Friday, September 12, 2014

Doug replaces Rob - what now?

A quick analysis on the news out of Toronto this afternoon. With Rob Ford out of the race to be Toronto's mayor due to health problems, the campaign has changed radically. But with Doug Ford taking his place, and undoubtedly set to run a campaign based on the premise that a vote for Doug Ford is a vote for Rob Ford, will the support levels so far recorded in the race change dramatically as well?

There are two competing factors at play. The first is that Doug Ford is not his brother. Rob Ford has managed to maintain a degree of sympathy with a segment of the population despite all of the issues of the last year. Doug Ford, on the other hand, has no such well of sympathy. 

There have not been many polls conducted related to the possibility of a Doug Ford candidacy. But a few polls have asked about him. The most recent survey, a poll conducted by Forum Research in May, put Doug Ford at only 20% if he replaced his brother. This was at a time when Rob Ford was polling at 24%.

Rob Ford's approval rating at the time was 32%, one of the lowest levels he has ever recorded. Doug Ford's approval rating in the same poll was 30%. 

In a poll conducted by Forum in November 2013, Doug Ford was similarly polling below his brother.

And in an Ipsos Reid poll from the same month, 34% of respondents said they trusted Rob Ford whereas only 30% said the same about Doug Ford. To be fair, however, Doug Ford's approval rating in that poll was two points higher than Rob's (42% to 40%).

So this suggests that we might expect, all things being equal, that Doug Ford would poll below his brother's level of support, which is currently averaging 29%.

The second factor at play, however, is that Doug Ford will not be replacing his brother in a vacuum. Though Rob Ford has withdrawn from the mayoral race, he has put his name on the ballot to be a councilor. Doug's candidacy, then, is almost as a proxy for Rob. This is the Ford family running for the job, rather than Doug alone. Some voters who liked Rob but not his brother may still vote for Doug Ford because of this. Add the extra sympathy that Rob Ford's health problems might give him, and it has the potential to boost the kind of numbers Doug Ford would have had on his own.

So perhaps the next set of polls will show little difference, with Doug merely being slotted in for Rob. But there are seven weeks left to go in the campaign, and Doug is not the campaigner his brother is and has had testy exchanges with the media in the past. He will have debates to attend as well. If he manages to maintain Rob Ford's support out of sympathy at first, he may have difficulty holding on to it through to October 27.

22 comments:

  1. It's a new race. Presumably Doug will keep most of Rob's 28% but the "need" for Tory has receded a good deal. I would expect the race to tighten.

    This may help Chow as she was/ is in a rut that only a major shake-up could solve. However, I can't see many RF voters going over to Chow and I don't think she is charismatic enough to take advantage of the situation. However, she may take some loose Tory supporters.

    A new tightening race but, a race that is still Tory's to lose.

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  2. Eric, both your scenarios seem plausible. Doug doing about the same as Rob by getting the sympathy vote and riding off Rob's brand or Doug performing worse than Rob because he is not as personable as him.

    I don't think this is much of a game changer as the media is making it out to be. Rob was heading for a landslide defeat either way.

    My prediction going forward is that Tory will become the next mayor. With the Rob Ford threat gone, Chow will pick up some of her lost support but not enough to beat Tory. Doug Ford will be third, ending up with less than 20% of the vote.

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  3. This is the worst subplot in Game of Thrones ever....

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  4. I'm not sure the public is going to buy into this very obvious "grab for power" ??

    Plus Rob still running for Councillor makes the cynicism just that much more obvious.

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    1. The notion that people will buy that RF doesn't have enough energy to run for Mayor, but does have enough to run for councillor is truly cynical.

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    2. Sorry chim but again you are wrong! The Fords are toast !!

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    3. The Fords have enough money and support that they'll be back in one form or another, Peter. I don't think most people expect Rob Ford to actively campaign for a council seat if he's battling a tumour but, this is hardly a handicap as the good member for Berthier--Maskinongé proved in 2011 while she actively vacationed during the campaign. ford will easily be the next councillor for ward 2.

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    4. The sooner we are rid of the farcical Fords the better !!

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    5. Peter, I think you misunderstood me. I was saying that I thought the Fords were cynical in claiming that Rob was too sick to run for mayor, but apparently running for councillor no challenge for someone fighting a potentially life-threatening illness. Rob Ford in his best health (*cough*) still couldn't manage to make it to work on time or for a full workday, why should anyone think he could fight an election campaign for councillor while dealing with cancer? The implication from the Fords is that the job of councillor needn't be taken seriously, which is outrageous.

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  5. Well now it seems like it's a battle of the pollsters. Forum has 41, 32, 19 (Tory/Ford/Chow) while a firm called Mainstreet has the race at 51, 30, 18 (Tory/Chow/Ford). Both polls conducted on the same day! So while it seems Tory is definitely the frontrunner it's really hard to tell whether Ford or Chow is in second place. Big Jay could be correct, that despite what the media is trying to sell, this isn't a competitive race at all. It's practically over.

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    1. Here is the Main Street poll in case anyone is looking:
      http://mainstreetzone.mainstreettechno.netdna-cdn.com/mainstreet/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Mainstreet-Toronto-Mayoral-and-Ward-2-September-13.pdf

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  6. Go with either pollster or an average of both and it is still a clear Tory win !!

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  7. Well R Ford's departure saves me the anxiety of another term of American wisecracks. And doug ford is fairly respectable, and he had to speak for himself and for Rob because Rob couldn't stop flinging his feces. However, I wouldn't like to see a continuation of a Ford dynasty in Toronto, I'd vote for Chow.


    And Éric, will do be doing any posts about the Newfoundland&Labrador PC leadership convention, since they'll be choosing the next premier for at least a little while, today. (Also a shout out is in order for Tom Marshall, as the man who doesn't want to be premier and only served in Interim for several months just knocked down 85% of our public debt of around $10 billion in unfunded pension liabities. Liberal governments nor even the great Danny were able to tackle it over the last 20 years, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on that for the future of the NL PC party

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    1. Unfunded liabilities are not debt they are unfunded future commitments.

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    2. After a cursory reading of the pension agreement in Newfoundland it appears Marshall resolved the unfunded liabilities problem by promising $2.4 billion to the pension funds over 30 years and increasing premiums. It really is a good news story and demonstrates the benefits of Government and unions working together. Now if only teachers in BC and the Government could work together in a similar fashion.

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  8. I wonder if anyone can explain why the Forum poll showing Doug Ford at 34 per cent was sidely reported, while the Mainstreet poll showing Doug at 16 per cent has rated barely a mention in the press?

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    1. For all its faults, Forum is a well-known pollster with a track record. Mainstreet is not.

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    2. One interesting thing in that Mainstream poll is the breakdown by age and gender. Interesting !

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  9. cbc.ca

    "Note: With this column Éric Grenier, founder of threehundredeight.com, makes his debut as a regular contributor to CBC News."

    Well done Eric !!

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  10. New Ipsos pollL Tory 43%, Chow and Ford statistically tied at 29 and 28. So can Tory hold the lead for the next 41 days? Chow and Ford will be attacking him daily. Should be interesting.

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  11. National Post Sept. 17

    "John Tory takes commanding 14% lead in Toronto mayoral race as Chow and Doug Ford battle for second: poll"

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  12. Ipsos-Reid poll by the way so reasonably reliable.

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