Municipal election update out of Toronto. A new poll came out overnight from Forum Research on the state of the race. The poll, published in the Toronto Star, has John Tory leading with 34 percent but Mayor Rob Ford has gained ground to 31 percent.
That poll has everyone in the other campaigns all freaked out over the prospect of Ford winning the election and plunging the city into four more years of chaos. The other reason everyone was freaked was because a big column ran in the Star by somebody predicting Ford will win.
Actually, the poll is not as rosy for Ford as it appears. Ford still has very little growth potential. His negatives are still through the roof, and approximately 61 percent of people still have an unfavourable view of him. Also, news stories like the one circulating today about his football coaching activities continue to be of no help. As long as the “circus” continues around Ford, I think he will continue to have trouble.
The real story of the poll, though, is not Ford’s numbers but those of Olivia Chow.
She is now down to 23 percent, says Forum, and has been consistently dropping in the polls now for weeks. It doesn’t surprise me — her campaign has struck me as negative from the start. Plus, Warren Kinsella said a few things about Tory’s transit plan that embarrassed the campaign, and now Kinsella has left the campaign entirely.
I think the pressure is really going to be on. The problem is that I think the number of people supporting Chow on her own merits is vastly outnumbered by the people who all-out hate Rob Ford and want him out as mayor under any circumstances. The Ford haters are bound to reassess their support of Chow given that her campaign increasingly is looking like a sinking ship. It would not surprise me to see people defect to Tory to stop Ford from winning, simply out of fear.
As for David Soknacki it’s pretty obvious from the numbers that pretty much all his supporters hate Ford, too. The Tory and Chow camps will want Soknacki to throw in the towel soon, too, just like Karen Stintz. Without Soknacki in the race, Tory would rise to 36 percent and Chow to 26.
I think what you’ll see happen in the next few weeks is that the Tory campaign will be stepping up efforts to bleed the anti-Ford vote away from Chow and Soknacki and try and consolidate them in their own camp. I also fully expect the Chow campaign to become more and more desperate in the days ahead.
I think it’s likely in the upcoming debates they will channel their immediate energies at Ford, just so they can try and get back into second place again and be seen as the alternative to Tory. But I’m not so sure anything Chow tries will work anymore. Anyhow, that is how I see the state of the race at the moment.