A couple theories:
It was overwhelmed by the election
Holding the referendum at the same time as the provincial election meant that it was overshadowed from the get-go. Most news coverage over the course of the election had a package on what each leader did on that day and then maybe – maybe – there would be a little bit tacked on about there being a referendum. We were too busy worrying about Tory’s faith-based schools to really have a conversation about this.
It could have been explained much better
Most of the official government material was scrupulously neutral as well as vague. There were big full page ads saying things like “Make sure you understand your choice” or something like that. Of course it didn’t explain very much what the choice was. I wonder how many people thought that it was just a reminder about there being a general election. When they proposed electoral reform in BC, every household got a copy of the report. We got a few vague full-page ads.
Yes the pro-MMP forces blogged up a fury, yes we killed in the Facebook group race, but even in this new media age, more people probably based their decision on the Toronto Star’s fearmongering editorials. The MSM still dominates political debate for most people.
Ontario’s Political Culture
It seems that we are inherently cautious in this province. Most of the major political protest movements (CCF/NDP, Social Credit, The Progressive Party, Reform) came out of the West. We elected the Progressive Conservatives continuously for some 40 years. The first province to give the vote to women was Manitoba. When some form of PR breaks through in Canada, my prediction is that it will take place in the West.