Many Ontarians were surprised and confused by Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne’s announcement on Saturday that she won’t be premier after Thursday’s election.

“On June 7th voters will elect a new government. I don't know who voters will choose but I am pretty sure that it won't be me,” Wynne told reporters, after polls put her in a distant third place behind the Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats.

“After Thursday, I will no longer be Ontario's Premier. And I'm okay with that,” Wynne said. “Because, as I've said many times before -- it's not about me. It's about the people of this province. It's about their wellbeing. And their futures. It's about their jobs. Not my job.”

University of Toronto political scientist Chris Cochrane told CTV News Channel that he believes Wynne’s speech indicates a “clever” strategy that shows the Liberals are playing the long game.

Cochrane explains that the Liberals and New Democrats have offered “virtually identical” policies in recent years, which means many traditional Liberal supporters are “primed to vote NDP.”

Observers have suggested that Wynne is less popular than her party, so her admission that she won’t be premier will allow more Liberals to feel comfortable voting for the Liberal candidates that they do like, and that could allow them to elect more MPPs on Thursday.

“If regular rank-and-file Liberal supporters going in to cast their ballots realized that the Liberals had absolutely no hope to win, the natural vote for them might have been to park their vote with the NDP, which might have helped push the NDP up ahead of the (Progressive) Conservatives, to even win this election,” Cochrane says.

But the Liberals would rather see Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives win, Cochrane explains. That’s because an NDP victory would make the NDP a more credible “progressive alternative” in future elections. The NDP, after all, have only formed government once, in 1990.

“As far as I’m concerned this strategy is really good news for the (Progressive) Conservatives,” Cochrane adds. “It’s probably bad news for the New Democrats to the extent that it has an effect.”