LILLEY: Del Duca claims momentum, polls show a sputtering campaign

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Despite Steven Del Duca’s claim that there’s a surge of support for the Liberals, the polls tell a different story. With days to go in the campaign, Del Duca wants to give the impression that progressive voters are moving his way.

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The few voters paying attention to this sleepy election campaign aren’t buying it.

“There is more and more momentum amongst Ontario voters for the new plan that this new Ontario Liberal team of ours is putting forward,” Del Duca said.

Del Duca says he sees this momentum every day with every passing moment. I’m not seeing it, and neither are the polls.

The results of the latest survey of party support by Leger for Postmedia are absolutely devastating for Del Duca’s Liberals and for Andrea Horwath and the NDP. It shows Ford and his PC Party with a commanding 12-point lead provincially that becomes a 25-point lead in the seat rich suburbs around Toronto.

Among decided voters, 38% say they will vote for Doug Ford and his PC Party compared to 26% backing Steven Del Duca’s Liberal Party and 24% supporting Andrea Horwath’s NDP. Leger puts support for the Greens at 6%, New Blue at 3% and the Ontario Party at 2%.

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Ford’s PC’s lead or are tied for the lead in every region of the province outside of Toronto proper. Del Duca’s Liberals lead in the big city with 37% to Ford’s 29% and Horwath’s 24%.

The Leger poll is not an outlier, just one poll, Innovative, has put the Liberals at 30% in the last three weeks. That’s not a sign of momentum, it’s a sign that the Liberal campaign has stalled.

In fact, several seat count projections have estimated that the Liberals will still be the third party after the election with the NDP retaining second place and official opposition status. The election remains a race for second place with a week to go.

Make no mistake, the Liberals are expected to grow their seat count, but they may only go from being the mini-van party to the mini-bus party.

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That will, in itself, be a victory for Del Duca and his team. The last election saw the Liberals reduced to just 19% of the popular vote across the province and just 7 seats. This election will likely see them in the 20-30 seat range depending on how well they are able to motivate and mobilize their voters.

That would put the Liberals back into official opposition status, give them core funding from the legislature that they have been excluded from and allow them to continue rebuilding their party. That is, if they don’t need to find a new leader.

There is a very real possibility that Del Duca may not win his own seat of Vaughan-Woodbridge.

He was the MPP for the riding from 2012 through 2018 but lost in the Ford sweep of the area four years ago. He’s up against Michael Tibollo, Ford’s minister of mental health and addictions and according to some, like Ford, the race isn’t close.

After Del Duca campaigned in Ford’s riding recently, Ford returned the favour this past weekend going door to door with Tibollo.

“I was door knocking in Vaughan, and I have bad news for Mr. Del Duca, he’s losing that riding,” Ford said while campaigning Tuesday.

The Liberals dispute they’re losing in Vaughan-Woodbridge, but they also claim they have momentum when no one else can see it.

Election day could see a lot of seats change hands, maybe even control of the opposition but the government looks like it will remain the same.

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