Whether you're celebrating or despairing at Coun. Rob Ford's huge lead in the latest opinion poll, keep in mind it's a long time until voting day on Oct. 25.

"It's still a race. There's an entire federal election campaign period still to go between now and election day," Robert Silver, a political Liberal who blogs on politics for The Globe and Mail, told CTV News on Tuesday.

"The notion that (former Liberal cabinet minister) George Smitherman can't come from behind is ludicrous. Campaigns matter."

But Silver said two things have to happen for someone to overtake Ford -- who had 45.6 per cent support among decided voters in the recent Nanos Research poll for CTV, CP24 and The Globe and Mail -- compared to 21.3 per cent for second-place Smitherman.

"They need to crystallize -- in very clear, very specific language -- on what would be so bad about four years of a Rob Ford Toronto."

To date, none of the leading candidates -- Smitherman, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, former executive Rocco Rossi and publisher Sarah Thomson -- have done so, he said.

Silver said the second thing candidates need to do is present a “clear, concise alternative” of why four years under their helm would be good for the city.

They need to tell voters this, he said: "'Why I will make your Toronto a better place to work, a better place to live, a better place to get around.'"

Silver said he thinks chunks of Ford's support can be broken off by a good campaign and allow someone else to win, noting much of Ford's support has come in the past six to eight weeks.

"But it's not just going to come because people are going to get freaked out about Rob," he said. "I don't think there's any one thing that Rob can do in terms of a mistake that's going to lose the election."

The best template for what can happen is the 2003 Toronto municipal election. At this point, in the election, neither John Tory nor eventual winner David Miller were the leading candidate, he said.

Former mayor Barbara Hall had been the frontrunner. She ultimately finished third, with support really shifting towards the end.

While Miller and Ford are ideological opposites, Silver said Miller also rode a wave of populist frustration into City Hall back in 2003, wielding a broom as a symbol of his determination to clean up the place.

"That's a populist message," he said.

In this election, people are also angry at City Hall.

Neil Thomlinson, chair of Ryerson University's politics and public administration department, described it as "inchoate" or unfocused rage amongst the electorate. They see Ford as being as angry as they are, he said.

Thomlinson also said the other candidates didn't take Ford very seriously and expected him to self-destruct. That hasn't happened to this point.

"One of the things I've been depressed to observe is their strategy has been to attack (Ford)," Thomlinson said. "I'm not sure people are listening to that."

The other candidates need to steal the agenda on substantive issues, he said.

"If the Toronto public refuses to engage, then they'll get what they deserve."

Silver said Ford has been running a very skilled, disciplined campaign with a very consistent, clear, simple message about stopping the gravy train at City Hall.

"He has used both traditional tactics and sophisticated new ones to reach his target voters," he said, giving telephone town halls as one example.

For those who think Toronto -- which has been dominated by the centre-left at all three levels of government in recent elections -- won't elect a conservative, Silver reminded people that Premier Mike Harris had success in the 416 area code in the 1995 and 1999 provincial elections under his Progressive Conservative "Common Sense Revolution" banner.

But again, he sees Ford as being more populist than purely conservative.

In the meantime, lawn signs don't go up until Oct. 4, and the paid advertising barrages have yet to begin in earnest.

For Thomlinson, the big question will be are people merely expressing their anger by supporting Ford in a poll, or will they actually vote for him when they are in the booth on Oct. 25?

As Yogi Berra once said, it ain't over until it's over. Ask Barbara Hall.