What Issues Are Driving The Vote?

In every election campaign, there are made-for-media moments, barbs traded between party leaders and daily updates from the campaign trail. But when it comes down to actual Ontario voters, we wanted to understand the priority issues when it comes to how voters decide which party to support.

So we set out to find out what are the issues Ontarians are prioritizing in a recent H+K research study.

The top issue for all voters is healthcare, chosen by 87% of all respondents. If you think you are hearing a lot about health care it is because Ontarians care deeply about this issue. Before casting a ballot on election day, how each party plans to improve and fund healthcare in the province could be a key decision factor.

Beyond healthcare, the next top two issues across all Ontarians was the economy (84%) and jobs (79%). Ontarians who plan to vote for the Ontario Conservative Party also look at electricity prices (83%) as a key priority for the next government.

There are quite a few issues that are virtual ties when it comes to priorities of those planning to vote Liberal and NDP – poverty (68%) and education (74% of those planning to vote Liberal and 71% of those planning to vote NDP).

Child care, an issue for which each party has put forward a solution, is a key priority for just 43% of voters (50% of those planning to vote Liberal, 35% of those planning to vote Conservative and 46% of those planning to vote NDP).

The real discrepancies in issue priorities is between those planning to vote Conservative and the rest of voters. Notably climate change is a priority issue for 61% of those planning to vote Liberal and 63% of planning to vote NDP, while it is only a priority issue for 28% of those planning to vote Conservative. On that same note, housing affordability is a priority issue for 72% of those planning to vote Liberal and 71% of those planning to vote NDP, while only a priority for 54% of those planning to vote Conservative.

However, it is interesting to note that while housing affordability is not high on the priority list for those planning to vote Conservative, the issue of “affordability” around the cost of living and household costs represents an issue that these Ontarians believe were created by the current Ontario Liberal government actions. Eighty-five per cent of those planning to vote Conservative agree that “the policies of the Ontario Government over the past four years has made life less affordable for residents of Ontario”, this is 15 percentage points higher than those planning to vote NDP. For Conservatives, “affordability” is primarily about utility costs as indicated by the 83% selecting it as an important issue in deciding which party to support.

When Election Day rolls around, we’ll see which party tackled these key issues in a way that was most appealing to Ontario voters. Until then, it will be interesting for all election campaign watchers to see how the parties prioritize each issue.

The H+K research study was fielded May 11-15, 2018 with n=1500 Ontarians participating. The survey made use of our Perspectives+ panel, a research offering we frequently use with our clients to produce robust public opinion insights to inform strategic communications and public affairs approaches.

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