Chow is still on top in mayoral sweeps

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Chow is still on top in mayoral sweeps

Tory, Ford fight it out for second place

TORONTO APRIL 15th, 2014 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 882 Toronto voters, one third would vote Olivia Chow for mayor if the municipal election were held today (34%), while a quarter or just more would vote either Rob Ford (27%) or John Tory (24%). Neither Karen Stintz (6%) nor David Soknacki (4%) are contenders. Very few have no opinion in the race (5%).

Chow is popular among the youngest (38%), the least wealthy (47%), downtown (48%), transit users (39%), the least educated (38%) and the most educated (40%) and among those who voted NDP in the last election (64%).

Rob Ford's support is strongest among boomers (55 to 64 - 33%), males (34%), the less wealthy ($20K to $40K - 43%) and the wealthier ($80K to $100K - 43%), in North York (38%), among drivers (35%), among those with some college (34%) and among provincial PC supporters (43%).

John Tory draws his support from the oldest (35%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 40%), downtown (27%), among drivers (32%), property owners (30%), among the most educated (degree - 28%, post-grad - 29%), mothers with children (28%), past PC voters (41%) as well as some Liberal voters (28%).

These results represent a slight increase for Tory since we last polled (March 27 - 21%), and a sharp decrease for Ford (from 32%). Chow's share has stayed stable (March 27 - 33%).

With Ford out, Chow prevails

In a match-up without Mayor Ford, Olivia Chow takes close to 4-in-10 votes (38%) to 3-in-10 for John Tory (31%). Once again Stintz and Soknacki don't compete (5% each), but fully one fifth can't make up their minds (21%). These are Ford partisans who don't have a second choice. This represents an increase for Chow on this measure (from 34%) and stability for Tory (March 27 - 31%).

Chow beats Ford, Tory head-on

In a race in which only the top three contenders compete, Olivia Chow would take more than a third of the vote (36%), while Tory (29%) and Ford (30%) would split the rest. Few would be undecided (5%).

Tory and Stintz are popular second choices

In total, voters are most likely to say either John Tory (15%) or Karen Stintz (10%) is their second choice. Very few Ford voters have a second choice, however (DK - 84%). Tory supporters are equally likely to say their second choice is Ford (21%), Chow (21%) or Stintz (18%). Chow's supporters are most likely to vote John Tory second (35%), followed by Stintz (12%). Among the two candidates whose supporters will count the most however, the story is not clear. Stintz supporters mostly say they don't have a second choice (76%) but those who do pick Rob Ford (12% - caution, small base size). The same applies to Soknacki, but his supporters are most likely to make John Tory their second choice (16% - caution, small base size).

Ford has highest negatives, Tory, Soknacki lowest

Fully one half of Toronto voters will never vote for Rob Ford (49%) and half this proportion will never vote for Olivia Chow (25%). Stintz is rejected by less than a tenth (7%) and John Tory and David Soknacki by fewer (3% each). Ford supporters will never vote Chow (54%), followed by Stintz (13%). Tory supporters reject both Ford (49%) and Chow (38%). Chow voters will not support Ford (86%). Stintz supporters will not vote for Ford (76% - caution, small base size), while Soknacki voters will not support either Ford or Stintz (37% and 40%, respectively - caution, small base size).

Tory has highest approval, Ford, Stintz, Soknacki lag

John Tory has the highest approvals among those aware of him (65% approve), followed by Olivia Chow (60% approve). These two leaders are followed by David Soknacki (47%) and Stintz and Ford (46% each). The demographics of approval mirror voting intention. David Soknacki scores high in approval among moms with kids (58%).

Sound management, jobs and low taxes are voter concerns

The leading concern for voters in the upcoming election is sound economic management (21%), followed very closely by promoting jobs and growth and relieving the tax burden on the middle class (18% each). These are followed in a second tier by caring for the most vulnerable (10%), ethics at city hall and elected officials' personal behaviour (8% each) and caring for the environment (6%). One tenth say some other issue is most important (11%). Ford voters cite relieving the tax burden first (33%) followed by jobs and sound management (24% each). Chow voters are equally (and not very) concerned with every item listed except sound economic management (7%) and caring for the environment (8%). Tory supporters are concerned for jobs and growth first (22%), followed by relieving the middle class tax burden (13%). Stintz voters care most about the most vulnerable (33%) and the middle class tax burden (23%), while Soknacki voters are all about sound economic management (52%) to the exclusion of other concerns. Use caution when analyzing data for Stintz and Soknaclki voters, due to small base sizes.

Most agree party politics don't belong at city hall

Two thirds of Toronto voters agree party politics have no place in city government (64%), and just fewer than one fifth think they do (17%). One fifth don't have an opinion (19%). John Tory's supporters are the most likely to espouse this belief (70%). Among those who would vote along party lines municipally, most would vote PC (37%) followed by a quarter who would vote Liberal (25%) or NDP (26%).

Ford Nation comprises 3-in-10 voters

Three-in-ten voters say they will vote for Rob Ford in the coming municipal election, with no other candidates named (29%). These may be considered the mayor's loyalist core, which makes up Ford Nation. These loyalists are middle aged (55-64 - 36%), male (35%), low income ($less than $20K - 48%), live in North York (38%), are among the least educated (secondary school or less - 37%, some college - 35%) and are past provincial PC voters (45%).

7-in-10 agree mayor has substance abuse problem

About 7-in-10 Toronto voters agree the mayor has a substance abuse problem (70%), the same proportion as said this the last time we asked (November 2013 - 69%), but well up from two weeks before that (54%). Among those who agree are 4-in10 of those who will vote for him (42%) and close to half of those who approve of the job he's doing as mayor (47%).


While Olivia Chow leads in voter preference, she also has high negatives, and is unlikely to be the fall-back choice of supporters of Karen Stintz or David Soknacki, in the event they drop out of the race. John Tory is the top second choice and has the lowest negatives, which makes him the ideal candidate to attract supporters of other candidates who elect not to, or are unable to run. Rob Ford's supporters support only Rob Ford, have no second choice and would probably stay home if their candidate didn't run.

A promise of sound fiscal management will speak to the broadest spectrum of voters, and is the only message Soknacki partisans care about. Relieving the tax burden plays well with Ford supporters, but is not top-of-mind among others. Stinz supporters can be wooed by promises of caring for the most vulnerable in society.

The majority agree party politics don't belong at city hall, and this position may be useful in countering Chow's candidacy, which is most vulnerable to this charge. Ford Nation has shrunk in size from more than a third of the electorate to less than 3-in-10 in the past few month, and while his approval is high relative to past levels, it is still the lowest of the five major candidates. In this situation Chow leads comfortably, Ford is vulnerable, and Tory has the potential to grow his share


The campaign has been running in earnest for a couple of weeks now, and things have settled into the rhythm they will probably maintain for the next month or so. Unless a major surprise occurs, or a leading candidate exits the race early, we're probably seeing the race as it will stay for a while; Chow leading, and Ford and Tory duking it out for second," 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.