Ford’s Ontario PCs lead by 17

From July 20 to 25, 2023, Abacus Data conducted a survey of 1,000 Ontario adults updating our tracking of views and opinions about provincial politics in Ontario.

As voters in Ottawa and Scarborough head to the polls tomorrow in two provincial by-elections, Doug Ford and the PCs hold a commanding lead province-wide.

41% of committed voters would vote for the PCs with the Liberals (24%) and NDP (23%) statistically tied for second. The PCs lead in all regions of the province and across demographic groups.

Overall, 35% of residents approve of the job performance of Doug Ford and the provincial government while 43% disapprove. Among 2022 PC voters, 69% approve while 8% disapprove.

In this survey, we asked several new questions to gauge how Ontarians feel the provincial government is doing in several policy areas.

First, we asked people whether they feel the provincial government is focused too much, about the right amount, or not focused enough on several policy areas. A clear majority feel the provincial government is not focused enough on housing, affordability, and healthcare.

When we ask people to rate the provincial government’s performance in the same areas, on a scale from 0 to 10, the government’s performance on housing, affordability, and healthcare get the lowest overall scores. In fact, there isn’t an area where the government is perceived to be performing well but it gets higher grades for its handling of growing the economy, improving transit, and on education.

Among PC voters in 2022, housing and affordability are two areas where the government faces some vulnerability. About 1 in 3 past PC voters give the government poor grades on its handling of those issues.

Finally, in this survey, because the government and the premier has faced criticism over some of the decisions it has made in recent months, we asked the following question:

When it comes to decisions that Doug Ford and his government have made, which of the following comes closest to your view?

Overall, 54% think Doug Ford and the government have made decision primarily about what’s in the best interest of his friends and supporters. 27% say decisions have been made primarily about what’s in the best interest of people in the province. The remaining 19% were unsure.

Among past PC voters, 52% think the government has made decision in the public’s interest, but 1 in 3 say it has made them for its supporters and friends.

The Upshot

Doug Ford and the PCs remain in a solid position. Since last month, their lead over the opposition parties has grown, despite some frustration over the government’s handling of some important issues – maining affordability and housing.

The Ford government could be vulnerable on criticism that it’s decisions are motivated by a desire to help friends rather than what’s in the best interest of the public. We will see whether this sticks.

But ultimately, for the PCs to lose, voters who cast a ballot for a PC candidate have to switch their support. We aren’t seeing much evidence of that happening, frankly becauses voters don’t see any of the alternatives right now as viable. As the Ontario Liberal leadership race unfolds and voters get to know Marit Stiles more that could change, but right now, Doug Ford remains in the drivers seat.


The survey was conducted with 1,000 adults living in Ontario adults from July 20 to 25, 2023. 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 +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario’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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