Christine Elliott won more votes, but Doug Ford won where it mattered

Results obtained by CBC News show how Doug Ford won the Ontario PC leadership on Saturday — and how the rules of the race allowed him to win despite Christine Elliott's greater support.

Ontario PC leadership results show that Doug Ford used his big GTA support to push him over the top

Doug Ford won the Ontario PC leadership race because he had more points — not votes — than Christine Elliott. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The final ballot results of the Ontario PC leadership race show that Doug Ford won on points thanks to strong performances in the Greater Toronto Area, but that Christine Elliott won both the popular vote and the narrow majority of Ontario's 124 ridings.

The Ontario PCs announced in a hastily organized late night news conference on Saturday — after their leadership event ended without a result — that Ford won the party's leadership with 50.6 per cent of electoral votes. Elliott, with 49.4 per cent of electoral votes, came up short for the third time after two previous failed PC leadership bids.

But according to a copy of the final ballot results obtained by CBC News, Elliott had more individual members behind her by the final ballot.

Following the elimination of Tanya Granic Allen and Caroline Mulroney after the first and second rounds of the preferential ballot, Elliott had 32,202 votes to 30,041 votes for Ford, giving her an edge in the popular vote of 51.7 per cent to 48.3 per cent for Ford.

Elliott also had more votes in 64 ridings, with Ford having the edge in the other 60.

But the PC leadership was not decided by either the popular vote or the number of ridings supporting a candidate. Instead, it came down to points (what the party called electoral votes).

Winning where it counts

Each riding in the province was worth 100 points, except for three in Northern Ontario where fewer than 100 members cast a ballot. Candidates were awarded points equal to their share of the vote in each riding.

For example, Ford won 407 of the 471 votes cast in Etobicoke North, the riding in which he will run in the June provincial election, giving him 86.4 per cent of the vote. Those 407 votes were worth 86.4 points to him.

In Durham, however, the 433 votes Ford won gave him just 36.7 per cent of 1,181 ballots cast in the riding. To Ford, those 433 were worth 36.7 points while the 407 votes in Etobicoke North were worth more than twice as much.

Ford was able to win the leadership because he had better numbers in the ridings he won than Elliott did in the ones she won. In only six ridings — all in Toronto, except in the Whitby seat Elliott used to represent — did Elliott win more than 70 per cent of the vote on the last round. Ford did that in 11 (also all in the GTA).

Nevertheless, Elliott's popular vote victory was repeated in every region of the province except the GTA-Hamilton-Niagara region. She won 56 per cent of the vote in Eastern Ontario, 53 per cent in both Toronto and Northern Ontario, and 51 per cent in Southwestern Ontario.

Ford's advantage in the GTA-Hamilton-Niagara region was small, with 50.3 per cent of the vote. But he won 58 per cent of the vote in Mississauga (giving him 61 per cent of the points), 63 per cent of the vote in Etobicoke (66 per cent of the points), and 65 per cent in Scarborough (66 per cent of the points).

Elliott only beat Ford in points in Eastern and Northern Ontario, the two regions of the province with the fewest seats. And her edge was relatively modest. Her best performance was the 56 per cent of points she won in Eastern Ontario.

Ford won not because more members supported him or because he could win in more parts of the province. He won because he was more popular in his best regions of Ontario than Elliott was in hers.

Granic Allen helps deliver Ford victory

The ballot-by-ballot results show that Granic Allen's performance in the leadership race was a key factor in Ford's victory — and that not enough of Mulroney's supporters went to Elliott to put her over the top.

On the first ballot, Granic Allen finished last with 15.3 per cent of points, with Mulroney at 17.2 per cent, Ford at 33.4 per cent and Elliott at 34.1 per cent.

Granic Allen had the most votes in two ridings — both in the Windsor area — while Mulroney had the most support in nine seats in different parts of the province. The other 113 ridings were divided between Ford and Elliott.

When Granic Allen was eliminated, about 83 per cent of her points were re-distributed to Ford, allowing him to move ahead of Elliott on the second ballot with 46.1 per cent of points to 35.8 per cent for Elliott. Only 11 per cent of her points went to Elliott and just six per cent to Mulroney.

Mulroney's elimination after the second ballot — she was ahead in only four ridings by then — saw 75 per cent of her points going to Elliott, with the remaining 25 per cent going to Ford. That was just what Ford needed to win. Had Elliott won about 78 per cent of Mulroney's supporters, that would have been enough for her.

Could misallocated ballots have made the difference?

Initially, Elliott's campaign did not concede the race, suggesting that 1,300 ballots were allocated to the wrong ridings. That was theoretically enough to change the outcome as, for example, the 151 votes cast in the three Northern Ontario ridings of Timmins, Kiiwetinoong and Mushkegowuk–James Bay were worth more than the 76.5 points Elliott needed to win.

But it all depended on where these allegedly misallocated votes originated. Each of the 4,625 votes cast in Don Valley West, Durham, Oakville and Whitby were worth less than 0.1 points.

On Sunday, however, Elliott conceded defeat to Ford after meeting with the newly-minted Ontario PC leader. According to her campaign, they had a good case — but were not willing to take it before the courts, the only recourse that remained to them.

The dispute over these misallocated ballots appears to be over. But there is also no disputing that the rules of the race did not award the leadership to whoever won the most votes or the most ridings. It is an inconvenient fact for Elliott, but on the only measure that actually counted, Ford won.


  • Caroline Mulroney had the most votes in nine ridings on the first ballot and four on the second, not six and two, respectively, as was originally stated.
    Mar 12, 2018 3:39 PM ET


Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.