Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wide Tory lead confirmed in new Toronto poll

The polls are starting to converge in the Toronto mayoral race, as the Toronto Star published the latest numbers from Forum Research this morning. The results of the poll are virtually identical to the last set of numbers that were released by Nanos Research. And that means John Tory's comfortable lead over Rob Ford and Olivia Chow looks confirmed.

The poll, conducted the day before David Soknacki's withdrawal from the race, gave Tory 40% support among all respondents, a gain of six points over Forum's previous poll of August 25-26. Ford was down three points to 28%, while Chow was down two points to 21%. Soknacki scored 6% in this his final poll of the campaign.

If we remove the undecideds, Tory's lead would increase to 13 points, with 42% to 29% for Ford and 22% for Chow.

This is the strongest result that Tory has managed in any Forum poll, and the lowest number we have seen from Chow. But for Ford, who appeared to be potentially making a comeback in Forum's last poll, this is just a return to the numbers he was putting up between the end of June and early August. In the end, his surge was indeed a fluke.

One thing noted by the Star was Chow's drop of 10 points in Scarborough, where she has just 9% support. That seems like an unusual and unlikely result, but at the same time she gained 11 points in Etobicoke-York, where she is now apparently almost as competitive as she is downtown. So the two oddities probably cancel each other out.

If we iron out the Nanos poll from early July, the trends have been pretty clear and consistent. Chow has been dropping across the board since mid-June, and it has been Tory who has benefited. Ford's numbers appear to have rebounded slightly (he seems more likely to end up closer to 30% than the 20% that seemed probable in the spring) but it is Tory who has taken command of the race.

Will Soknacki's departure change much? He wasn't taking many votes off the table. At 6% in this poll, he was polling as high as he ever has.

Forum did ask how people would vote if Soknacki was off the ballot. The overall results were little different, with Tory being boosted to 41%, Ford to 30%, and Chow to 24%, with 5% either undecided or casting their vote for another candidate.

If we remove the undecideds, we see that Chow may be the candidate who could benefit the most. Of the six points that become available, she would get three of them, boosting her to 25% support. Ford gets two of those points, and the last goes to minor candidates.

It will not transform the race, but it could give Chow a much-needed morale boost. If she does manage to pick up three of the available six points, the next poll will cast her as a candidate on the upswing. If Soknacki did not withdraw, there would have been the possibility that Chow would have dropped further, taking a lot of wind out of her campaign's sails. It gives her more time.

Perhaps Soknacki pulled out prematurely. Yes, he was still at just 6%. But his approval and recognition ratings jumped remarkably in this last poll. From an approval rating of 35% among the entire sample at the end of August, Soknacki jumped to 47%, with those not recognizing him falling to just 19%. That was the biggest move of any of the candidates.

Ford took the biggest hit, with his approval rating dropping five points to 34%. Tory's approval rating increased by three points to 63% among the entire sample (65% among those who recognize him) while Chow's was up two points to 49% (or 50% among those who recognize her).

Tory's approval rating is very high, and has been for some time. It puts him in a good position since he seems unlikely to leak support to other candidates. For the first time, this poll also put Tory ahead of Ford on the question of who could best handle the city's budget.

So Tory is the favourite as we enter this last stage of the campaign. Is it a slam dunk? Not at all. This municipal campaign is very long by Canadian standards. With almost seven weeks to go before the vote, a normal provincial or federal campaign would not have even started yet. That might lead us to believe that abrupt and significant change could still be in store. But longer campaigns mean opinions can solidify earlier. To win, Tory merely needs to avoid error. Ford likely cannot grow out of his base. That leaves Chow to make a move, and time is slowly running out.

35 comments:

  1. Sokancki ran a respectable campaign. I don't think his support would have increased to winnable levels if he stayed on, especially with an "Anyone but Ford" movement starting to form. It doesn't seem like he is running for council either, though I hope he returns to electoral politics in the future.

    It's interesting how the media had a field day with Ford's apparent surge, but it seems like his campaign is fizzling along with Chow's.

    There are some calls for Chow to drop out and endorse Tory, but that comes with a false notion that the remaining Chow supporters will vote Tory. Chow is down to her staunch social democrat base and that will likely stick with her till the end. There is a chance her support can increase a bit in the end if it seems Tory is a lock to win and Ford has no chance of winning.

    All Tory has to do now is to sustain this lead for another seven weeks. He was impressive in the last debate and if he holds up that energy, he will win.

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  2. Short of a video showing Tory smoking crack with Rob Ford, I don't see Chow having a chance. In fact, the video would probably enhance Tory's lead as some Ford voters might shift to Tory.

