Tory 35%, Ford 27%, Chow 25%. Those are the topline numbers in the latest Forum poll for Toronto. Since July 21st, Tory has surged ahead 7%, Chow has sank by 4%, and Ford has somehow retained the exact same level of support.
Since the last time I wrote about Toronto, when the three main candidates were statistically tied, several notable events occurred, all of which should have affected Ford’s standing.
There was Ford Fest, with a record 15,000 people coming out for free food, and to celebrate Fordness as a metaphysical concept. There was also an altercation with the people who literally came out, where Ford supporters did battle with LGBT protesters.
As well, Bill Blair didn’t have his contract renewed, likely proving that Ford can destroy those who get in his way.
Finally, there were debates where Chow looked weak and inept, Tory seemed arrogant, and Ford was Rob, the guy looking out for the people.
All of these suggest that Ford’s numbers should begin moving, with either people re-aligning with his brand, or swearing him off for good. One might assume that Tory and Chow should decline slightly given Ford Fest. This was not the case.
Instead, today’s poll showed Tory well in front, pulling up by seven percent, Chow cratering to sub-Ford levels of support, and Ford remaining in exactly the same place.
The ready explanation is that the anti-Ford coalition has decided to coalesce behind Tory instead of Chow, but we see that Stintz and Soknacki have also lost ground, likely for the same reason. More importantly from this poll, we’ve learned that Ford can give free food to 15,000 people, and his polling won’t budge. They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but in this case there apparently is. Ford has reached his absolute ceiling, and unless one of the lesser candidates makes up enough ground to steal votes from Tory and Chow, it’s unlikely that Ford will win. 21% say they will vote for Ford no matter what, but 37% say they will vote for whoever can defeat Rob Ford.
Just think, Olivia Chow is actually polling lower than Rob Ford. Why is she no longer the standard bearer of the anti-Ford vote? Looking at the vote breakdown may help.
Women want Tory over Chow by a 15 point margin, with 38% of women supporting Tory, and only 23% supporting Chow (you’ll need to download the full poll to see the cross-tabs). Tory’s also beating her by 25% among those making under $20,000/year, and tied for the $20,000-$40,000 folk, suggesting that Chow has lost much of her core base to Tory, and that Tory has somehow evaded comparisons to Scrooge McDuck. Anyone who supports Ford will likely never vote for Chow, and by targeting him instead of Tory, all Chow did was make herself seem aggressive, instead of above the pettiness of the fray.
The race still has around 80 days and 40 debates to go, so we’re by no means approaching the end. But if Tory can prove himself to be the anti-Ford, it may just be a matter of time until Tory wins.