressions

Horwath Most Popular Leader; Hudak Least Popular
Wynne, Horwath, and Hudak tied for who would make best Premier

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A new provincial survey released by Abacus Data finds that NDP leader Andrea Horwath is the most popular provincial party leader in the province with Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne not too far behind.  When asked which party leader would make the best Premier of Ontario, Wynne and Horwath were tied at 23% each with Tim Huadak at 20%.

Leadership Favourability

leadershipOverall, 34% of Ontarians have a positive impression of NDP leader Andrea Horwath compared with 30% for Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne, and 23% for PC leader Tim Hudak.  Tim Hudak has the highest negative rating of the leaders tested with 44% saying they have a negative impression.

For the Ontario Liberals, Kathleen Wynne hits the ground running with a net positive personal rating.  Only 21% of Ontarians have a negative impression of her compared with 30% who view her favourably.

The survey results are less positive for PC leader Tim Hudak.  Hudak is viewed positively by less than one in four Ontarians and viewed negatively by 44%, more than double that of Wynne or Horwath.

“Perceptions about Hudak are probably holding the PCs back at this point,” said Abacus Data CEO, David Coletto.  “He is less popular than his party and few respondents who voted for another party in 2011 think he would make the best premier.  That’s a tough position to be in when you are looking to grow support.”

When asked whether the province as a whole is headed in the right direction or whether it was off on the wrong track, 23% believed it was headed in the right direction while 50% believed it was off on the wrong track.  Another 27% of respondents were unsure.

Regionally, respondents in Southwestern Ontario were most pessimistic about the direction of the province while those living in Toronto (416 area code) were most optimistic.

A concern for Kathleen Wynne is that one in three 2011 Liberal voters (31%) think that the province is off on the wrong track while another 28% are unsure.  Her first few months in office should be about reassuring these past supporters that her government is different from the previous one and will not keep Ontario on the same track it is currently on.


Best Premier

When asked which of the current main party leaders would make the best Premier of Ontario, all three leaders were statistically tied with Wynne and Horwath each getting 23% and Tim Hudak at 23%.  One in three respondents (34%) said they were undecided.

“Andrea Horwath is the most popular leader in the province but she has not yet convinced enough Ontarians that she is the best choice for the premier’s chair,” said Coletto.

The results also highlight an opportunity for Kathleen Wynne.  Among respondents who voted Liberal in the 2011 provincial election, 30% were unsure about who would make the best Premier.

“For Kathleen Wynne, the first few weeks as the new Premier are all about reassuring past supporters that he is in control, understands the mistakes the past government made, and is moving the province in a new and better direction,” said Coletto.  “If she can do that while contrasting her policies and leadership approach with Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath, she may be able to rebuild the coalition of voters that elected three consecutive Ontario Liberal governments.”

These results also underscore the challenges before Tim Hudak as he tries to move from opposition to government.

“Tim Hudak has high negatives among the very voters who he needs to convince to vote PC; past Liberal supporters and those that didn’t vote in the last election.  His laser-like focus on economic growth and sound public management align with the public’s priorities ” said Coletto.  “Enough of the public is just not ready to give him the keys to Queen’s Park.”


The survey was conducted online with 1,020 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a panel of over 150,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from February 5 to 6, 2013.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated.   The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1,020 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.