Ford vs. Poilievre: What Ontarians think plus the latest Ontario politics tracker

From March 14 to 21, 2024, Abacus Data conducted a survey of 1,500 Ontario adults exploring several topics as part of our regular national omnibus surveys.

Every month, with our media partner the Toronto Star, we track how Ontarians are feeling about their political choices and add new topics based on current events and discussions. In this edition of the survey, we explored perceptions about Doug Ford’s government in more depth and the relationship between Ford, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

We begin by examining the current political landscape in Ontario.

Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs lead by 14 percentage points over Bonnie Crombie’s Ontario Liberals.

If an election were held today, 41% of committed voters in Ontario would vote PC with the Ontario Liberals at 27%, the Ontario NDP at 21%, and the Greens at 7%.

Since our last survey, the PC and Liberal vote share is steady while the Ontario NDP is up 2.

Regionally, the PCs lead in every region of the province. They are ahead by 9 in Toronto, 11 in the GTHA, 21 in southwestern Ontario, and 19 in eastern Ontario.

The PCs also lead among men (by 21) and women (by 6) and across every age group. Over time, we have noticed that the PCs have become more popular among younger Ontarians. This mimics what we have seen at the national level with Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives and something we think is directly tied to the popularity of Poilievre among younger Ontarians. More on that below.

When it comes to the Ford government overall, 1 in 3 Ontarians approve of the government’s job performance while 43% disapprove. Since last month, the Ford government’s approval rating is up 4-points while disapproval is down 5 points since the beginning of the year.

Impressions of the four main party leaders are stable since last month. 1 in 3 have a favourable view of Premier Ford compared with 43% who have a negative impression for a net score of -11.

Marit Stiles has a net score of +2, while Bonnie Crombie is even with 27% positive and 27% negative.

How do Ontarians View the Ford Government?

Respondents were asked to choose phrases or words that describe the Ford government. We asked the same question to our national sample about the Trudeau government and to a large sample in Alberta about the provincial government led by Danielle Smith. We will share results of those results in the coming days.

In Ontario, views of the Ford government are mixed. For example, Ontarians are about evenly split on whether the provincial government is focused or distracted, whther it is clear on what it wants Ontario to be or not, and whether it is effective or ineffective. Moreover, about 1 in 3 feel the provincial government is focused on the right priorities, proactive rather than reactive, and empathetic rather than indifferent.

And the importance of these perceptions are shown when we look at the correlation between perceptions and vote intention. The table below reports the PC vote share by response. It shows that the strongest predictors of support for the PCs are among those who think the government is focused on the right priorities, is collaborative, is effective, and is empathetic. And if you think about the Premier’s actions over the past several months – efforts to be seen as “getting things done” and responsive to the public (empathy) – are important to its image and political support.

Is Pierre Poilievre lifting the Ford PCs in Ontario?

In this survey, we also asked several questions about the relationship between Doug Ford, Justin Trudeau, and Pierre Poilievre – trying to understand what public perceptions are and whether Pierre Poilievre is helping or hurting the PCs in Ontario.

Here’s what we found:

Half of Ontarians believe that the relationship between Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau is close or at least cordial and profession. Another 30% believe it is cold, distant, or antagonistic.

In contrast, fewer people have a sense of the relationship between Doug Ford and Pierre Poilievre. 38% don’t know what the relationship is like with the rest split. More feel the relationship is positive or cordial (48%) than think it’s cold, distant, or antagonistic (15%).

When asked whether they think Doug Ford and Pierre Poilievre would work well together or not, if Poilievre were to become Prime Minister, 45% think they would work well together, including 74% of PC supporters, 66% of federal Conservative supporters in Ontario. Federal Liberal supporters in Ontario are split with 35% thinking they would work well together and 35% thinking they wouldn’t.

When asked who they think Doug Ford would prefer to be Prime Minister – Poilievre or Trudeau – 56% think he’d prefer Poilievre as Prime Minister while about 1 in 5 think he prefers Trudeau. 27% are unsure. Among Ontario PC supporters, 12% think he’d prefer Trudeau. Among federal Conservative supporters in Ontario, that drops to 5%.

We also asked people how they felt about Ford and Poilievre. 1 in 4 Ontarians (26%) say they like both men while 16% like Poilievre but not Ford, and 10% like Ford but not Poilievre. 31% like neither while 16% don’t have clear views on either of them.

Among Ontario PC supporters, 66% say they like both while 15% like Ford and not Poilievre while 9% like Poilievre and not Ford. Among federal Conservative supporters in Ontario, half like both men equally while 28% like Poilievre but not Ford and 6% like Ford and not Poilievre.

Finally, when we ask those who would vote Conservative federally AND Progressive Conservative in Ontario whether they identify more closely as a Ford Conservative or a Poilievre Conservative, 44% identify more as a Poilievre Conservative, 20% more as a Ford Conservative, and 33% say they identify with both equally. Interestingly, federal/provincial Conservative voters under 44 are more likely to identify with Poilievre signally the impact that Poilievre’s popularity with younger people is having on Ontario PC support.

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The Upshot

According to Abacus Data CEO David Coletto: “Doug Ford’s PC Party remain in a strong position in Ontario. The provincial government’s approval rating is improving, disapproval is dropping, and its hypothetical vote intention is holding steady.

The additional questions we asked this month provide nuanced insight into the complex relationship between the federal Conservatives led by Pierre Poilievre and the provincial Progressive Conservative (PC) Party led by Doug Ford in Ontario. It also sheds light on potential dynamics between Doug Ford and the federal political leaders, Pierre Poilievre and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Our polling indicates a general perception that Doug Ford has a closer or at least a cordial and professional relationship with Justin Trudeau compared to Pierre Poilievre, with half of Ontarians viewing the Ford-Trudeau relationship positively. However, perceptions of Ford’s relationship with Poilievre are less clear, with a significant portion of the population either unaware of the nature of their relationship or viewing it as positive or cordial.

A notable percentage of Ontarians, including a majority of PC and federal Conservative supporters, believe that Ford and Poilievre would work well together if Poilievre were to become Prime Minister. This suggests a perceived alignment or compatibility in their political or governance approaches among their supporters.

Given the perception that Ford has a somewhat positive relationship with both Trudeau and Poilievre, Ford may navigate his political strategy based on practical considerations rather than personal affinity. However, the strong belief among Ontarians that he would prefer Poilievre as Prime Minister, especially among Conservative supporters, may pressure Ford to display a more visible alignment or cooperation with Poilievre, especially if Poilievre’s influence and popularity continues to grow. This pressure will grow even more if more and more people come to expect that Poilievre will be Prime Minister after the next federal election.

The distinction between those who identify more with Poilievre or Ford among Conservative voters hints at differing political brands within the Conservative spectrum in Ontario. This differentiation could influence Ford’s approach to provincial governance, potentially balancing between maintaining his political identity and aligning with Poilievre’s policies to ensure cohesive support from the Conservative base.

Finally, these results also demonstrate the importance of the Ford government following through on its promise to get things done as perceptions of focus and effectiveness are the strongest predictors of support for the Ontario PC Party.”

Looking to conduct polling or market research in 2024? Have budget left to spend before the end of March? Send Yvonne an email to connect with the Abacus Data team today!


The survey was conducted with 1,500 Ontario adults from March 16 to 21, 2024. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

This survey was paid for by Abacus Data Inc.

Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here:


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