Today in the politics-we-just-don’t-get-you-sometimes department, we have the latest polling from the Toronto mayoral race, which will take place in October. Mayor Rob Ford, who has faced calls for resignation and low approval ratings after admitting to an alcohol problem and cocaine use, is in second place. The candidate who was in the lead, Olivia Chow, has dropped to third place in the latest Forum Research poll, released Thursday. Ford’s other opponent, John Tory, has 34 percent of the vote, and Rob Ford is only three (3!) percentage points behind him — the highest support he’s registered this year. In the last poll, from late July, all three leading candidates were in a dead heat.
One big thing that’s happened since July? One of the candidates, Karen Stintz, dropped out. Forum Research says that 30 percent of her supporters drifted to Ford, and 27 percent went to Tory.
Toronto residents are also warming up to Ford again — or are at least forgetting his antics (although the same hasn’t happened in city government). In June, 63 percent of residents wanted him to resign. Now just half of the city’s population does (only!). Having half of your constituents want you to leave office before they even have a chance to vote for you seems ominous, but for Ford, that is a major improvement. After all, you don’t need a majority to win, and his opponents are splitting the “not Ford” vote quite nicely, improving his chances of keeping his job from impossible to improbable.
The campaign itself has been as entertaining as you’d expect it to be. Ford’s brother and campaign manager, Doug, who is on the Toronto Council, said in early August, “People will come on side, you just watch. Rob Ford has momentum.”
Chow’s spokesperson responded at the time: “Whatever colour the sky is on Doug’s planet, no doubt you can build subways for free and Rob’s been the best mayor ever. He is even now contradicting his own campaign spokesman, who on Friday, said the Fords read nothing into polls.”
When Ford was asked about taking a drug test before the election, he said OK — but only if all the other candidates did too. Tory and Chow said they would, but David Soknacki — who only gets 4 percent of the vote in the latest poll, would rather not. “He feels that urinating into a cup for a media hit would be yet another distraction,” his campaign manager told the National Post, “depriving the good people of this city of the adult conversation they deserve regarding Toronto’s future.”
And you thought politics in this country were getting dumber.
Ford’s problems haven’t been limited to the election, either. As he told reporters last week, “I’ve had some stand-offs with some raccoons.”
Yes, apparently Toronto is being overrun by raccoons, and city politicians aren’t quite sure what to do yet. Ford discussed the topic at length at City Hall. “Seriously, they just look at you, and they’re not scared anymore. It used to be you could yell or scream at them, [now] they just look at you.”
On Wednesday, a reporter asked Rob Ford how exactly he planned to win the race. He responded, “Don’t worry about that.” Whatever he’s doing, it seems to be doing some good.