WATCH ABOVE: Toronto mayoral candidates react to polls showing Tory in commanding lead.
TORONTO – I’ve got to tell you, this year’s race for the mayor’s chair isn’t simply historic – it’s downright strange.
I’ve been covering city politics in Toronto since the 416 area code covered one city, four boroughs, and a regional municipality.
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There have been a handful of elections where the mayoralty was hotly contested – June Rowlands versus Jack Layton, Mel Lastman versus Barbara Hall, David Miller versus John Tory, and Rob Ford versus George Smitherman top my list.
But none of those races included an incumbent.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen serious, well-funded, high profile candidates with sophisticated campaign machines turn their guns on a sitting mayor. That, in and of itself, should have been enough to make this race interesting.
READ MORE: John Tory leads in traditional Ford stronghold of Etobicoke
But you throw in the colourful history of Mayor Rob Ford and the unvarnished approach of his campaign manager (and brother), Doug and this was shaping up to be a battle royale that would rival a WWE event.
Of course no one anticipated that the mayor’s re-election effort would end with a cancer diagnosis – never mind that he’d withdraw and Doug would step into the fray.
It’s made for a wild time on the campaign trail for the candidates and the media.
But I’m beginning to think that most of you have simply gone about your business while all this drama has unfolded. With the exception of the social media trolls out there, you’ve wished Rob Ford a speedy recovery – then you turned your mind to the mayoralty race and have made up your minds.
The most recent Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Global News suggested John Tory has widened his lead over Doug Ford and Olivia Chow. He commands nearly half (48.1 per cent) of all voter support.
Chow and Ford each boast a 1 in 4 rating (26 per cent each). One in ten (12 per cent) of you still hasn’t committed or won’t bother telling the pollster who will get your vote on October 27.
Those are staggering numbers one month away from Election Day.
What’s most interesting, maybe even surprising, is that this poll suggests Tory leads among both men and women, across all income brackets, among singles and couples, and between those who are employed and unemployed. John Tory even has a 20 percentage point lead, (50.6 per cent to 31 per cent), over Doug Ford among voters in Etobicoke.
Yes. It’s only one poll.
Yes. It’s a snap shot of history. (1,252 people answered the survey between September 23-26.)
Yes. The poll could be wrong. (The margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20)
But, it’s worth noting that this trend is reflected in the other polling that has been published this month.
The Forum Research polls don’t show as wide a spread between Tory and Ford but his lead has been consistent since Doug jumped into the race.
The Nanos surveys in September are similarly consistent with Tory riding a 22 point cushion in the most recent poll.
Of course, we can’t compare Ipsos to Forum to Nanos because they all have different methodology. And I will readily admit I’m no number cruncher. But this is the first time in a long time that all the polls appear to be trending in the same direction.
Does it mean one of the most watch, highly anticipated, hotly contest mayoralty campaigns is going to end with a whimper?
Does it mean this final month will be a victory lap for Tory?
Could these polling results actually discourage voter turnout if most people assume this race is finished?
I’m telling you – this is a downright strange race.