And the Premiership goes to…

Ontario Election Update

Whose name will be stencilled on this door Thursday night?

So, it’s that time.

Ontario will choose its next government in 48 hours. Who will it be?

Kathleen Wynne’s remarkable: “Vote for me, I’m losing anyway,” gambit was a desperate Hail Mary attempt to make voters feel comfortable voting for Liberals. Many traditional Liberal supporters were disgusted with the Wynne government’s shenanigans and looking for renewal in their party. Many were likely to stay home – or to cast their vote for Andrea Horwath’s NDP which shares most of its policies, plus or minus a few minor details, with the Liberals.

Wynne is a brilliant campaigner and campaigns matter. But, she was far too damaged to make this election work for her. Liberals who see much to like in the NDP don’t like its incestuous relationship with organized labour. Wynne was smart to jump on the union-NDP link, but it was far too late. Her desperate “Concession, not concession” gambit has been done before: by British Columbia’s NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh in 2001. It didn’t work then, and it’s not going to work now.

Horwath’s NDP has done extremely well in this election. They’re essentially tied with the PC Party for popular support and have supplanted the Liberals as a second-choice party for most voters. But, it’s not enough. The NDP didn’t expect to do this well and their support is not strategically distributed across the province. In other words, they aren’t going to win as many seats as the PC Party will with the same popular support. The NDP’s lack of readiness shows up in the questionable quality of many of its candidates who are, simply put, not ready for prime time. I also question whether Horwath has the ground team required to get her supporters out to the polls, even in areas where they’re tipped to win handily.

Maclean’s foreshadowed a Doug Ford premiership with this cover… but, it did the same thing with a cover story about Mayor-to-be George Smitherman in 2009. So, who’s really going to win Thursday?

Doug Ford has had more than his share of missteps and fumbles, but in the latter half of the campaign, he’s been more focused and disciplined. This has helped him greatly. He is focused on meeting as many voters as possible – each of whom will tell 10 friends and family members about the experience and win their votes. He’s largely ignoring the mainstream media by not responding to their questions, and this pisses them off. But, it’s the right thing to do. The media is not his friend – it’s nobody’s friend. In many cases, though, it is actually his enemy. He’s right about that.

Who’s it gonna be?

La La Land!

Doug Ford will be Premier of Ontario Thursday night. He will lead a comfortable majority government (70 to 75 seats). The NDP will form the Official Opposition (40 to 45 seats) and the Liberal Party of Ontario will be reduced below official party status, but won’t be wiped out entirely. They’ll save two to four in Toronto and Ottawa. Mike Schreiner, much to my surprise, will win his seat in Guelph. The Trillium Party will lose the seat it has and disappear into oblivion.

Kathleen Wynne will resign as Leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario on election night. The Liberals will spend a long time searching for a new leader, using a lengthy leadership campaign to try and rebuild the party members and refill its indebted bank accounts. The NDP will hold a leadership review and turf Andrea Horvath – despite her close run campaign. She’s had enough chances already and the party will not be kind to her.

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