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.

9 comments:

  1. The mayoralty race may well end up being close, but i will make one prediction right now. Olivia Chow will be the only serious candidate from the "left". There is zero chance that Adam Vaughan or any other progressive on council would give up their council seat to run if she was in the race. As far as the centre-left is concerned, she is the "elephant in the room". What is more likely is that a third candidate will enter the race from the centre-right such as Karen Stintz or John Tory and that person would try to attract votes from patrician red Tories and blue Grits who basically like Ford's policies but just find him uncouth. Someone like that would likely cut into both Chow and Ford's support initially, but as the contest polarized, the "anyone but Ford" vote would coalesce around Chow and I suspect that any 3rd candidate would either drop out before election day or would stay in and see their support erode to Pantalone 2010 or Hall 2003 levels (11% and 9% respectively).

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  2. Just a reminder for last election. Even though all the media and polls tried hard to alienate Mr. Ford, he won the election with a land slide. One thing the poller and media got it wrong is that they tried to put the subjective wills above the objective voters. I live in a neighborhood in Scarborough, and I very certain that Mr. Ford will still win more than 80% of voters in our community even though he cannot build the subway for us. The people is knowledgeable enough to know who work for them. I really cannot wait to prove to you Olivia Chow is nothing to many people live here, even though all the media tried to help her. Just look at the result from B.C. You'd better to be objective with your polling.

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    1. EKOS, which was the last pollster in the field in 2010, was very close to the final result. There seems to be some sort of myth that the polls missed the election in Toronto, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

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    2. 'You'd better... be objective with your polling'

      Éric does not do the polling.

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  3. In fact several polls in TO had Ford winning by a bigger margin than he actually ended up winning by.

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  4. I'm in agreement with DL that Olivia Chow will be the only major candidate from the centre-left or left. I'm a constituent of both Chow and Vaughan, and I am quite sure that Vaughan knows that if he ran a) he would not win, and b) he could very well cause enough of a vote split to re-elect Ford. What I think is more likely is that a centre-right candidate emerges and hoovers up the sensible conservative vote, while Ford is left with his 35% or so that make up Ford Nation.

    The other thing that may be going on here is that the scandals are not hurting Ford's base, but they are placing a harder ceiling on his support than was the case previous.

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    1. Your last point (in particular) is exactly correct.

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  5. I say break the prohibition for Toronto.

    Toronto has 4 times the population of New Brunswick after all.

    It's bigger than most provinces.

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  6. How likely is it that Olivia Chow will run? Same with John Tory?
    http://wildwestcoastpolitics.blogspot.ca/

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