The first official week of the campaign is over. How did the parties do? Who’s doing what? And who made news? Keep reading below to find out.

Also check out some extremely interesting insights we gathered in a pre-writ poll from H+K Perspectives, our proprietary online panel of approximately 20,000 members nationally. H+K Strategies Canada maintains this panel in order to support our public engagement and campaigns work, along with offering valuable custom research. In our pre-writ poll we stayed away from the usual top-line horse race and focused on probing the underlying motivations of party support and the shape of the Ontario political landscape immediately prior to the election call. What we discovered was eye-opening to say the least. Want a taste?

According to H+K Perspectives, even though the Premier coined the phrase, Kathleen Wynne and Tim Hudak are neck and neck as the leaders best able to deliver on the ‘safe hands’ vision. Which is also the approach most overwhelmingly desired by voters. The further rub? The desire for a ‘safe hands’ approach is strongest amongst undecided voters. Which means the race is on for votes between the Liberals and the PCs.

Also, check out these findings on ‘right track’ vs ‘wrong track’.

Read on if you want to know more.

The Campaign Team

Ian Robertson, current Chief of Staff to Tim Hudak and Director of Strategy on the 2011 campaign is the campaign manager. Under him are a group of both provincial PCers and federal Ottawa Tories rounding out the campaign team in the war-room and on the road.

Stumbles

Holding two campaign events at companies that have received funding assistance from government. The PC Party is firmly against corporate welfare, favouring across-the-board tax cuts. Also, Peter Shurman, former PC MPP, predicts a Liberal minority and states his former leader cannot win a popularity contest.

Wins

Polls show the PCs are up – in some cases, way up (Check out what this would actually look like by visiting The Election Predictor). Tim Hudak sticking to a clear, simple message, One Million Jobs, and this message breaking through. Having Peter Shurman inadvertently reinforce his former leader’s message: this campaign is NOT a popularity contest.

What the Campaign Tour Will Look Like

Stay tuned for more interactive events like the one Thursday morning in Vaughan. The PC Leader discussed his One Million Jobs plan then engaged attendees in an interactive Q&A with the cameras rolling.

The Most Interesting Candidate

Lisa MacLeod as the attack dog on Kathleen Wynne on everything from gas plants to Stephen Harper. Special mention goes to MacLeod’s attendance at Kathleen Wynne’s campaign stop in former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s riding. Her tweet broadcasting that she was not being let in led to Liberals allowing entrance and providing her with water.

The Week In One Line

“Positive Plan for Jobs.”

H+K Perspectives Pre-Writ Poll

The election is essentially Tim Hudak’s to lose. In trade-off questions many of his policies are the most popular with voters.  And on the characteristic Ontarians are looking for most in their Premier, trustworthiness, Tim Hudak hits it out of the park.

The Campaign Team

Pat Sorbara, Campaign Director, was tasked with running the provincial Liberal campaign in Fall last year. She is a former chief of staff at Queen’s Park and is best known for helping run former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s 2011 campaign. She is joined by other notable federal and provincial Liberals including David Herle, Tim Murphy, Mel Wright and Bob Lopinski.

Stumbles

The Liberal record continues to haunt the party. Though the Premier had no gaffes, almost every news story or article refers to mismanagement whether gas plants, ORNGE or eHealth.

Wins

Peter Shurman, prominent former PC MPP, predicted a Liberal win, though a minority. Polls released this week also support a Liberal minority government.

What the Campaign Tour Will Look Like

There will be a lot of running! Building on the campaign ad released earlier this year, the Premier has made running a big part of her tour – whether with candidates, volunteers or even reporters!

The Most Interesting Candidate

Kathleen Wynne. She showed this week that she is not afraid of controversy by making a stop in Dalton McGuinty’s former riding of Ottawa South on the first official day of the campaign.

The Week In One Line

“Run, run as fast as you can.”

H+K Perspectives Pre-Writ Poll

Given the role scandals will play in this election, the Liberals can take solace in the fact that ‘ethics’ ranked dead last in a list of seven top priority issues for the election.  That said, when it WAS chosen as a top three issue, it placed 1st over a third of the time. The take-away: people that care about ethics care a lot. Also positive for the Premier: 69 per cent of respondents placed healthcare as one of their top three issues ranking it in either 1st or 2nd spot. The other parties aren’t talking about healthcare. The Liberals should start.

The Campaign Team

Gisele Yanez, Chief of Staff to Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath serves as Campaign Director. Yanez is joined by Eoin Callan who heads up the war room and Jen Hassum as head of communications. The central campaign team is a mix of experience and youthful energy.

Stumbles

Horwath’s assertion on CBC radio that the Liberals plan to privatize the Toronto Transit Commission fell flat and raised some columnists’ eyebrows. Also, getting off the campaign bus on Wednesday, Horwath tripped and lost a shoe which ruined her photo-of-the-day.

Wins

The attitudes of voters at the start of the campaign provide a lot of very good news for Horwath and the ONDP. According to the public domain polls out this week, voters want an election, want change, and give Horwath the highest approval ratings among any of the leaders.

What the Campaign Tour Will Look Like

Look for Horwath to spend time in growth ridings the ONDP is targeting for pick-up. That means lots of time in the 519 area code, the North and GTA ridings. Her tour events will focus on Horwath’s main message of affordability. Look for Horwath to spend a lot of time interacting with everyday Ontarians.

The Most Interesting Candidate

Gurpreet Dhillon in Brampton Springdale. Growth for the ONDP in the Peel region has been on a steady incline and in 2011 they picked up the Brampton seat of Bramalea-Gore-Malton with popular MPP Jagmeet Singh. With former Liberal cabinet minister Linda Jeffrey deciding to run for mayor instead of running for Wynne in Brampton Springdale, Dhillon is certainly one to watch in the GTA.

The Week In One Line

“Liberals don’t deserve to be re-elected – it’s time for change.”

H+K Perspectives Pre-Writ Poll

It’s hockey playoff season and the NDP is scoring a hat-trick:  1) Andrea Horwath is occupying the right space with her ‘it’s time for a change’ mantra. She is seen as the leader best able to ‘chart a new path’ for Ontario. 2) The NDP is the party that currently takes the most votes away from another party (the Liberals) based on how people voted in 2011. 3) NDP voters scored the lowest on ‘indifference’ to an Ontario election, a key trait in the effort to get out the vote on E-day.