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CityNews exclusive: How Horwath's blunders paved the way for Ford's election victory

Last Updated Jan 16, 2019 at 7:41 pm EST

He has been in power at Queen’s Park for over six months after winning a convincing majority. But shortly before the election, for about two weeks, Doug Ford’s team thought he was going to lose.

CityNews has obtained internal polling done by the Tory campaign, which pinpoints key moments that helped Doug Ford become premier.

On June 12, Ford was basking in election victory. But just over two weeks earlier, his team was worried.  Their numbers show that for about nine days, from May 23 to 31, Andrea Horwath was eclipsing him.

But a path to victory usually coincides with an opponents’ path to defeat. This last election was no exception.

The PC polling shows Horwath, who had been steadily climbing in the polls, made a series of decisions and one big fumble that led to her defeat.

On May 20, Horwath had a 24-per-cent approval rating compared to Doug Ford’s 31 per cent. This is the day she admitted she made a $1.4-billion math error in her platform.

She also defended NDP candidates with controversial views, like Laura Kaminker, who once said she refuses to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day.

On May 21, Horwath said she would close the Pickering nuclear power plant, angering voters in the 905.

And on May 22, she said she wouldn’t use back-to-work legislation to end strikes.

“What happened with Horwath, is the public looked and then she stumbled and then she fell,” pollster John Wright told CityNews.

“What’s fascinating is it was self-inflicted. Andrea Horwath was in the grasp of maybe a minority and then it was all self-inflicted.”

Despite that, Horwath was bouncing back, with many voters still unsure about Doug Ford as premier. Until May 28.

That’s when Ford introduced his bench strength, showing off his star candidates — in particular Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney. Ford’s internal polling shows that’s when his numbers started to go up, pushing him above Horwath.

“It was a really good manoeuvre,” Wright said. “It actually also gave Ford a chance to be with women — strong women — and that was also a turning point.”