    There is a desire amongst a significant majority of Torontonians (not to mention humans everywhere) to coalesce around a credible ABRFNP! candidate. (ABRF Now Please!) Chow has never had the charisma to be that candidate, her platform is unclear, and her campaign is a lesson in how not to campaign. John Tory is the quintessence of avuncular... and that is key.

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    1. Lacking charisma? Sure. But unclear? Not if you've been paying attention or can access the internet. What her platform is, is unsexy. It seems you can't win a race without at least one incredibly ambitious (re: nigh-impossible) promise.

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  3. I'm bemused to see that people think of Tory as a safe place for their vote... More of the same is not a safe option.

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  4. Tory ain't a crack addict chimurenga !!

    Plus Anybody But Ford seems to work !!

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  5. Ahh the moronic mentality of AB(add group here).

    John Tory isn't much better then Ford and he's not going to do much differently. How quickly people seem to forget that Tory was the guy they didn't want as premier in Ontario.

    The problem with Anyone But is you really can get anyone... I worry for the future where people vote not out of facts but of out stupidity (we might already be there).

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    1. I would disagree. I would also argue that calling an "AB" movement stupid is stupid itself.

      Usually in an AB movement, you don't get just anyone. The opposition vote shifts to a candidate or party that is best seen to defeat the "worst" option. AB movements are crucial in our electoral system where there are no ranked ballots, proportional representation or run off elections.

      To say there is not much of a difference between Ford and Tory is a stretch. Tory is a right-leaning moderate, Ford is right-wing populist. Tory will support a fusion of LRT and Subway services, while Ford is still touting Subways and nothing else. Tory will bring various groups together, Ford burns bridges and is a bigot.

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    2. Oh we are already there: Tea Party, Wildrose, Trudeau...

      The masses prove everyday that they are incapable of governing themselves.

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    3. I keep hearing how unfit Trudeau is. I keep seeing the opposite. Where is the evidence that Trudeau is an intellectual lightweight? His masterful strategic moves that have moved him and his rump of a Liberal party into first place by a sizeable margin for 17 months running? His avoidance of the obvious pitfalls that previous leaders walked right into? His electoral record of winning a tough district when all sorts of others failed in supposedly easier ones? His obvious commitment to the job?

      I absolutely get why some people can't get past his hair, or desperately want him to have no credibility. What I don't get is why they keep convincing themselves of this when it runs 180° contrary to the facts.

      As for Chow's campaign, perhaps it is merely unsexy. But I don't see the effort or vision in it. And one cannot abandon electoral strategy and hope that people will "come to their senses". Particularly when 2 years of Ford's numbers refusing to drop suggest that would be anomalous.

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    4. Bob- because he has no substance or original progressive ideas. So far all I get from Liberals is that he is Trudeau's son, isn't Harper, and will legalize pot. That isn't a reason to vote for him.

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    5. I believe the Canadian electorate has always made the correct call in an election. Recently I felt the rejection of politicians such as Michael Ignatieff, George Smitherman, Danielle Smith and Tim Hudak demonstrate that.

      Sometimes the candidate would fail to meet the expectations of the electorate and would be turfed out in the subsequent election. It happened with Pauline Marois in Quebec and it would happen with Rob Ford in Toronto.

      I would argue that Trudeau is a shrewd politician. That is what is needed in a PM. The PM does not need to be an academic or an economist in order to govern. The PM would have his or her team of specialists and advisors that would help shape the policies in order to govern.

      I see Trudeau similar to Dalton McGuinty. McGuinty was the son of a politician. He was deemed as a lightweight that had no chance at becoming premier. McGuinty was accused by his opponents in the right and left as a politician without substance. But he knew how to play politics and as a result become one of the most successful premiers in the province's history. (The Liberals are still in power so they are doing something right).

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    6. Trudeau has not put forth a single policy except legalising marijuana. He has no ideas of note. While the last 17 months have had the Liberals riding high in the polls he has not managed to capture majority support among the populace. There was a time when such a polling record was considered a failure among Liberals, obviously Trudeau has been successful in lowering Liberal standards and expectations!

      What obvious commitment to jobs? He has no policy! He has lots of platitudes but no specifics. The Liberal website contains no specific much less a plan of action to increase employment.

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    7. Big Jay,

      Calling another comment "stupid" as a way to justify your comment is a very weak argument.

      AB movements don't have a very good track record in Canada ABB lead to Audrey McLaughlin becoming NDP leader, ABIggy/Rae lead to Stephane Dion and two disastrous elections for the Liberals. ABWildrose lead to Alison "Highflyer" Redford as premier of Alberta and finally the most famous AB winner of all Joe "Who?" Clark.

