Rumblings about a spring election in Ontario are growing louder, and it looks like northeastern Ontario could play a big role.

A new poll shows ridings around Sudbury could make or break the next government.

Less than a year ago, Kathleen Wynne won the Liberal leadership race to become Ontario’s first female premier.

A new Forum Research poll shows that if an election were to be held now, Wynne and the Liberal Party would win another minority government, but also states the Liberals would lose the popular vote to the Progressive Conservatives by seven per cent.

According to pollster Lorne Bozinoff, the poll is considered accurate, plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Bozinoff said that outcome is very possible, and for it to happen, the Liberals would have to win a lot of tight races.

“With things so tight and so close, they’re going to be looking very hard,” Bozinoff said.

“They’re going to look to the north as a place to win back seats or win more seats.”

He said the Liberals will likely target particular seats in northeastern Ontario.

“They’ll want to get back some of the seats they lost last time,” he said.

“They’ll want to win [Algoma] back and Timiskaming. There’s a seat in Sudbury they will need to hold on to, or else that will be out the door.”

Incumbent Sudbury Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci has announced he’s retiring and will not be running in the next election.

So far, the Liberals have not nominated a candidate for the Sudbury riding.

No strong relationship with the north

A professor of political science at Nipissing University said anyone hoping to win an upcoming election will have to improve his or her reputation in northeastern Ontario.

“I don’t think there’s a really strong relationship that’s been made with the north from any of the leaders,” David Tabachnick said.

Right now, all three major party leaders have approval ratings below 35 per cent in northern Ontario.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has a 16 per cent approval rate in the region, with a disapproval rate of 63 per cent.

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has the approval of 14 per cent in northern Ontario, with 57 per cent disapproving, and NDP leader Andrea Horwath has a 34 per cent approval rating, with a disapproval rate of 32 per cent.