Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Casting call for a stop Ford movement: which also-ran sucks slightly less?

The latest Nanos poll of the Toronto Mayoral race showing a 24-point lead for right-wing candidate Rob Ford has certainly made waves far outside of the elite centre of the universe.

Rob Ford: 34.4 per cent
George Smitherman: 16.0 per cent
Joe Pantalone 12.6 per cent
Rocco Rossi: 7.2 per cent
Sarah Thomson: 4.6 per cent
Undecided: 25.0 per cent
(Phone survey of 1,021 likely voters Sept. 14-16. MOE +/- 3.1 per cent)

The break-out PDF from Nanos is very interesting reading. While Ford has an impressive 50 per cent of the vote in his homebase of Etobicoke, he's no suburban phenomenon. In fact, he leads the field in every region in the city, including a five-point lead on Smitherman in the Toronto core. He leads with both men and women. In every age category. With home owners and renters. It's an impressive and very through domination by Ford.

Rob Silver has a column that offers some very credible explanations for the Ford phenomenon, which I largely agree with. I'd add to the list Miller-backlash, and one more: the utter failure of George Smitherman, Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi and Sarah Thomson to wage professional, credible, organized campaigns that speak to the concerns and needs of the electorate.

This is backed-up by what, for me, was the most interesting part of the Nanos poll: the break-down by party support.

Ford has 52.2 per cent of Conservative voters, that's not surprising. Interestingly, despite Rossi and Smitherman's awkward lurches to the right, Joe Pantalone (the Jack Layton-endorsed Miller deputy) is second in Conservative support at 12.5 per cent, followed by Smitherman at 7.1 and Rossi at 6.7 per cent. So yeah, that tactic paid-off well. NDP voters are split between Ford and Pantalone (but this sample is very small).

The Liberal supporter numbers are interesting. Smitherman has a bare lead over Ford amongst Liberal supporters, 27.6 per cent to 26.2 per cent. That's embarrassing for a high-profile former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister. Also embarrassing is Rossi, briefly federal Liberal executive director, at just 7.3 per cent. And a whopping 24.3 per cent of Liberals are still undecided.

That undecided tally mirrors the over undecided total of 25.0 per cent. With a 24 point lead, this is Ford's election to lose. For him to not be elected mayor would require a campaign implosion, and probably a shrinking of the field. And most of those undecideds would have to break one-way, coalescing behind a stop-Ford movement that shows no signs of forming. One has to ask which of the similarly unimpressive candidates it could form behind? How could one candidate credibly say to another "you should drop out because I suck slightly less than you?"

I think many of those undecideds are like me: certainly not going to vote for Ford, but disappointed by all of the other candidates and still hoping, increasingly in vain, that one of the other candidates will do something to impress me. And no, tunnels, money-back guarantees and boccie-balls aren't going to do it.

In the end, barring a game-changer, people like me will either stay home on election day, or hold our noses and vote for the marginally less incompetent alternative. And that's how a guy who drove while intoxicated, lied about a drunken fight at a Leafs game, and has made off-colour remarks about Asians, homosexuals and city cyclists becomes Mayor of Toronto.

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kirbycairo said...

It is much like the tea-party phenomenon. But watch for a backlash against such blatant ignorance, sexism an racism.

CanadianSense said...

The fake lurch to the right by the others won't work.

The media and candidates spent all their time telling voters why Ford was wrong ignoring the Etobicoke voters wisdom?

Perhaps the wisdom in Etobicoke is spreading into other parts of Toronto?
Crying Wolf Scary Conservative?
Voters have begun to tune out the biased coverage, analysis from the Toronto media and CBC.

Making Miller the scapegoat?

Dan F said...

I realize that the choices are less than impressive, but please don't stay home. There are over 20 candidates for Mayor, surely one of them has something positive to vote for. Even if not, I don't see anything wrong with voting for the highest ranked non-Ford candidate in the last poll before e-Day, just to stop Ford. Sometimes we get to vote for the best candidate, and sometimes we can only vote for the least-bad. I have to take some responsibility for the lack of options, since I didn't run, but if we only show up when there is a perfect candidate for us, we will be doomed to suffer the "leadership" of the likes of George W Bush, Rob Ford, Sarah Palin, etc, etc...