Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chow maintains lead in Toronto race ahead of Ford, Tory

While the next election to be held in the country will be New Brunswick's in September, the mayoral election in Toronto scheduled for the end of October will be garnering more attention - as well as ballots. And the latest poll suggests that Olivia Chow continues to hold a lead over her two main rivals.

In the latest poll by Forum Research for the Toronto Star, currently the only polling game in town for the Toronto mayoralty, Chow held the lead with 34% support, down four points from Forum's last poll of June 6. Rob Ford jumped seven points to 27%, putting him narrowly ahead of John Tory, who was down four points to 24%.

David Soknacki was up one point to 6%, while Karen Stintz was down one point to just 3% support. Another 6% were undecided. Oddly, Forum is not releasing their numbers with the undecideds removed.

The shifts for Chow and Tory just straddle the margin of error, though Ford's are up quite a bit. However, it could very well just be a rebound from an abnormal result in Forum's last poll. If we look at the last four surveys from Forum, Ford has registered 27%, 24%, 20%, and now 27% again. Did Ford really hit rock bottom earlier this month, and has made up some of those losses? Or, more likely, was that 20% on the low side and Ford's support merely reverted to the mean?

Ford's approval certainly remains at an all-time low, at just 32%. It has been between 28% and 32% in the last three surveys, after previously having been in the mid-40s. The latest scandal, apparently, was the straw that broke the camel's crack, er, back.

If we look at how the numbers have been moving since candidates could officially register, things have been trending downwards for Ford. He was competitive with Tory and then Chow early on, but has since been on a relatively steady decline, the latest uptick notwithstanding. It was the first poll that ranked Ford second for quite some time.

Tory and Chow have been relatively stable, though Chow's numbers have been somewhat improved of late. Tory was leading before Chow entered the race, and her entry hurt him the most (along with Stintz, who went from respectable to fringe candidate). But Tory has rebounded a little, and the race is still more or less on between the three main candidates.

If Stintz and/or Soknacki drop out due to their low levels of support, it will not help Ford whatsoever. Forum suggests that of the nine points on the table between the two, Tory would get five of them and Chow would get three, with Ford getting just a single point (otherwise known as a rounding error). It suggests that if the race thins out, things will only get worse for Ford, not better.

Things would get a lot better for Tory if Ford drops out, as he would then be able to move to within two points of Chow.

Forum found that over 90% of Torontonians know who Chow and Tory are, compared to just 80% for Stintz and 63% for Soknacki. If we look at the approval ratings of the five candidates among all Torontonians, and not just those who know the candidates, which is what Forum reported, we get an idea of their respective ceilings.

The highest ceilings belong to Tory and Chow, at 56% and 55% approval, respectively. Next on the list is not Ford, but rather Stintz, who has 33% approval among all residents of the city. Ford is at just 32%, barely above Soknacki's 30%. It makes it very difficult to imagine Ford being able to get more than 1/3rd of the vote even under the best of circumstances. At this stage, re-election is simply not in the cards.

Or is it? Ford does trail Chow and Tory on approval and is behind Chow on voting intentions, but he does better on certain issues. He topped the list on being the best to handle the budget, at 31% to 27% for Tory and 26% for Chow, and was nearly tied with Chow on transit (27% to 26%, with Tory at 23%). These are the main issues, with 31% saying transit is the most important issue to them and keeping taxes low being the top issue for another 20% of Torontonians. But on having a vision for the city and, perhaps most importantly, on being able to leave the city in better shape after his or her term is over, Chow was well ahead of both Ford and Tory.

It appears that the race is still very much Chow's to lose, and she stands a better chance of avoiding defeat if Ford stays in the running. But it will be interesting to see if the recent uptick in Ford's support is an anomaly or not. For most candidates, being out of the spotlight for almost two months would normally be a bad thing. For Ford, it is his return that is unlikely to do him many favours.


  1. Good to see Ford hanging in there. Torontonians would be fools to get rid of that man. He has given Toronto billions of dollars of free publicity-you can't buy that type of advertising!

    Chow's numbers are interesting 37% in the circumstances is anemic. She much like Smitherman has been foisted upon the Toronto, she is not a populist candidate rather she was persuaded to run by a circle of the well connected political class. If either Ford or Tory drop out of the race the other will win. It is much like the political climate in BC-at the end of the day there are more free enterprise voters than social-democrat voters, roughly a 60-40 split in favour of the free enterprise vote.

