Before the Ontario election campaign began in earnest, the Progressive Conservatives enjoyed a double digit lead, many basically declared the Liberals dead and that was that. Trouble was, we still actually had to go through the motions of a pesky campaign, and lo and behold things have changed already, in dramatic fashion, in a way few would have predicted. The once insurmountable Progressive Conservative lead has dramatically evaporated, from romp to panic, polls now show a dead heat at best, a Liberal lead at worst.
Yesterday, two more polls from Nanos and Ipsos, both tell a similar story, reinforcing other results as well. One huge caution, don't make the same mistake made prior, these numbers are fluid and one misstep here, a gaffe there, it could move back quite easily. It really does look like the coming debate will be the key moment, as it usually the case, no revelation there. Perhaps a bit more pointed this time, if only because Hudak desperately needs a strong performance to offset this erosion, should he look ordinary, things will cement themselves.
The real wildcard continues to be the NDP. Polls show historically strong numbers to date, but they also show a very distinct third place position. When push comes to shove, should the NDP not look a realistic option, we could see some movement to the Liberals. The Liberal strategy from here on out has to see if there is any opportunity to poach a few points off the NDP, that will be key. I also recognize the NDP strategy, so no assuming anything here or typical Liberal mindset, but there is always risk of decline when you're trailing.
There are so many scenarios now in play, it's silly to predict an outcome. However, certain things are clear: namely the Hudak campaign has to be feeling quite nervous, having watched a massive lead evaporate so quickly. Will the PC's respond with calm confidence or does panic mode start to set in as they are put on the defensive? The PC's ads clearly aren't working, their leader is looking every bit a DUD, they've created bizarre wedge issues, media coverage has been dismissive, it actually looks to be unravelling quickly.
On the other hand, if someone had told Liberals two months ago that at worst they would be tied, at best starting to run away, after a week of the election campaign, it would have been a beyond wildest dreams proposition. And yet, here we are, with much campaign to go.... So far, so good.