Mayor Rob Ford has pulled ahead of John Tory but still lags behind Olivia Chow, in a new public opinion poll by Forum Research, taken a week before Ford is scheduled to return from rehab for problems with alcohol.
But if Ford were out of the mayoral race entirely, the poll indicates that Chow and Tory would be statistically tied for voter support.
Forum Research President Lorne Bozinoff said for all that, it is too soon to tell whether Ford’s surge has more to do with his imminent return than a permanent shift in voter intentions.
“With his return now imminent, interest in the mayor is beginning to grow, and with it, as usually happens, his approval,” said Bozinoff. “We’ll see if this is a temporary phenomenon, or a sustained surge which will carry him back into the campaign he left so abruptly.”
The telephone poll contacted 890 Toronto residents Monday, June 23. It found in the current race, Olivia Chow led the race with 34 per cent, Rob Ford had 27 per cent, John Tory had 24 per cent support, David Soknacki had six per cent and Karen Stintz trailed with three per cent. Six per cent described themselves as undecided.
The poll marks a slight rebound for Mayor Rob Ford, who two weeks ago faced his lowest polling numbers since he was elected mayor, trailing both Chow and Tory.
The poll also measured personal approval rating among the candidates. By that measure, John Tory led the pack, with 61 per cent among those voters who were aware of him. Chow followed close behind him, with 57 per cent with those who knew of her.
Both of those candidates had high voter awareness, with 92 per cent and 96 per cent recognizing them respectively.
Stintz had high voter awareness too, at 80 per cent, but her approval rating was only 41 per cent. Soknacki, with 63 per cent voter awareness had an approval rating of 47 per cent.
All of the candidates but Ford have dropped in approval ratings since the last poll. Ford’s approval rating raised slightly, to 32 per cent, from 28 per cent two weeks ago.
The poll also attempts to chart the size of “Ford Nation,” the base of voters that will vote for Rob Ford exclusively—by asking “Will you vote for Rob Ford in the municipal election in October or not,” without naming other candidates.
That number has risen since two weeks prior, to 29 per cent from 22 per cent.
The Forum poll indicated that those supporters tend to be younger, less wealthy, the least educated and predominantly in Scarborough. About half were provincial Progressive Conservative voters, and Ford Nation voters were largely absent from the downtown.
Calls for Ford’s resignation are also down from two weeks ago. Now 58 per cent say the mayor should quit as a result of the numerous scandals of the past year and his very public indulgence in drugs and alcohol. Two weeks ago, 63 per cent said he should quit.
The poll also looks at issues that have arisen in the campaign.
Respondents to the poll said that building transit is the top issue in the election (31 per cent), with keeping taxes low (20 per cent) and protecting city services (10 per cent) following.
Chow and Ford were tied for the best transit plan (27 per cent and 26 per cent respectively) with Tory at 23 per cent, Stintz at seven per cent and Soknacki at five per cent.
Soknacki’s proposal to ban on-street parking on downtown arterial roads got a significant thumbs-down from respondents, with 58 per cent disapproving of the idea. Only 31 per cent approve of the plan, and 11 per cent had no opinion.