    1. Except the poll you're commenting on has Chow beating Tory in a two way race, and polls dating all the way back to 2012 (pre crisis) have Chow beating Ford one on one, by very healthy margins. Stick to the facts, please, not idle speculation.

    2. Phillip,

      Forum, who commissioned the poll, have the race tied between Tory and Chow when Ford is dropped due to the margin of error. Given the likelihood that only 30% of eligible voters will cast a ballot I would suggest in a very purposeful way that Tory has a slight advantage over Chow in such a scenario.

      I am unsure by what tyrannical right or power gave or entrusted to you the ability to make writers and others "stick to the facts" and banish them from idle speculation. To me your last sentence seems idly speculative as it is completely unjustified by facts, known or natural law, societal convention(s) or even a prosaic treatise explaining the need to extinguish idle speculation.

      Does one still have the ability to question what are facts or the methodology and analysis of how facts are created or have such actions become heterodox and heretical to what ever state or religion we are now ruled by?

      It is a strange comment Phillip David especially since on the face of it it your writing does not appear to conform to what Forum wrote. Indeed, you have published some of what Forum wrote and purposefully ignored other important "facts" of the Forum poll.

    3. There is no way Rob Ford can beat Olivia Chow in a one on one contest. Ford has a low ceiling. Moreover, there is no BC-style anti-NDP/free enterprise coalition happening in Toronto.

      The majority of voters want Ford gone. If Ford remains competitive come October, I could see the anti-Ford vote going primarily to the candidate who is best position to beat the crack smoking incumbent.

    4. I disagree Big Jay,

      Ford's support is concentrated in the suburban areas where turnout is higher. Chow's support is concentrated among demographics that do not typically vote in great numbers.

      There is a free enterprise vote in Toronto which explains why Furious George lost so badly. People were tired of mayoral candidates being foisted upon them by the Ontario Liberal Party who assumed they knew better than Torontonians. Torontonians were tired of big spending mayors raising their taxes then delivering new services only to the inner core of Toronto.

    5. Bebe Dunelm you are wrong. In the last election turnout was higher downtown than in the suburbs. It is Ford's support that is heavily concentrated among demographics that do not typically vote in great numbers (in his case, he does extremely well with high school grads earning less than 40K, not so well with everyone else). There is no 'free enterprise' vote in Toronto or any other city that doesn't have political parties. Voters do not think that way. Bebe dunelm your comments are perplexing to me, do you read the polls you comment on?

    6. Why are you supporting Ford instead of that real conservative John Tory ??

    7. Bebe Dunelm,

      That is simply not true, that is not how politics in Toronto works.

      Turnout is usually higher in downtown ridings than the suburbs. However the suburban population is roughly three times more than the downtown core.

      The Rob Ford vote is not the "free enterprise" vote. Ford is a populist that was able to channel discontent in city hall, particularly due to the garbage strike of 2009.

      Ford won suburban votes with 60%+ of the vote that may go Liberal or NDP in the provincial or federal level. These include Scarborough Rouge River, Etobicoke North, York Centre and York South Weston.

      Rob Ford did exceptionally well in the immigrant vote. No ethnic strategy. Just simple populism and voter discontent for the Miller administration.

      George Smitherman was no leftist either. He was originally going to run against David Miller to the right. After Ford's popularity surged, Smitherman was seen as the anti-Ford vote in the downtown core. People such as David Miller and Jack Layton endorsed the hapless Joe Pantalone.

      To add, the Ontario Liberal Party under McGuinty was more popular in suburban Toronto than the downtown. It was only under the more left-leaning Wynne, that the Liberals made a breakthrough in downtown Toronto.

  2. As a political operator, I would consider the Ford support a mile wide and an inch deep. The moment those voters encounter any other candidate to their liking (be it Chow, Tory or any one else) they will jump ship in a second. At least that would be my working assumption if I were running Rob's campaign. Goal number one would be to try to solidify that support. Having said that, to me, there is no way Ford can win. It is just too high a mountain to climb. I've worked for underdog campaigns, but there has to be enough there to build up to a majority of the vote, and in the case of Ford I don't think it is there at all.

