Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party continued to dominate mentions in the Twitterverse this week, but most of the debate has been overwhelmingly negative, a new poll shows.

An Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CTV News and CP24 between May 24 and May 30 shows that online political engagement in the Ontario election was at an all-time high last week, but that most of the discussion surrounding the province’s party leaders remains negative.

The PCs, led by Tim Hudak, continued to lead the social media debate, racking up 43 per cent of Twitter mentions during the fourth week of the election campaign. The party had garnered a similar percentage (44%) of mentions in week three, dropping down after their second week lead of 62 per cent, when Hudak had first mentioned his plan to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs.

During this past week, social media responded negatively to the PC party after several economists questioned Hudak’s Million Jobs math. Sixty-one per cent of mentions were negative, 33 per cent were neutral, and only six per cent were positive.

Meanwhile, the Liberals gained four percentage points in the last week, grabbing 38 per cent of mentions. Of these responses, 52 per cent were negative and 10 per cent were positive. Most of this can be attributed to the debate surrounding the MaRS real estate bailout and leader Kathleen Wynne’s promise to fiscally balance the budget in three years without cutting public service jobs.

The Andrea Horwath-led NDP continued to lose ground, claiming about one-fifth (19%) of the mentions – a drop of three points from last week’s results. However, the mentions are balanced between positive (24 %) and negative (21%) comments, with the majority being neutral.

Last week, an estimated 37 per cent of Ontarians were assumed to be talking politics and policies online. The new poll found that the average Canadian engages on Twitter 1.49 times when discussing a public issue, but engagement surrounding the three parties during the Ontario campaign seems to be much higher: 2.98 for NDP; 2.91 for Liberals; and 2.28 for PCs.

According to the analysis, this means that “Ontarians are engaging in the election more deeply (with more back and forth discussion) than they gave on past public issues.”

In total, 57 per cent of Ontarians say that they are engaging in the political discussion on social media. The poll also found that people who are active in political conversations online are much more likely to follow the election campaigns than those who aren’t engaged in politics online: 53 per cent, compared to 32 per cent.

The poll analyzed a total of 44,622 tweets this week, pulling 300 tweets per party to “code them for sentiment.”