Say what you want about the accuracy of political opinion polls – one thing they can do very well is illustrate trends.
Indeed, the latest poll on the Toronto mayoral election points to several trends emerging: It suggests that John Tory is gaining in popularity, that Olivia Chow is losing supporters and that Rob Ford is still in the mix.
The Forum poll, released on Friday, has Tory with 35 per cent support, Mayor Rob Ford with 27 per cent support and Olivia Chow with just 25 per cent. The lesser-known candidates, David Soknacki and Karen Stintz, are pegged at 5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.
“It is clear that, while Rob Ford’s vote has remained stable, Chow’s has drifted markedly to Tory,” notes the survey report.
“In a hypothetical three way match-up between just the [top three] leaders, Tory improves to almost 4-in-10 votes (38%) to 3-in-10 for Rob Ford (30%) and just less than this for Chow (28%). In other words, Chow has all the support now she will get, whereas John Tory stands to benefit if other candidates drop out.”
The reasons for Chow’s dive in the opinion polls are tough to pin down.
But, as the leading ‘progressive’ candidate in the race, her policies have faced a lot more scrutiny and criticism in recent weeks. The narrative coming from those who don’t support the widow of Jack Layton is that she lacks substance.
Not surprisingly, the right-leaning Toronto Sun is leading the way on that charge.
“Trying to pin down mayoral candidate Olivia Chow as to where she stands on key issues is kind of like fighting to catch an errant hot-air balloon that, repeatedly propelled by sudden wind gusts, keeps floating off to a higher altitude,” the Sun’s Sue-Ann Levy wrote in a column published last weekend.
“After trying to prod her for answers, it became clear to me that much of her platform is being delivered from 30,000 feet and that her grasp of detail on current city issues is considerably lacking.”
The other issue that might have hurt Chow is her policies with regard to traffic congestion.
According to the survey, “more than half say they will vote for the candidate with the best transit plan.”
While Tory has come out big with a plan to build a 53-kilometre, 22-station surface level rail project without any property tax increases, Chow has made some more muted promises.
Matthew McGuire of the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition says that for travel-weary Toronto commuters, Chow’s plan may not be enough.
“Voters are looking at Chow’s transit policies such as scrapping the Scarborough subway extension and her focus on buses, and realizing this is not the best use of taxpayers’ dollars,” he told Yahoo Canada News.
The good news for Chow is that she still has a lot of time to stop the bleeding.
Voters go to the polls on October 27.