Thursday, June 6, 2013

Turmoil in T.O., except in the polls

I don't always write about municipal politics, but when I do, I do it for The Globe and Mail. This time, at least. Check out the article on how Rob Ford's polling numbers have moved over the last few years. Or, more accurately, have not moved.

It is quite remarkable to me that a politician like Ford, who has not exactly had a smooth time in office, has such steady polling numbers. But he certainly is a polarizing figure, and perhaps that encourages the sort of stability that he has enjoyed since mid-2011. It makes me think that this interesting column by Andrew Steele has it about right. When a politician meets expectations, whether they are good or bad expectations, it is understandable that his or her poll numbers should hold constant.

As a resident of Ottawa, Ford's tenure stands in stark contrast to that of Mayor Jim Watson. His administration hasn't made a lot of noise and he works hard to cultivate his image as a (to steal a slogan from François Hollande) 'normal' mayor. He doesn't ruffle any feathers and is very present on social media. He will likely be re-elected for his efforts next year, in an election that will pale in comparison to what I expect will be a tumultuous contest in Toronto if Rob Ford is still mayor by then (which I suspect he will be).

And, as my column points out, Ford can't be under-estimated. He has a solid core of support. While the polls show that he would struggle to defeat Olivia Chow in a one-on-one vote, he won't have to. In all likelihood, a third or fourth 'major' candidate will be in the running and the polls show that if something like that were to occur, Chow's advantage over Ford would be reduced to a handful of points. With a race as close as that, anything could happen on the campaign trail.

It might be even interesting enough for me to break my own prohibition on municipal politics here on the site. An election in New Brunswick is scheduled for September 2014, but if there is no other major vote occurring in October I may just keep an eye on how things are looking in Toronto.