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Photo courtesy Team Ford
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Photo by Cheol Joon Baek
"Mayor Robert Bruce Ford." Tough to say, tough to swallow, tough to believe.
It's also tough to argue with polling trends. Anti-bike, anti-immigrant, anti-homeless, and winning.
Well, for the moment.
The same Ipsos-Reid poll that put Ford at 32 per cent this week put non-candidate David Miller at 39 per cent. And to confuse the situation further, I'll tell you that someone let me dissect a secret 400-plus-page cross-tabulated monstrosity paid for by the folks tracking John Tory's support back in July, and guess what?
That poll concludes that a third of Ford supporters are comfortable with the Miller regime.
More of the good news later; now the bad. Some folks are furious and want to take it out on nearby targets.
"You have to remember, working-class people have been through a hell of a time in the last couple of years," says Marc Zwelling of Vector Research.
"One would hope they'd be angry at the right people, but it's easier to vote for Rob Ford than to take a picket sign and stand in front of a bank. Rob Ford is not a person, he's a petition."
He's also the only candidate from the burbs, points out U of T political scientist Nelson Wiseman. "That's a big factor.'' Folks in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, he says, have been watching their property taxes rise. Meanwhile, "the condo people come [to the core] knowing what their taxes are."
Boozin' and abusin' seem not to have fazed Ford's base. "Ironically," says Ryerson politics prof Myer Siemiatycki, "any of Ford's personal foibles and weaknesses can morph into evidence - to his supporters - for why he should be mayor: because he's reckless, fearless and knows no bounds."
But the man has major vulnerabilities. Back to the secret Tory poll. Tory, of course, shows up on top, particularly among the disenchanted. He was also the most likely to cut deeply into Ford's base, a base largely built on seniors.
According to that poll, men 55-plus are most impressed by Ford. Lowest in the impressed column? Women 18-34, and that was before Ford's past drunken indiscretions hit the press. Significantly, 55-plus women don't follow their male cohort into the Ford camp in the same numbers.
Meaning, if the right combo of voters can be enticed to the polls, Ford's toast.
"Governments that are hardline against social spending, education, and have a bullying orientation in terms of style have had far less support from women," says Siemiatycki.
Youth in general are least likely to vote for Ford, according to that extensive Tory poll, and Siemiatycki isn't surprised.
Then there's Ford's immigrant phobia. "I don't believe a city of 2.5 million, half of whom are foreign- born, is going to take kindly to blaming immigrants,'' says Siemiatycki, who figures people's attention to Ford's true beliefs will start hitting critical mass very soon.
But there's more: the Tory exploratory shows that a majority of people approve of Miller's performance as mayor, with 77 per cent saying City Hall is on the right track.
If Miller were to drop into the race, - well, you can see the scenario. In the Ipsos-Reid poll, 59 per cent of George Smitherman's, 81 per cent of Joe Pantalone's and 58 per cent of Sarah Thomson's supporters approved of Miller's time in office.
Maybe that's why there's talk of an exploratory poll being conducted by folks who would like to see Miller jump back in.
"It would certainly make a mess of things," acknowledges Zwelling, who says it's a long shot, but "stranger things have happened."