Newspapers jump on sketchy mayoral race poll showing Rob Ford in the lead

Newspapers jump on sketchy mayoral race poll showing Rob Ford in the lead

Delicious pie: Ford gets the big piece

It’s been a while since a major voter intention poll was put out for Toronto’s mayoral race—the last one, confirming that George Smitherman and Rob Ford were in a statistical tie, came out two months ago—so we can understand that papers are desperate for any scrap of hard data. Indeed, when a new poll from a little-known U.S. firm came out yesterday, clamshell-watchers pounced.

The numbers are surprising: Ford leads at 37.6 per cent, Smitherman has just under at 28.7 per cent, followed by Joe Pantalone, Sarah Thomson, and Rocco Rossi. (Rossi’s worst performance in a poll so far, to our knowledge.) Compared to a previous Pollstra results, Ford is the only candidate who’s improved his numbers since June. The idea that Ford is the only candidate to benefit from the departure of Giorgio Mammoliti and re-re-departure of John Tory is questionable, to say the least.

So if cynics are ready to call shenanigans, they’re not alone: but the head of Pollstra told the CBC that the client is a non-partisan public research group, not the Ford campaign. Some papers seem to be reconsidering accepting the survey at face value: a Toronto Star story on the Web yesterday carried the headline “Ford surges in the polls, but faces a backlash” but is now titled “Miller slams ‘irresponsible’ Ford” and most of the polling references have been removed.

It’s progress of a sort: the last time the city’s reporters got this excited by a questionable poll was the fictional one that existed only in the fevered minds of rumour mongers. But even if this poll is an outlier whose numbers don’t make a lot of sense, at least it exists. We’ll be waiting for the next Nanos survey, ourselves.

Ford widens lead in Toronto mayoral race: poll [CBC News]
Do the numbers add up? [Global TV]
Ford gains momentum in new poll [Toronto Sun]