Toronto’s mayoral contest now seems to be John Tory’s to lose. According to a public opinion poll by Nanos Research released on Tuesday, Tory has a 14-point lead with 42% supporting the former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party.
The poll has Rob Ford in second place at 28%, a statistical tie with Olivia Chow at 26%. A Forum Research poll done last week had Tory at 34 per cent, only three points ahead of Ford and 11 points ahead of Chow. A fourth candidate, David Soknacki, trailed the three high-profile front-runners in the Nanos poll with only 3% support.
Ford’s 28% support is amazingly high when considering his four-year tenure as mayor has been dogged by scandals, capped off by his admission that he had smoked crack cocaine in one of his self described “drunken stupors.”
Furthermore, there were other more recent public indiscretions such as an expletive-laden video in which he ranted on about Toronto’s police chief Bill Blair and there was a recording of Ford’s lewd comments concerning Karen Stintz, a former mayoral candidate.
Moreover, the mayor has been derided by local and international television hosts, ensuring his ignominy would become common knowledge among voters. Yet, here he is ahead of Olivia Chow in two of the most recent polls.
Chow’s performance must be a bitter pill for those so-called progressive voters who longed to see a return to the free-spending ways of David Miller and Barbara Hall.
Since she entered the race in March, Chow led comfortably in almost every poll through to July 2 when she was up nine points over John Tory in a Forum poll. But then her support began to slip without her committing an obvious gaffe that would explain her drop in the polls.
She was, of course, a false-flag candidate when she entered the contest last spring. That is to say, Chow seemed to downplay her NDP roots in favour of a fiscal conservative image. So perhaps voters saw through the pretense. Her campaign’s seeming lack of nitty–gritty details to back-up policy announcements may also concern many of the more savvy voters.
Recently, perhaps to shore up support on the left, Chow has returned somewhat to her socialist roots with her tax-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor promise to pay for city-run student nutrition programs and bus services by raising land-transfer tax for homes over $2-million.
Perhaps, though, Chow’s dramatic slide in the polls is, at least in part, a reflection of the anybody-but-Ford sentiment held by 37% of Nanos respondents who said they would vote for any candidate who can beat Ford. Tory’s momentum in the polls since July may have convinced some strategic voters that he’s the candidate most likely to beat the mayor on Oct. 27.
Whatever the reasons, I like this trend.
(The Nanos survey was commissioned for CTV and The Globe and Mail and was conducted between Aug. 27 and 31. It polled 1,000 Toronto residents and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)