New Toronto election poll: good news for Olivia Chow, meh news for Rob Ford, bad news for John Tory
This morning, the media is piling onto the latest Forum Research poll that shows mayor Rob Ford‘s approval rating slipping from 47 to 43 per cent. In terms of numbers that might actually affect the municipal election, though, the real story here lies in the results of the pollster’s mayoral fantasy scenarios.
In a showdown between just the three major declared candidates, Ford clocks in with a solid 35 per cent, as does Karen Stintz. David Soknacki brings up the rear with 16 per cent. Throw Olivia Chow into the mix, and the race looks utterly different. The downtown MP racks up an impressive 41 per cent, while Ford’s number remains basically unchanged at 34 per cent, with Stintz at 11, Soknacki at five, and nine per cent undecided.
Now, toss in John Tory. The breakdown shows that Ford still has a big chunk of unwavering support. Most of Tory’s votes would not be siphoned off the mayor, as many have predicted. Instead, his votes would come from the other candidates: Chow would win with 35 per cent, Ford would nab 30 per cent, Tory 22 per cent, Stintz six, Soknacki three. Five per cent of voters would be undecided. Perhaps the most interesting fantasy scenario is a Chow-free race that includes Tory: Ford wins with 33 per cent, while Tory languishes behind at 28. Stintz gets 17, Soknacki eight, with 14 per cent undecided.
This indicates that Tory is facing an uphill battle on the right. The former PC leader, who is widely expected to declare his candidacy this month, will need to have one major goal for the early months of the campaign: eat away at Ford’s base. Sure, 57 per cent say they will not vote for Ford, but 37 say they would. Any way you slice it, Ford has a solid 30-point bedrock that seems immovable. In a crowded field, that may be just enough to tip him back into the mayor’s office.
It’s worth noting that this poll was conducted last week, after Ford’s antics in Vancouver, but before the mayor’s double slight to the city’s LGBT community (a tantrum over the Pride flag flying at city hall, and his statement that he’d never attend Pride). The latter episodes may change some of the mayor’s approval numbers, but, as Edward Keenan observes on The Grid’s website, Ford’s dubious statements about Pride smack of election strategy, and could be the mayor’s way of shoring up that 30 per cent by playing on certain voters’ misgivings about the gay community.
The Forum Research poll tends to show how Torontonians “are feeling about what’s happened in the last week,” Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff told CTV news. “It’s a reminder that people tend to underestimate [Ford].”