Rob Ford is handing out Ford Nation passports to the youth of Toronto

Rob Ford is handing out Ford Nation passports to the youth of Toronto

Rob-Ford-Youth-Vote (Images: Instagram)

Rob Ford won the 2010 election in much the same way Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency in 2008: he inspired a bunch a people who rarely vote to come out and cast a ballot for him. Now, it appears he’s doing the same thing. The 2014 municipal election is seven months away, and Ford is again building his coalition along unconventional lines. So far, he seems to be going after homophobes and young people.

The latter group has been getting attention from Ford this week. On Wednesday night, the mayor was out glad-handing at Gravity Soundbar with his campaign manager Doug Ford, taking pictures with partiers, handing out Ford Nation t-shirts and celebrating the birthday of his friend DJ Tony Monaco. The Instagramming, as usual, was out of control. NRG Lifestyle and Marketing Group, who promote clubs like Gravity and Fiction, went so far as to promise their votes to the mayor via a grammatically dubious tweet:

“It was a great bar, people treated us like gold,” Ford said yesterday morning during a 30-minute appearance on the youth-oriented dance music radio station Z103.5, where Monaco works. “[I] support the youth. I’m really out there, I can relate to the youth. We’re going to have a ton of youth out for the campaign.” He went on to advise listeners to campaign for him because it would “look good on their resumes.”

Doug took some time with reporters at city hall on Thursday to confirm that the youth vote is indeed in Ford’s sights. “The young folks out there absolutely love him, and we just want to get them engaged in the election, make sure they get out and vote and get them (to be) part of the campaign team too,” he said. “They know the mayor relates to them, understands them, and that’s a huge demographic so we just have to get them out to vote.”

Toronto’s youth vote is a double-edged sword. 62.9 per cent of people 18 to 21 turned out to vote in the 2010 municipal election. That’s higher than the one in three that voted federally in 2011, but still leaves 37.1 per cent unaccounted for—a large number of voters who can only remember Toronto as an amalgamated city, live largely in the suburbs and are more willing than their older counterparts to tolerate drug use. In other words, it’s fertile ground for a populist former crack smoker like Rob Ford.