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New poll shows PC leadership down to 'coin flip' between Ford, Elliott

Ontario PC Party leadership candidate Doug Ford participates in a question-and-answer session at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa on Feb. 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A new poll shows the Ontario PC leadership race is down to a coin flip between Doug Ford and Christine Elliott.

Mainstreet Research surveyed just over 17,000 PC party members between February 21 and 26 and found that Ford has 36.7 per cent support among decided voters while Elliott has attracted 32.7 per cent support.

Caroline Mulroney has the support of 20 per cent of Conservative members while Tanya Granic Allen is fourth with just 10.6 per cent support.

The poll was conducted while Patrick Brown was still part of the leadership race. With Brown having withdrawn his name on Feb 26, pollsters took the second choice of Brown supporters as the first choice in the leadership race.

The polling firm found that if Brown had remained in the race, the top three contenders would be separated by mere percentage points. Brown would have been the choice of 25.6 per cent of decided members while Elliott and Ford each garnered 25.4 per cent support.

Mainstreet’s polling numbers show Ford to be the beneficiary of Brown’s decision to leave the race as more of the former leaders supporters have the former Toronto mayoral candidate as their second choice. Ford would also gain a majority of Granic Allen supporters on a second ballot.

Elliott is the preferred second choice of Caroline Mulroney supporters and she needs the former Prime Minister’s daughter to have a strong showing on the first ballot in order to prevail over Ford, according to pollsters.

While Mulroney failed to win any of the voting simulations performed by Mainstreet, her chances of winning the leadership race increase if she is second after the first ballot. Ironically, her father, Brian Mulroney, was second on the first ballot in the 1983 federal PC race which he went on to win.