With the convention looming, the race for leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is proving to be too close to call, according to a new poll.
The survey, conducted by Mainstreet Research and not sponsored by a third party, found that Christine Elliott has a slight edge over Doug Ford but it’s virtually neck-and-neck.
“Even though they are virtually tied on riding points, Christine Elliott has a six-point lead in popular vote over Doug Ford,” Quito Maggi, president and CEO of Mainstreet Research, said in a release.
“With a strong majority of Caroline Mulroney’s second choice voters also expected to go to her, we believe that Christine Elliott is a slight favourite when the results are announced on Saturday.”
The survey, which was conducted between March 1 to 8 and polled 18,308 members of the Ontario PC Party, found that when calculating for points per riding, Elliott would get 35.2 per cent on the first ballot, and Ford would garner 34.9 per cent.
Caroline Mulroney would be at 17.3 per cent and Tanya Granic Allen would come in with 12.5 per cent.
But with the survey’s margin of error — which is plus or minus 0.7 per cent and is accurate 19 times out of 20 — the two front-runners are battling it out.
The survey found that in terms of votes among decided voters, Elliott is in the lead with 38.3 per cent, while Ford has 32.2 per cent support. Mulroney follows with 17.5 per cent and Granic Allen trails with 12 per cent support.
It looks even better for Ford when Granic Allen is taken out of the equation, as the survey found most of her votes would go to him.
“Writing off Doug Ford would be a mistake because he is in good shape coming into Saturday,” Maggi said.
“Over 2/3rds of Granic Allen’s second choice votes will go to Ford when she drops off the ballot and his vote is more efficient than Elliott’s.”
However, when it comes to defeating Kathleen Wynne, Conservatives feel Elliott is the better candidate for the job with 43.4 per cent saying Elliott, compared to 35.5 per cent who believe Ford could do it.
Conservatives are expected to pick their new leader on Saturday but that could change if an injunction, which is before the court on Friday, allows for a delay.
The survey was conducted using emails and automated telephone interviews (Smart IVR). Telephone respondents were interviewed on landlines and cellular phones.
Read the complete survey below: