Poll: NDP’s Olivia Chow only serious by-election threat to Rob Ford
Published on Tuesday December 18, 2012
RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR
NDP Transportation critic Olivia Chow holds a press conference near the Gardiner Expressway on Tuesday to speak about infrastructure spending.
Urban Affairs Bureau Chief
Mayor Rob Ford’s public support is steady at 42 per cent, making only NDP MP Olivia Chow a serious threat if a mayoral by-election was held now, a new poll suggests.
Last Friday’s Forum Research survey of 897 Torontonians includes, however, a couple of red flags for Toronto’s embattled mayor. A growing number say Ford brought his troubles on himself, while one-third of his supporters would be OK with council appointing Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday to serve out a turfed Ford’s term.
The poll, with a margin of error of 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20, asked people to choose from slates of potential candidates. Among them, only Ford has said he would run if his appeal of a conflict of interest ruling fails and he is forced out of office — and council opts for a by-election rather than appointing a caretaker mayor.
Ford came out tops in a variety of three-way and four-way combinations that did not include Chow (Trinity-Spadina). When her name was added, she mopped the floor with all rivals, including Ford.
If Ford were facing popular Newstalk 1010 host John Tory and councillors Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll, the mayor would be re-elected — albeit with only 31 per cent of the vote, the poll suggests.
Tory, a left-leaning conservative often touted as an electoral threat to Ford, tied with Vaughan at 23 per cent. Carroll, Mayor David Miller’s former budget chief, trailed at 13 per cent, up from 8 per cent in late November. Eleven per cent were undecided.
“Since Tory said he wouldn’t run in 2010 he has given no signs he’s thinking about it again, and I think people are now taking him at his word and his star is fading because of that,” said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum, which conducted the poll independently. “I was surprised at how low his numbers were.”
In a council-only three-way, Ford’s 37 per cent would beat staunch Ford critic Vaughan (30 per cent), and Carroll (16 per cent), the poll says. Ford still won when TTC Chair Karen Stintz was added to the slate.
Adding Chow to get hypothetical three-way, four-way and five-way races saw her triumph in all cases, with support ranging from 37 to 42 per cent.
“Ford Nation seems to be hanging in there with the mayor,” Bozinoff said. “He has the leadership advantage in that he has said he will run; he’s the one they have to beat.
“The others have roughly 60 per cent of support left to fight over, and they’re having trouble actioning that — except for Olivia Chow. In any of the matchups, she does really well.”
Most respondents thought Ford would lose his appeal, to be heard Jan. 7.
Some 42 per cent would prefer a by-election, compared with 28 per cent for Holyday being appointed caretaker mayor or 20 per cent for someone else.
Support for a by-election is highest (50 per cent) among Ford supporters, who are also warmer than average (34 per cent) to the Holyday option. Only 4 per cent of them favour council naming somebody else mayor.
Two-thirds of respondents said the gaffe-prone Ford, not the media, is to blame for his troubles, compared with 61 per cent in late November and 56 per cent in mid-November.
“It’s going to take more than a straw to break this camel’s back,” Bozinoff said of Ford’s hardcore support. “But I think it’s possible he could be pushing the envelope too much at some point and people (will) say: ‘Enough is enough, it’s just gone on too long.’”
Separate questions revealed that Torontonians are fairly satisfied with the TTC. Subways got the highest approval, with 72 per cent somewhat or very satisfied, compared with 65 per cent for buses and 62 per cent for streetcars.
Younger respondents, however, were markedly less satisfied with the TTC.
Here’s how the poll found potential candidates might fare in a mayoral by-election, in various combinations, if voters went to the polls right now.
• Chow (42); Ford (33); Vaughan (12); Carroll (6); Don’t know (8)
• Chow (38); Ford (32); Vaughan (11); Stintz (9); Carroll (4); Don’t know (6)
• Chow (37); Ford (28); Tory (17); Vaughan (10); Carroll (3); Don’t know (6)
• Ford (32); Tory (27); Carroll (20); Don’t know (20)
• Ford (37); Vaughan (30); Carroll (16); Don’t know (17)
• Ford (31); Vaughan (23); Tory (23); Carroll (13), Don’t know (11)
• Ford (35); Vaughan (25); Stintz (16); Carroll (10); Don’t know (14)
Forum Research poll of 897 Toronto residents done Dec. 14. Margin of error: 3 per cent 19 times out of 20