    1. PolStats,

      I don't necessarily disagree with your analysis but, it is somewhat surprising. 27% still support Ford according to Forum if anything I would expect these remaining supporters to be die-hards. perhaps not all of this 27% are diehards but, a 20% base is not outside the realm of possibilities. I do agree that goal number one should be solidifying support.

      Can Ford win? I don't know but, I think it is important to remember he (or any other candidate) does not need a majority of votes to do so only a plurality. Given the low turnout we can usually expect in municipal elections 34% may be enough to remain in office. Although I agree the odds do not appear to be in Rob Ford's favour I still think all three major candidates have all to play for.

  3. Weird place for this question, I know, but you mentioned it in your opening sentence - Will you be doing a seat-prediction model for New Brunswick? If so, when do you plan to get it up and running?

    1. Yes I will. I'll have it ready by the beginning of August, and probably launch it as soon as the newest poll is out.

  4. All we can hope for is the disappearance of Ford. The laughing stock of the world !

  5. I think the support Ford is getting now is a pretty solid mix of legit supporters along with a significant fraction who haven't been affected by his policies but like his antics. Building that number up any higher would require Ford present himself as a legit candidate. I don't think he's capable of doing that.

  6. Rob Ford's numbers have improved because he was out of town for over a month. At this rate he will be able to win this October if he remains in Muskoka, ha!

    Now very few politicians can hover around 30% of support after all this happened. This shows that Rob Ford is a likeable guy. He politician that took care of his constituency. He tapped into voter frustrations and the simple minded political outlook of many voters.

    Now that Ford is coming back, he has a lot of challenges. His campaign organization is a mess. People need to remember that he won in 2010 because he had a strong campaign team. He was the only candidate representing the right-wing of the spectrum. He won when the previous administration was unpopular and his opponents in the election were weak.

    Four years later, the mayor has a lot of baggage. The campaign team of the past have ditched him and took voter data with them. He has no more council allies. His campaign is run by his obnoxious brother.

    Ford is being challenged by two strong well organized candidates with Olivia Chow and John Tory. No way he could win. He knows this himself, since he rambled something about it during his drunken stupors.

  7. If I were in Toronto, I'd vote for Ford. He's the best mayor any large Canadian city has had in some time.

  8. Globe And Mail today

    Tory poll has Rob Ford sitting in third place ahead of election

    1. I guess the Tory campaign will eventually shift the narrative to "a vote for Ford is a vote for Chow".

    2. Whereas "a vote for Tory is a vote for Ford" would be far more accurate !

    3. There are people who would vote Ford or Chow, but not Tory. (populists)

      There are people who would vote Ford or Tory, but not Chow. (right-leaning)

      There are people who would vote Chow or Tory, but not Ford. (sane)

  9. I think Rob Ford's friends in the Bloods would take issue with you using blue as his colour. Shouldn't it be red?

  10. Well, at least we know minimum number of people we'd clinically call "stupid imbeciles" runs at around 27% in Toronto. Some of my friends from out side Toronto would say it's much higher, but at least we have a base number now.

  11. Having lived in the GTA during the late Lastman, early Miller years I voted for John Tory in the first Miller election.

    If I lived there now I would vote for him again in a heartbeat. In my mind Ford has disgraced himself the office of mayor, and Toronto as a city too many times to be trusted with running the city. The man obviously needs help, and to his credit seems to be getting it. It's just too little to late IMHO.

    That being said I can certainly understand why some find Ford so appealing. Having lived in the GTA through two garbage strikes and year after year of large deficits Ford seems highly competent by comparison.

    I certainly would never claim that Ford supporters have a clinical mental capacity of 5 to 7 year olds. I'm all for some hyperbole in good fun, but that kind of insult is unnecessary, pejorative, and risible.

    Even if the comment wasn't directly aimed at Ira (as he doesn't live in the GTA) it might as well have been. Having seen something of the quality of both Iras and 11matt11s comments I have a good idea who is the more thoughtful, mature, and intelligent person.

    Ira is fairly far right of me, but he deserves much more respect than given here as he always posts honestly and thoughtfully... unlike some others I could mention.

    1. AJR I totally agree re Ford. Virtually an International disgrace!! Toronto really doesn't need that !! Tory or Chow will be far better.


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