Mayor Ford's approval takes a hit

| Filed under: Toronto

Tory advances on Chow in mayoral race

TORONTO MAY 2nd, 2014 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 888 Toronto voters the day Mayor Rob Ford announced he is taking a leave of absence to deal with his substance abuse problem, fewer than 4-in-10 approve of the job he is doing as mayor (38%), and this is down sharply from two weeks ago (46%). In the meantime, approval ratings for John Tory have increased (from 65% to 69%), while those for Olivia Chow are stable (60% to 58%). David Soknacki has the approval of more than half (56%), while Karen Stintz posts a score just under half (47%). Awareness of all candidates is at 8-in-10 or more, except for David Soknacki (57% aware).

Tory closing gap with Chow

In a five way race (including Rob Ford, assuming he returns), Olivia Chow would win with one third of the vote (33%), closely followed by John Tory with more than a quarter (27%). Rob Ford would take just more than a fifth (22%), while Stintz (6%) and Soknacki (5%) trail. These results represent an increase for John Tory (from 24%) and a corresponding decrease for Rob Ford (from 27%). Few have no opinion (7%).

In a four way race in which Rob Ford does not contend, Tory (32%) and Chow (34%) are essentially tied, while Soknacki and Stintz are as well (at 6% each). In this race, without Ford, close to one quarter would not have an opinion (22%).

In a three way race in which only the top candidates (including Rob Ford, should he return) contend, Chow wins with 4-in-10 votes (40%) to 3-in-10 for Tory (29%) and one quarter for the mayor (25%). Once again, few are undecided when Ford is included (7%).

Tory, Stintz only second choice candidates

In a highly polarized field, only John Tory (15%) and Karen Stintz (14%) are seen as acceptable second choice candidates. Among Rob Ford voters, very few have a second choice, and most say they don't know (86%). Stintz voters are most likely to vote John Tory second (14%), while Tory voters are most likely to also vote Chow (25%), followed by Stintz (18%) and Ford (13%). Karen Stintz (27%) and John Tory (33%) are the second choice of Chow voters, while Soknacki's supporters are especially unlikely to support any other contender (90% don't know - caution, small base size).

Ford with highest negatives, Chow too; Soknacki lowest

Rob Ford has the highest negative score (52% would never vote for him), followed by Olivia Chow (22%). Ford voters are least likely to vote for Chow (51%), followed by Stintz (16%) and Tory (12%). Stintz voters are most likely to say they will never vote for Ford (50%). Tory voters will never vote for Ford (54%) or Chow (30%), which places them in the centre of the ideological spectrum. Most Chow voters will never vote Ford (87%), while Soknacki voters also shun Ford (64% - caution, small base size), followed by Tory and Chow (13% each).

Ford Nation shrinks

One quarter of voters say they will vote Rob Ford in the municipal election (with no other contenders mentioned - 25%), and this is down from 3-in-10 two weeks ago (April 15 - 29%) and from close to 4-in10 in previous months.

Strong approval for Mayor's leave decision

Approval of Mayor Ford's decision to seek help in rehab is almost unanimous (87%) and doesn't meet the approval of just 1-in-20 (6%). Approval is highest among the Mayor's supporters (93%) and those who will vote for him (92%).

Two thirds think Mayor should resign

Close to two thirds of Toronto voters think the Mayor should resign (63%), and this is similar to levels noted last year (December, 2013 - 60%) and previously. Of note, 1-in-7 Ford supporters think he should resign (15%).

One third will vote Ford if he's clean and sober

One third of Toronto voters will vote for Rob Ford in the next municipal election if he goes to rehab and gets clean (no other contenders - 32%). This includes one quarter of Stintz supporters (27%), one eighth of Tory supporters (16%) and as many as one third of Soknacki voters (33%- caution, small base). This proportion hasn't changed overall since last year (Nov. 2013 - 34% will vote if attends rehab).

It appears there is finally a limit to what Ford Nation will stand for, and the mayor may have passed it. If he doesn't rejoin the race, John Tory is the beneficiary, as Ford voters will not vote Chow. Her support is focused at the left hand end of the political spectrum, whereas Tory appeals across the middle. Nonetheless, the mayor's decision to seek help has touched a strong sympathetic nerve, especially among his supporters," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.