      The problem of course is that in voting against the perceived "worst option" not much scrutiny is paid to the credentials or qualifications of the successful AB winner. Often the winner is inappropriate or unqualified or of low calibre. It really is an abrogation of the franchise. Why bother voting at all if your support is half-hearted or insincere?

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    8. Jay what I am seeing is a very cleverly run campaign by the Liberals/Trudeau. Don't give the Tories anything to attack and they attack stuff that's irrelevant. Save your ammo until an election really is near !!

      The CPC adherents hate it but outside of the marijuana thing have NOTHING to attack and it's driving them nuts !!

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    9. Except the nothing that make Liberals and Trudeau appear unprepared. I think there an inherent risk to this "strategy" since, inevitably Trudeau will have to say something. An off-the-cuff remark may be come a far greater gaff than a well prepared unpopular policy.

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  6. How much of the Soknacki vote is likely to go to Chow now that he has dropped out?

    And of course Chow shouldn't drop out. Tory didn't drop out while Chow was ahead, so why should she do so just because he's ahead this month?

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  7. I wonder how Ford's tumor will affect his chances.

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  8. If Ford is sensible (?) he will drop out as his health is far more important to him than the mayoralty !! Plus his brother can step in and retain the "Ford nation" nonsense vote !!

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    1. The deadline to drop out is Friday at 2pm.

      It will be interesting to see what happens if Rob Ford drops out. Doug running last minute would be in bad taste, especially if his brother is seriously ill. On the other hand, there should be a candidate on the ballot that represents the Ford ideology.

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    2. And the biopsy results won't be available till next week. IMO Ford has no option but to drop out !!!

      Suppose he carries on and the results show cancer ?? Then where is he ??

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    3. Peter, He wouldn't be missing any more time from work than he already has habitually...

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    4. Probably true but now that he has dropped out of the race maybe we can get some sanity ??

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  9. It Ford drops out because of his health, voters may have to look at platforms, rather than simply coalescing around the one “most likely to defeat Ford”. I like Chow’s chances then.

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  10. I don't think Ford dropping out would benefit Chow greatly. Maybe some populists would shift to Chow.

    Enough Torontonians believe that Tory would offer stability after four years of turbulence. Tory has been campaigning as a moderate and does not look like he is alienating moderate progressives. I can't these voters shift to Chow this late in the campaign.

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    1. Chow's campaign is essentially dead. Perhaps she could win a Chow v. Ford match-up but, her chances of winning this 3 way race are pretty slim.

      If Ford left the race Tory would benefit, I can't see any Ford supporters moving over to Chow. At this point Tory doesn't need "progressives" he's captured the middle class and they will determine the outcome of the election.

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    2. The "middle class" does consist of "progressives" too. They handed Miller his victory in 2003 and 2006.

      I don't think John Tory wants to alienate progressive voters either. He is being supported by both small and big L Liberals. He is polling well in downtown Toronto too. A broad coalition would give him a good consensus to get him agenda through council.

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    3. I didn't write Tory "wants to "alienate" I wrote he doesn't "need progressives". The middle class does contain progressive but, I believe far more moderates and conservatives. Sure Miller won with the help of "progressives" but, he also had the support of the middle class of all stripes and that was key to his victory.

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  11. Ford has dropped out - just came out as breaking news a short while ago.

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  12. Just wanted to say kudos on being mentioned in the Economist Eric!

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    1. Thanks! A nerdy dream come true.

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  13. maybe now everyone can concentrate on issues for the remainder of this campaign... i.e. the things that might actually distinguish Tory and Chow...

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  14. also, this nearly year-long (very American style) election is absurd

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    1. Agreed, the campaign is far too long. Set election dates only help those parties or candidates with deep pockets since, longer campaigns cost more money.

      I think Chow is done. Her campaign has not resonated with people and her lack of charisma is her Achilles' heel. People don't view her in a leadership role. That is not to say people don't want her on council just that most Torontonians don't want her to lead council.

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  15. So who gets to be the new leader in Newfoundland-Labrador. Odd there hasn't been any polling on this ??

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  16. Sundays Globe And Mail

    "A poll Friday of 1,228 people by Forum Research for the Toronto Star had Mr. Tory at 41 per cent, Mr. Ford at 34 per cent and Ms. Chow at 19 per cent. A poll the same day of 1,054 people by Mainstreet Technologies put Mr. Tory at 45 per cent, Ms. Chow at 27 per cent and Mr. Ford at 16 per cent. The latter poll also had Rob Ford on track to win his old council seat easily, with a 30-point gap over the nearest challenger.

    Both polls were conducted by interactive voice response and at least part of each was done around the time Mr. Ford made an emotional speech to launch his campaign. Each had a margin of error of around 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20."

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