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Why Dalton McGuinty is smiling: Poll has Liberals with 11-point lead

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty test drives a Toyota RAV4 vehicle at the Woodstock, Ont., assembly plant test-track on Sept. 8, 2011.

Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press

Is Dalton McGuinty about to make it a hat trick?

A new poll by Harris/Decima suggests that the Ontario Liberal Leader is headed for a third straight term on Oct. 6, with an 11-point lead over Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

The gap between the two front runners has narrowed in recent weeks in the run-up to the official launch of the provincial election campaign. But this is the first poll where Mr. McGuinty is the clear front runner.

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"There's always some possibility that you get a rogue poll," pollster Bruce Anderson said on Thursday evening. "We haven't seen this kind of reversal of fortune before now."

Asked which party they would vote for in the upcoming election, 40 per cent of those surveyed named the Liberals, 29 per cent chose the Tories and 24 per cent chose the New Democrats.

The telephone survey included a relatively small sample size of 650 and was conducted between Aug. 26 and Sept. 6. However, Mr. Anderson said answers to the questions were consistent over the nearly two-week period, suggesting, he said, that voters may not be happy with some of the things the governing Liberals have done, but they are not upset enough to want a Conservative government.

While the Harris/Decima poll stands out, other surveys also point to a three-way race, just as the campaign buses hit the road. Mr. McGuinty, who is up against two rookie opposition leaders, is trying to capitalize on the same sort of nervousness about a fragile economy that helped win Prime Minister Stephen Harper a majority government this past spring.

A recent poll by Nanos Research, conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV, shows a strong degree of volatility among the electorate. The Tories enjoyed 35.4 per cent of the popular support in the Nanos poll, giving them a narrow lead over the Liberals, with 31.9 per cent support. The New Democrats surged to their highest level in recent memory with 22.8 per cent.

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About the Author

Karen Howlett is a national reporter based in Toronto. She returned to the newsroom in 2013 after covering Ontario politics at The Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau for seven years. Prior to that, she worked in the paper’s Vancouver bureau and in The Report on Business, where she covered a variety of beats, including financial services and securities regulation. More

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