Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is the perceived winner of Tuesday night’s televised Ontario leaders debate, according to Vote Compass respondents who said they watched the 90-minute face-off.

Users of CBC's online voter engagement application were asked, "From what you saw, heard or read about the televised leaders debate, who do you think won?"

Hudak was the choice of 37 per cent of all Vote Compass respondents who said they had watched the debate.

“Hudak was clearly the most relaxed of the three. He seemed to really enjoy the debate. He was well-prepared and, most importantly, he began on message and stayed on message,” CBC’s provincial affairs specialist Robert Fisher wrote in his post-debate analysis.


Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, left, and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne debate Tuesday. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath fared the worst among the three major party leaders. More respondents replied "Don't know" (18 per cent) than chose Horwath (16 per cent) as the winner.

“(Horwath) delivered her lines well. She appeared to have re-gained the confidence she had in the 2011 debate, her first as party leader, though it must be said she started strong and sagged a bit as the debate progressed,” Fisher wrote. “But that and her well-scripted, well-delivered lines are unlikely to be game changers in this election, though she may have lifted some sagging NDP spirits.”

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, who struggled early, was viewed as the winner by 28 per cent of respondents who said they tuned in.

“Wynne did finally re-gain her form, relaxing about halfway through the 90-minute debate — though the damage was done in that first round,” Fisher wrote. “Will it be fatal? The simple answer is no.”

Chart: From what you saw, heard or read about the televised leaders debate, who do you think won? (Mobile users can view the chart here)

Of all the party supporters, it was the NDP who least favoured their own leader. Sixty-two per cent of those who identified themselves as NDP and watched the show felt Horwath won, while 67 per cent of Liberal supporters who watched viewed Wynne as the winner and 89 per cent of PC supporters gave the win to Hudak.

Those aligned with the PCs who watched the debate were the most polarized, with virtually no PC supporters picking Wynne as the winner while just four per cent felt Horwath won.

Men who tuned in perceived Hudak as the winner while women thought it was Wynne. Forty-five per cent of men felt the PC leader won while 33 per cent of women though it was Wynne. Men and women were equally split at 16 per cent each in viewing Horwath as the winner.

The Vote Compass findings are based on 4,456 respondents who said they watched the debate and used Vote Compass between June 3 and June 5, 2014. Though Vote Compass is not a poll, respondent data are weighted using the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada to approximate a representative sample of the Ontario population.

Developed by a team of political scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is an educational tool offered exclusively in Canada for CBC News.