Monday, May 16, 2022

UPDATE: Will Steven Del Duca stop Doug Ford's mediocre, regressive government from winning a second majority?

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

On the one hand, I can understand why Doug Ford's PCs continue to have a decent lead among voters as we approach the June 2nd provincial election.

Many voters aren't yet sick to death of them, and feel ambivalent or even supportive of many of their policies.  Plus, when they look at the main alternatives - Andrea Horwath's NDP and Steven Del Duca's Liberals - voters seem to be unimpressed.   Or at least that has been the case up until now.  

I do get why voters remain unconvinced about Horwath.  She reached her peak performance in 2018 and lost badly.  In my opinion, she's done pretty much nothing to improve since.  Her platform is largely the same.  She still has mostly paper candidates running in the ridings she needs to win to stop the Tories.  She doesn't seem to be bringing much new to this year's pitch and I don't expect her to.  

For pragmatic progressives like myself who took the plunge and voted NDP in 2018 in a desperate bid to stop the Tories, there seems to be no reason to try the same option again.  It would be the definition of insanity.   

The NDP is now down in current polls about 10 points from their 2018 vote total.  And Steven Del Duca's Liberals are up about 10 points from 2018 and seem to be set for some kind of comeback.  The question is how much of a comeback.  

Del Duca was the one wild card going into this election.   The new leader, who won his party's leadership in 2020 just as the COVID pandemic was starting, didn't have much of a chance to make his case to Ontario voters before this election started.   

How's Del Duca doing now that the election campaign is upon us?  It seems their second-place support ahead of the third-place NDP is solidifying.  Liberal policy proposals are solidly progressive and easy to support.   

But are progressive voters convinced it's time to put Del Duca's Liberals back in power in order to get those policies implemented?  It doesn't seem so yet.

Hence, why the NDP's support seems to be hanging in at around 25%, while the Greens also are still grabbing about 5%.  So the Liberals seem stuck at about 28% to 30%, which is not enough to truly turn this election into a race.

Del Duca needs a big night in Monday's leadership debate to really break through and solidify the Liberals' comeback.  I'm hoping that once more voters see Del Duca in action tonight, including his obvious intelligence, political skills and unflappable, no-nonsense demeanour, more will be persuaded to vote for the one party that has a chance of actually beating Doug Ford.

It's possible if progressive voters do get inspired to coalesce behind the Liberals, the end result of this provincial election could be quite different than what most pundits are currently expecting. 

UPDATE MAY 17th

Quick hit analysis after watching last night:

Del Duca had a solid night showing force and confronting Ford well on several fronts and creating key moments which are already going viral.  Del Duca’s answers always focused on the substance of his policies even in the face of ridiculous attacks and insults. He showed admirable restraint and solid awareness of the issues and how his plans can fix many problems we face.  He didn’t do much to expel the old Liberal skeletons and apologize for the errors of the past to show contrition and growth. Had he done that he would’ve won the night.  But as an introduction to voters, Del Duca presented well and may start to pull away into a clearer second place and even challenge Doug Ford’s PCs.

Green Mike Schreiner had the best night with the most engaging answers which used emotion to shred Doug Ford’s record on health care and education.  I’m not sure this strong performance will do much more than guarantee his personal victory in Guelph on June 2 though.  Any Green poll surges typically disappear by Election Day as the party has no ability to identify and get their supporters to the polls.

Doug Ford was stronger in this debate than in 2018.  But he was clearly only speaking to his echo chamber of supporters who would buy the immense exaggeration and bullshit he was selling.  He didn’t necessarily help his cause as I don’t expect the PCs to rise in the polls after last night.  If anything I expect the gap between the Libs and PCs to get smaller.  Ford may still win the election and most cynical pundits will say that’s all it takes for Ford to be considered the debate winner.

Andrea Horwath showed us nothing about why she’s still here, spending the night talking about vague emotions, stories and plans.  The same thing didn’t work the last three campaigns so I doubt it will this time.  A lot of progressives who were sitting on the fence are probably either to vote Liberal now or possibly Green.  Those intent on challenging the dud that is Ford will probably give Del Duca a chance, especially if polls show the Liberals pulling up into the 30s and challenging the PCs. 

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