Heading into the 2011 Provincial election tomorrow, my local polling company Preferences conducted an entrance poll ending October 1, 2011, selecting at random more than 200 respondents (margin of error 6.92%, 19 times out of 20) to not only understand local voter preferences, but also the reasons why people are not voting, why they are undecided, and why they are choosing a specific local candidate.
There have been a number of polls conducted by local media and political associations that have provided percentages on the potential outcome of the 2011 Provincial election, but this poll was conducted by interviewers via telephone as well as through an online survey as opposed to automated systems. We facilitated the collection of open-ended responses which, in our opinion, provides a deeper understanding of voter behaviour.
Several respondents openly stated their exhaustion with elections, but also mentioned that this election differs from the recent Federal election because the Provincial term expired, as opposed to a vote of non-confidence. This may explain why there are almost half the amount of "undecided" respondents compared to the 2011 Federal election entrance poll conducted by Preferences.
As for non-voters, the primary reasons for these respondents to not cast their ballot revolved around their perception of "mud-slinging" and "schoolyard bullying."
Aside from which local candidate is leading, our statistics demonstrate that Jeff Leal is more popular than Liberals/McGuinty (+4.3%); Conservatives/Hudak is more popular than Alan Wilson (+6%), especially among 45-year-old to 55-year-olds; and Dave Nickle is slightly more popular than his leader NDP/Horwath (+2.2%).
Greens maintained the same support for their leader as the local candidate Gary Beamish. The most revealing statistic is demonstrated by Conservative Party/Hudak supporters, who claimed they will be voting for Leal locally (3.9%).
Undecided voters for local candidates (13.5%) expressed that local platforms were "unclear" and "too vague" (even on mail-outs), and that they actually have to perform their own research. Another point of interest demonstrates that some undecided voters know clearly who they do not support as a local candidate, but are unsure of who they would like to support.
As for the reasons why respondents are supporting particular local candidates: Alan Wilson supporters expressed their dissatisfaction with McGuinty’s policies and Hudak's charismatic approach; Nickle supporters mentioned his "experience" in the community "as a teacher" and his recognizable name; and Jeff Leal supporters expressed he has "experience," is "dedicated" and claimed to "know of" or have met him personally.